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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ninja Mom on the War Path.

A couple times now, EJ's school has done things that are really walking the line between separation of church and state. The first thing they did was on September 11 - the principal led the school in prayer. I learned of this when EJ came home that day, because she said it was "just like Pastor Dean does!" (Pastor Dean is the reverend of my mom's church, which the kids attend from time to time. Just because I have issues with religion doesn't mean I should pass those on to my kids, so when they want to go to church, I am more than happy to let let them.)
Anyway, that incident made me feel a little put off, but since The Babe was just a week old, I didn't do anything about it. I was too tired to fight the system.

What that incident did do, however, was put me on guard for other things that might happen. The next couple things were not as severe, in my mind, as praying in school. We'd get the school newsletters with blurbs about "God bless our homeless veterans" and stuff like that. Each week, the newsletter features several different Bible studies parents can attend, and the school has an active Bible Club. This is all fine, so long as it doesn't occur during school hours and my child isn't forced to attend - but the problem is, my hackles are all up from the September 11 incident, so on the inside, these little things are bugging the shit out of me.

So that brings me to the newest incident, which, in my mind, is a pretty huge deal.

I need to backtrack a second here. For the past month and a half, the newsletter has been loudly proclaiming what must be a very exciting event - a well-known motivational speaker is coming to EJ's school, and the parents can go see him the night before, sans kids, and the entire school will meet for an assembly with this speaker the next day.

It all sounds so good, doesn't it? I mean, what parent wouldn't want their child/ren to hear an uplifting motivational speaker?

ME. That's who. Because this particular motivational speaker has this to say on his website:

Mike attributes his strength and conditioning to two things: 1) His faith in the Lord and the
2) Powerbase equipment he invented in 2001.


Okay. But then the testimonials, from completely secular organizations, go on to say:

Mike did an excellent job as our speaker. He was funny, serious, wove his
Christian faith into the presentation, and just made you feel good.

Not enough for you? Here's another testimonial:

Mike then discovered who he really is as defined by His Creator God instead of his Dad.

Oh, it gets better.

Someone planted a seed that grew. I saw a man that was filled with the spirit of Christ.
He views this quest as a gift from God [...] This open exhibit of spiritual belief is a
testimony for all of us that God can make a change in our lives and make our dreams
come true.

So listen. It's not this motivational speaker I have a problem with. I bet he's a great guy, and he certainly does have an interesting story. However, I will not under any circumstances allow my child to be exposed, during hours that should be dedicated to education, to an hour of religious drivel that may or may not be in accordance with what our family believes.

Federal clearly states that this type of thing is illegal:

Teachers and administrators are prohibited from either encouraging or discouraging religious
activity and from participating in such activity with students.

In my mind, using taxpayer dollars to retain a Christian motivational speaker, and forcing children to attend an assembly with such a speaker, are clearly violations of this rule.

So what did Ninja Mom do? Ninja Mom called the school to see exactly what this speaker would be speaking about. After all, just because he talks about his religion at every other speaking engagement doesn't mean he'll do it in a public school. He's not an idiot. He knows the laws just as well as I do (and probably more so, since, after all, he is an educated person and I am just a mom.)

The school's response was priceless.

The administrator I spoke with said, and I am quoting directly, "Well, his talk will be about good moral values and why people should use his products."

NO. FUCKING. WAY. This has to be joke. So you're saying that even if he doesn't talk about religion, he's going to be promoting his weight-lifting machines and vitamin drinks? Seriously? To elementary school kids? This has GOT to be a joke.

I am awaiting a phone call from the principal, and trying to figure out what, if anything, I should do about this situation. A big part of me wants to raise a stink, make it understood that this kind of bullshit is absolutely not acceptable in public school. But I don't want anything to fall back on EJ, and who's to say they won't retaliate? They already hate her for her messy desk.

... the phone is ringing. This might be the school. I'll update later.

8 comments:

Lisa said...

Hmm, this is interesting. What do good moral values have to do with vitamins and working out? Let me know how this turns out. This would piss me off too, for what it's worth.

Jenni said...

Okay, so selling God or vitamin drinks are both entirely inappropriate for a school presentation. What is wrong with people? You read them the riot act Ninja. They deserve it.

Sara said...

yep, i'd be pissed too. this is one that i would make a stink about. it's just wrong.

iMommy said...

Wow, that's so odd. I mean, they are clearly in violation of federal law, whether or not anyone wants to see the guy speak. Not to mention, the topics? How is that appropriate?

Elizabeth Gallo said...

As a public school teacher, I am COMPLETELY shocked and offended by this school having this guest during instructional time. There are lots of motivational speakers available who will not preach their religion and/or sell their products to our young children. And seriously, you should contact the district and the state department of education to alert them. Raise a stink.

Momma Bear said...

how odd! it doesn't make any sense. moral values and weight lifting machines??? What the freak?

Thats stupid.It sounds like they're trying to waste the kids learning time by bringing some random dude in. Unless of course they get some sort of kick back from it...wouldn't that be interesting...

Manda said...

I am interested in learning what this man will be saying at your child's school. I mean I do find it strangely odd that he will be peddle pushing his products.... maybe that is for the parents portion the night before. Then I can understand the speaker being there for good morals. There is a way about that without crossing a line and pushing his religion.
Although, I also struggle with my faith... but I would not be offened. My children go to a preschool where they pray before the eat lunch everyday.
Keep us posted on what the principal has to say!

breedermama said...

I agree with you, 100% on this (as I have stated before) but I am the only one who thinks that this:
"Mike attributes his strength and conditioning to two things: 1) His faith in the Lord and the
2) Powerbase equipment he invented in 2001." is hilarious. It was Jesus and my totally rockin' home gym equipment that made me who I am today!

Seriously, I'm just waiting for Aston Kutcher to appear and tell you that you have been Punk'd because this is too ridiculous to be true.