Local Atheist Group Criticizes Northwest ISD Assembly

TROPHY CLUB (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s not the message, but the messenger, drawing criticism at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club.

More than 1,900 students sat in the gym Wednesday for a mandatory assembly addressing partying, peer pressure and abstinence.

A DJ kept the music going.  Video clips kept the message moving.  Young speakers jumped onto railings to deliver their quick takes on behavior that could bring teens down.

“Say no to that and think about what it really means to you, how it will affect you,” said sophomore Brandon Gandt.

The message though came under fire from Metroplex Atheists, who said the school district was endorsing a group that actually had a goal of religious evangelism.  “Its kinda like how they sell you time shares, they bring you in for one thing and then they try to sell you something else,” said Zachary Moore of the Metroplex Atheists. “So this group is coming and basically trying to sell these kids timeshares in heaven.”

The group, called the Seven Project,  is a ministry affiliated with the Assemblies of God church.  It came to the attention of the Metroplex Atheists when they said a school employee approached them with information on the assembly and concern about mixing church and state.

The school’s parent teacher association sponsored the group’s appearance at the school.  Northwest ISD though said the message delivered was completely secular.

The assembly CBS 11 observed didn’t include any religious message, and no flyers or printed materials were passed out to students.  “Those are completely separate,” said district spokesman Lesley Weaver. “What they do during the school day we definitely have control over. We make sure it’s a non religious message.”

Critics though pointed to online postings from the group laying out five-step plans for how to get their message into schools.   On Tuesday, 24 hours before the rally, the group posted a message on Twitter saying “at this time tomorrow, hundreds of students will be saved here.”

The assembly was followed Wednesday night by a faith-based event in the school performing arts center.  The group rented out the building for the event which it said in a statement was sponsored by a student led campus club.  “They’re being very dishonest in the sense they’re coming in to the school and dialing back the Jesus talk during school hours so they have the opportunity to recruit these students for the afterschool for activity,” Moore said.

NWISD said no parents had complained directly to the district about the group.  Fifteen students opted out of the afternoon assembly and attended a study hall instead.

More from Jason Allen
  • Solarcide

    Abstinence “education” is not secular. It’s overtly religious, and the data shows that it is not only ineffective, but actually results in higher rates of teen pregnancy as well as higher rates of STD infection among teens.

    • Ann

      This is absolutely true. I did a report on this for school last year, and the research is very clear on this.

    • Just Sayin'

      How is choosing not to have sex overtly religious? I don’t get it. One can choose not to have sex for reasons other than religious reasons. ” I don’t want a kid or have to consider getting an abortion!” “Hey, I don’t want genital warts, herpes, HIV. etc.” “I want to save it for marriage.”

      I’d love to read the data on this. I’m not doubting your claim. In fact, I’m concerned about how religious groups may be getting a foothold in the school system with the abstinence teaching. Can either of you supply some links? Thanks.

      • John David Stutts

        I, too, would like to see these reports. Links, please. I’m too lazy to sift through the dozens of Google results to find what I’m looking for.

  • Ann

    From The Seven Project’s website:
    “Connecting your community to share Jesus

    The Seven Project serves as a catalyst to mobilize and equip Christian communities to reach out to schools. The Seven Project is not merely a school assembly or evening rally. It is a comprehensive outreach strategy that equips and trains leaders and students in effective evangelism and discipleship.”

    Their intent seems pretty clear.

    And what are our taxpayer-supported schools doing having any private group, religious or secular, educating our children on sexual behavior, anyway? They should be taught either by the parents, the schools, or both, and certainly not abstinence-based methods, which have been proven to be not only ineffective but worse than any other method.

    • CSB

      I’m a guy, and I was abstinent all the way through high school. It was the five knuckle shuffle on the pi$s pump almost every day. Although I came from money and drove a nice new car, I was skinny and pale, so I may never have gotten any action anyway, but the real reason was that although I really wanted to try sex, I was truly scared to death of the potential consequences of sex that young, so I stayed away from it during those years. However, after I gained the “Freshman 15” after high school, turned into a dead-ringer for Matt Damon, and got out on my own, I got more tail than Tom Jones and Gene Simmons combined. The point is that abstinence can work, although it’s tough and requires torturous amounts of discipline.

  • Chanel

    Really?? Your talking about tax payers. I wish people would just get over it. You don’t even pay enough tax to keep teachers teaching. Why does a handful of athiest get to dictate what goes on during assembly. It took 1 athiest to knock praying out of school. Why can’t it take 100’s to put prayer back in school. It’s like this in more then just religion. One group/one person dictates while the majority don’t. AS FOR THEM DOING THIS IN SCHOOL FOR ABSTIENCE WELL IF MOST OF THE PARENTS WOULD DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO DO (RAISE THEIR OWN CHILDREN AND QUIT PUTTING IT OFF ON THE SCHOOLS) THEN MAYBE THE SCHOOSL WOULDN’T FEEL OBLIGATED TO BE THE PARENT.

    • Smarterthanyou72

      What if the prayer we institute in schools is to Allah and we pray toward Mecca five times a day? Are you still interested in prayer in school?

    • Misty Rose

      ITA!!! It makes e sad because every time I go up to the school my daughters teachers flock around me to tell me how she is and what shes been up to. They tell me they look for me because I’m one of the very few that care. THAT CARE!?!? How can you not care what your child is doing in school? How are they ever going to become a successful adult if you do not?

    • Scott

      What’s with all the YELLING? Remember that civil rights don’t get to be decided by majority rule. If the majority of the society insisted on separate drinking fountains based on race would you consider that fair? The state does not have the right to promote a particular religion (or any religion at all for that matter). Get over it.

    • Just some dude

      “It took 1 athiest to knock praying out of school. Why can’t it take 100′s to put prayer back in school.”

      See the First Amendment. Which one will it be: a government that follows principles that guarantee equal rights to everyone or mob rule where the majority decides everything, including having the possibility of killing people if enough people dislike them? And why is public display of ones religion so important to people when the Bible condemns vanity like that (Matthew 6:6)?

      Also, would you have the same aggressively defending tone if the school had a Satanist or a Muslim group doing the same thing?

  • http://fortworthinsight.com/news/group-says-school-assembly-blurs-line-of-church-state-2/ Group Says School Assembly Blurs Line Of Church & State « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Go to News Source […]

  • Misty Rose

    All I can say is ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Doctor Jones

    I hear you, MIsty!! If it were a Muslim group trying to recruit out of the public schools, it would be much more than just an alert group of atheists who are trying to raise a ruckus. Folks have to realize that state things and church things do NOT mix, I think our founding fathers had a few ideas on that very subject.

  • Chris

    America has a really big problem, and it’s sad how only 1 or 2 people can dictate so much in our lives. I agree with the comments made about that on this forum. What really saddens me is that America is trying so hard to please others nationalities and organiztions so they don’t ‘offend’ anyone that America herself has lost her own identity!!! Wake up America and realize that everything our Forefathers worked and died for is being taken away from you…slowly, but surely! It’s time for the Americans who care to make a stand…and a LOUD one! So, I commend NISD for getting groups in that will help these kids, because by today’s standards the America family is going down the tubes quickly!

    • Smarterthanyou72

      If the National Socialist Party wants to speak to your kids with a strong message of abstinence and then recruit them in an evening assembly, would you still feel the same? How about if the religious group was the Muslim Brotherhood – still interested?

    • Doctor Jones

      Chris, I agree. Having those 1 or 2 people coming into the schools to try to dictate that all of those kids will be converted is horrible. Our Forefathers did work and die to ensure that you could worship a teapot, a photocopier, a dog, any gods you could dream up, or not worship anything. That’s our identity, and I don’t want that lost because some whiny group demands that we let our children be indoctrinated into some weird religion. Oh, you used “commend” instead of “condemn”, but we get your meaning anyways.

  • kenneth workman

    this society has gotten stupid. our own kids cant say bless you in class anymor due to a religion stand point. they took god out of the schools, work, every day living. what happend to our right to religion, our right to worship who we want, who we believe in who we TRUST. Im half way tempted to put my child in a christian acadamy and let all the other people deal with the schools. cause if you dont have god you have nothing. my opinion

    • Smarterthanyou72

      And that is a blatant lie. Please tell us specifically which school district and school didn’t allow a child to say “bless you.” Let me guess, it happened to your brother’s accountant’s cousin’s kid, right? This is just more ridiculous urban legend/boogey man stories from the radical right – kind of like alligators in the sewer and the hook man. Really, people. God gave you a brain – use it!

    • RealityCheck

      You can’t say bless you? You’re joking right? What happened to your right to religion? Which religion is that? Let me guess…evangelical Christianity like Assemblies of God? Good thing there are no Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Buddhist, Atheist, or Jewish kids in public high schools! Oh wait. It’s ok to keep God in schools as long as it’s the right one. Yay! Right to religion…when it’s the True religion.

  • AntiAthiestic

    How many atheists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Two. One to actually change the bulb, and the other to videotape the job so fundamentalists won’t claim that god did it.

  • David Tiffany

    It’s good to know there are people out there who are concerned about the future of our children. There are definitely those out there who want to take all hope away from our children. http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • RealityCheck

      Yeah, because atheists hate children. They want them all to be miserable beings with no purpose or happiness. You figured them out! Good thing we have the Christians to tell everybody how lost and void their lives are without God. Only when people realize that not believing in Jesus will cause then to spend an eternity in damnation can they actually have hope. Our God is awesome and loving! Except when you don’t acknowledge Him…then he gets mad and let’s the devil get you! Yay hope!

  • Smarterthanyou72

    “Religion is like a peni$. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around. And please don’t try to shove it down our children’s throats.”

  • darrell

    as far as the particular event is concerned its a non-issue. nothing religious about it. as far as the athiest are concerned, they should be placed in a 6X6 room for a month and forced to listen to old Oral Roberts sermons 24 hours a day to teach them what its like to force ones opinions off on others when you should have minded your own buisness to begin with.

  • Rachel Cross DeVille

    The students could choose to go to the rally no one is forcing them too. But if they do then they will hear the True Gospel that hits straight to the heart.If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ then you are not going to be with Him in the end simple as that!! Jesus loves you regardless but that does not mean practice in your sin and you are fine, He loves you soo much that His decision to bring you to Heaven or Hell means that He is giving you what you deserve because you made that choice in your lifetime Jesus is Coming Soon Repent now or it will be too late!! I support THE SEVEN PROJECT hundreds of students lives has been changed completely they get delivered from thoughts of suicide, alcoholism, drugs, depression, cutting, anorexia, and etc. Jesus is the only Complete Satisfaction and Medicine for anything you are going through. Fix your eyes on HIm and you will be forever changed and your life will be full of everlasting joy.

    • RealityCheck

      Fix your eyes on a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father and will torture you forever if you don’t make him your invisible friend and master so he can save your soul from an evil force unleashed on the world when a woman made from a rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Yay Jesus!

    • darrell

      rachel, did you even read the story? it clearly states that no religious matters or material were discussed or available at the rally. what happens during non-school hours in rented facilities or what the organization puts on its website in no way violates seperation of church and state. some students still opted not to attend and instead went to a study hall area. this is a non-issue being raised by a few attention seeking busy bodies who need to get a life.

      • RealityCheck
      • darrell

        ok, i looked at the PTSA website. your points are invalid as the terms quoted are as vague as the rest of the mission statement. no where else on the site does it say anything about religion or spiritual education. PTSA, part of the national PTA organization is customized for individual schools. i hope those subpeona’s come out soon. in the mean time i stand by what i said about busy bodies minding their own buisness. being an athiest yourself im sure you will understand.

      • RealityCheck

        There were no posters. There were fliers. There were emails. There was no disclosure about who was actually conducting the ceremony until someone objected. They will come out in the event of a subpoena. But, to give you some context, understand that this was a PTSA event being pushed under the veil of a character program. I don’t expect you to take my word for it, but just take a look at the school’s PTSA website and notice the clear inclusion of “place of worship” and “spiritual education.” The motives are obvious. They tried to pull a fast one and got called out for it…thus the attempt at damage control.

      • RealityCheck

        Actually, this was a mandatory assembly, with administration marketing T-Shirts, conducted by the principal’s fundamentalist evangelical church, with religious affiliations which were undisclosed to students, parents, and staff….

        That is, until the atheist group visited the school board meeting and brought it to the attention of the public. Then, overnight it became an optional event in which kids still didn’t know who was sponsoring it, with teachers being told to wear school spirit shirts instead of the Seven Project T-shirts bought without knowing that they were supporting a radical right wing fundamentalist group. Oh, did I mention that they didn’t have to rent the facilities until their was controversy because it was a Youth Alive (campus club) event?

        So yeah, attention seeking busy bodies who need to get a life indeed…damned annoying atheists, their full disclosure and Constitutional concerns.

      • darrell

        i assume there are copies of fliers, emails, staff notes, assembly notices to students etc. do you have links for those? maybe promotional posters or something?

      • RealityCheck

        Well, 2 + 2 really does equal 4 regardless of whether or not YOU can do the math. Seven Project is a Youth Alive (Assemblies of God) campaign to evangelize in schools. http://yausa.com/seven/

        The high school’s chapter of the club (http://www.facebook.com/YouthAliveBNHS) makes its intentions and its affiliations with The Seven Project clear and even created an “event” to promote the worship service that night in which you can see the fliers http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=256402507737817

        They also are clearly the party behind the “project” as they even show pictures of the T Shirts that were being sold, which by the way, were made by Antivenom Christian Wear (scroll down their page for pics)

        Finally, one of the board members of the school’s PTA (http://www.bnhsptsa.com/Executive_Board.html), Ricky Franklin http://www.facebook.com/ricky.franklin is the self described “VP & Spiritual Chair of PTA” and spearheaded the project on campus, and can be seen at last year’s event wielding a Bible and proselytizing starting at the 2:20 mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycfzq9EuwRc

        Busy bodies minding their own business indeed…it’s laughable. It really doesn’t take much effort or intelligence to connect the dots. What it does require is the ability to think objectively. Good luck with that.

  • RealityCheck

    More PTSA Pastor Ricky talking about his intentions and use of his children in schools.

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