One of the most conspicuous atheist activist groups is seeking to stop an Ohio pastor from holding a voluntary lunchtime Bible study for students at a local middle school.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the superintendent of the Indian Creek School District to assert that it is unconstitutional for the district to allow Bobbyjon Bauman of the Valley Youth Network to offer the study during school hours at Indian Creek Middle School.
The group further called the pastor’s gospel presentations “predatory conduct.”
“It is unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders access to befriend and proselytize students during the school day on school property,” FFRF wrote. “This predatory conduct is inappropriate and should raise many red flags. The district cannot allow its schools to be used as recruiting grounds for churches during the school day.”
“When a school allows Church representatives to recruit students for the Church, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message—in this case, a Christian message. This practice alienates those non-Christian students, teachers and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being endorsed by the school,” it asserted.
The Church-State separation group also contended that the fact that the Bible study is voluntary—that it is only attended by students who are interested—does not alleviate concerns.
“Please note that it makes no difference that students are not required to attend these preaching sessions. Voluntariness does not excuse a constitutional violation,” FFRF wrote. “The district must immediately discontinue allowing Mr. Bauman, or any other preachers, access to students during the school day.”
According to FFRF, the organization had been alerted by a local resident about Bauman’s Bible study, and also reviewed his social media posts, which included a notation on Feb. 23 that 165 students decided to attend that day. Full report