Concerns Raised Wisconsin City Might Be Caving to Atheists Who Object to ‘Jesus Lunch’ Adjacent to School

Lunch-compressedMIDDLETON, Wisc. — Concerns are being raised over the possibility that a proposal to eliminate reservations for a pavilion in a public park in Wisconsin is actually a means of caving in to a prominent atheist activist group that has taken issue with a weekly “Jesus Lunch” gathering at a local high school.

As previously reported, the “Jesus Lunch” began in 2014 as the parents of several students at Middleton High School decided to provide a free lunch in Fireman’s Park, which is adjacent to the school grounds. Students discuss a Bible topic during the lunch and attendance is voluntary.

According to reports, the weekly event began with 40 students attending and now has grown to 400 two years later.

But in April, Principal Steve Plank and District Administrator Don Johnson sent a letter to parents stating that the lunch violates district policies, as it is led by adults who also do not check into the school as guests. They told reporters that the rules are applicable because the city leased the park to the district years ago.

“The parents contend that it is their First Amendment right to provide free food and hold a religiously oriented event on this property during school hours,” the letter stated. “The district believes that we have jurisdiction of this leased property, which is part of our campus.”

However, the parents asserted that the park is public property and is consequently not subject to district requirements.

“Although the school district contends that it is school grounds because they have a lease, the public still has a right to use the park during school hours,” lunch organizers said in a statement. “By law, the lease agreement between the city and the School District of Middleton does not privatize the park.”

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Following continued controversy over the matter, Johnson recommended that the district cancel the lease with the city to bring resolution to the issue, and the Middleton City Council voted to rescind the lease.

Jesus Lunch organizers were cautiously optimistic about the development, but months later are now are expressing concern through their attorney as City Administration Mike Davis has recommended to do away with reservations for the pavilion at Fireman’s Park.

“This is very disappointing. If there is no significant demand (for use of the park pavilion), why would you discourage someone from renting it?” attorney Phillip Stamman told EAG News. “It’s disappointing for citizens, from a free speech perspective, and it’s probably illegal, too.”

He opined that the proposal might have been presented to assuage the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which literally went to the location at one point to protest. Making the pavilion first come, first serve means that the Jesus Lunch gathering could be pushed out if FFRF arrives first and spitefully occupies the space.

“The city can put neutral restrictions on a public park. But it’s not allowed to single out an organization because it doesn’t like their speech,” Stamman said. “There’s no question this is happening right now. This is about a group of citizens who want to put out a message about Jesus, and (city officials) are only considering this ordinance because they don’t want that message.”

Davis says that he proposed the policy change to “show that the city is not giving preferential treatment to any single group that wants to use the large pavilion at Fireman’s Park.”

If reservations are no longer required, the move could nullify “Jesus Lunch’s” dibs on the space for the next year, as organizers normally contract with the city to reserve the pavilion for a full year.

The city attorney has reportedly expressed his disagreement with the policy change out of concern of a lawsuit.


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  • robertzaccour

    Atheists have to always be offended about something. They have no hope and take it out on other people.

    • getstryker

      I’ve always been amazed at the time, money and effort spent opposing Christians and their beliefs and actions by a group that claims ‘there is no God!’

      • TheKingOfRhye

        Atheists don’t necessarily claim there is no god, for one thing. It’s just they don’t believe in one. There is a difference there. And I don’t see how anyone has to believe in a god to oppose what people that do are doing.

        • getstryker

          Yes, I am aware that ‘atheists’ deny that God exists and ‘agnostics’ aren’t sure if God exists or not . . . yes, there is a difference but the result is many times the same – open hostility towards ‘people of Christian faith’. Our Constitution allows Freedom OF Religion to those that do not believe. They have the same ‘right’ to oppose Christian actions by word and lawful deed as Christians have to oppose their ‘faithless beliefs and actions’. We’ll see how the courts settle this matter.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            “Yes, I am aware that ‘atheists’ deny that God exists and ‘agnostics’ aren’t sure if God exists or not”

            No, that’s not what I was saying. Atheism is not having belief in a god or gods, agnosticism is not claiming to have knowledge of a god or gods. People can have one or the other, or neither, or both.

          • getstryker

            Fine, define it whatever way you like. That was NOT the issue in my response . . . read it again – I was pointing out that ‘atheists, agnostics and believers in God’ have the Constitutional right to believe or not and to speak and act on those beliefs or non-beliefs in a lawful manner. Again, the courts will decide!

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Well, that I definitely agree with.

          • C_Alan_Nault

            God does exist.

      • Jan

        They allow a Satanist invocation, but a school lunch is just going too far? What are they afraid of? That the students might actually believe in God if they want to? The results being morality in an immoral world? This whole thing just isn’t logical. .

        • getstryker

          FFRF has always been a ‘bully’ . . . it sends letters threatening to sue if city councils, schools, etc., don’t stop the supposed ‘unconstitutional’ violations of saying prayers before meetings or other so-called ‘offenses. It’s usually the cost of the potential lawsuit that is the stated reason they cave in . . . Pro Bono defense is offered by several Christian legal entities – in my opinion . . . they want a fight – lets go to war!

      • Jalapeno

        “what are you opposing???”

        Peoples beliefs getting priority in areas that are supposed to be secular and neutral…

        • getstryker

          The answer to your question is in the comments I have already made.

          • Jalapeno

            ..I didn’t ask a question. I copied a question that you asked in the interest of being more clear what I was talking about.

          • getstryker

            Is THIS not your entire question???

            “what are you opposing???” Peoples beliefs getting priority in areas that are supposed to be secular and neutral…”

            As I pointed out: “The answer to your question is in the comments I have already made.”

          • Jalapeno

            That’s not MY question.

            It’s yours. I did not ask a question.

          • getstryker

            Then I guess we have nothing to talk about, do we Jalapeno! Have a great day 😉

          • Jalapeno

            I..uh..okay.

            You asked a question (sort of)..I answered it..and you started talking about how you answered a non-existent question.

            Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.

          • getstryker

            I sleep well thank you . . . good night to you and yours as well.

      • Cat Steppings

        Any christian, muslim, jew, hindu, buddhist, or member of any other of the thousands of religions that worship any number of thousands of gods should support the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They do not oppose belief systems but seek to uphold the separation of church and state. Without the separation, no religion can practice freely. You can’t have freedom of religion if the government only favors one religion. There is not supposed to be any national or state religion. Separation of church and state ensures all religious practices are protected from any one religion being a bully and trying to be a dominant religion.

        • getstryker

          There ya go . . . you accurately presented a snippet of FFRF propaganda quite well. The only thing I saw you wrote that I agree with was this line: “There is not supposed to be any national or state religion.” . . . totally agree.

          The following comment you made does not make sense. “Separation of church and state ensures all religious practices are protected from any one religion being a bully and trying to be a dominant religion.” In what manner do you claim ANY religion in the USA is trying to be dominant (aside from the obvious foreign offenders) . . . . People of religious belief exercise their rights to ‘Freedom of Speech’ to advocate for biblical morality – secular proponents do the same (by their own standard of morality) when they advocate abortion, gay rights, etc. . . . EVERYONE, secular and religious, makes attempts to legislate or influence how ‘morality’ is decided in this country . . . Freedom OF Religion and the attempt to influence moral rules that society lives by are two different things.

    • rfsb

      Kafka once said “There is hope, but not for us.” There may be salvation for you at the end of the road we all travel. Good for you that you believe that, but it takes an unwarranted leap of logic to say that someone else has no hope unless you ask them.

  • Michael C

    Wait, this religious group wants “dibs” on exclusive access to school children? They want to reserve the pavilion for the whole year, every year, to ensure that they’re the only group permitted to lure kids into their sect with free food?

    • Sharon_at_home

      No that’s not what they want. First of all it is not a “religious group” – it’s a couple of parents that want to offer a free lunch to the students that CHOOSE for themselves to attend. Considering the number of students went from 40 to over 400 shows that the STUDENTS made personal decisions to attend knowing that the bible was what was going to be discussed. If the students were not interested in the bible or were not influenced by the bible topic, they could still attend for the free lunch. These parents have been doing this for years and no one interfered. The FFRF decided to stick their nose in, these children will not only be without a free lunch, but will be shown that what they want to do doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t like it. It’s the students that choose to go and stay, not the parents that provide the free lunch. Since you obviously aren’t aware of it, Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow him (that thing you call a cult) HAS to be willing and able to choose to – no one is forcing the students to do anything. Not a thing. I’m sure if any of the students chose to leave after the meal they would allow it just because they are not willing to find out what it means to follow Jesus.
      Reserving the pavilion for the whole year is not unusual whether it’s for this or for Scouts or for any other group that wants to have a pavilion to meet at. And by the way, offering information about the bible so the students will be knowledgeable enough to make their own decision about whether to continue to follow what the bible says, or not to, is not “Luring” them into believing in the bible, it’s offering them a chance to make a personal choice about something they will know about because they chose to attend and learn about it. Basically, it’s the same as extra-curricular activities which the students can choose to participate in. Ask any Christian if they were forced to be a Christian and you will find that the answer is No – it has to be something that a person is willing to do, not forced to do.

      • RWH

        So, I take it that it would be okay for you to have your children enticed by some religious cult, like the Manson Family, or God forbid, the Moslems, by some free food and lots of cultist brainwashing?

        • getstryker

          Gee, you really think that a hot dog and a drink is enough to ‘lure’ children into a cult??? Besides, what do you offer to get ‘children’ to believe what you claim is true??? Surprisingly, Freedom OF Religion allows you to believe and Christians to believe as each my choose.

          • RWH

            That would be all well and good if you were talking about adults. However, these are minors, and the school is liable for what happens at events like this that are held during the school day. Also, you didn’t answer my question. Would you feel the same way if this were a group that you did not support? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Give this group unrestricted access, and you must do so for the Young Communist League, the Moslems, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so on. Do you want large groups of students lured by those groups as well. Considering the state of school cafeteria food these days, hot dogs and pop sounds pretty enticing. Teens aren’t too fussy as long as its junk food.

          • Becky

            The public schools are already teaching kids many things that go against God’s word.

          • RWH

            If you want a school that catechizes kids in a particular religious view of life, send them to a parochial school. A lot of parents don’t want schools delving into matters of religion where one faith is given preference over another. We have already seen this in the late 1800s when the Catholic hierarchy founded parochial schools because they didn’t want Protestant prayers and reading out of the King James Bible. However, the question remains, do you want some adults whom you don’t know enticing your children with food and prizes so that they can indoctrinate them with religious beliefs that you may not support? And how do you know that these people have not been properly vetted. A lot of predators hide out in organizations like this where they can entice kids in an unrestricted manner.

            If this is during school time, where schools have loco en parent-is, the school is liable–and not only the “atheists” should be concerned about that. I know of some people whose children were sexually enticed in such a situation as this one, also in the state of Wisconsin.

          • Becky

            Public schools are already teaching kids many things that are against God’s word, in fact most of what you mentioned…whether parents like it or not. Btw, school teachers aren’t properly investigated either. So, any anti-Christ event that takes place, pales in comparison to what the public education system has already done to kids.

          • RWH

            The teachers are properly investigated. Teachers and all others who are around students must undergo a clearance check every three years. In most places, anyone convicted of narcotics possession loses his/her teaching license immediately. As for clearances, there are three major ones, and they involve fingerprinting. If for some reason you don’t think that Wisconsin doesn’t require mandated clearances or is sloppy about it, you’ll need to substantiate that if you want to have any credibility in this discussion.

          • Becky

            Those investigations do not bring everything into light. For example…you brought up predators…how often do we learn that teachers are pedophiles in disguise?

          • RWH

            Becky, The FBI, state governments, and federal governments have extensive databases. We rejected a candidate once because the three searches pulled up a DUI from 1981 from a state halfway across the country. If a person were arrested for a crime, it will show up. If you think that there are pedophiles in disguise, come up with your evidence, or admit that you’re just grandstanding.

            You’d do a better job keeping your own house in order. The Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN (the world’s largest Sunday School) is sitting in prison right now because he had sex with a minor across state lines. What makes this so significant was the the church was ready to give the pastor a pass and incriminate the minor for enticing him. There is another fundamentalist school not too far away where church officials have gotten into trouble over much the same thing. There’s a Facebook page out there of people who were sexually abused within some of our so-called respectable fundamentalist churches.

          • Becky

            For starters, look into James Verity and Stanley Kendall. Kendall, who was on “To catch a predator”, was arrested, fired from his Texas teaching job, had his license revoked, yet still managed to get hired as a sub in Indiana. Who knows just how many “teachers” have fallen through the cracks and are now alone with kids.

            Keep my own house in order? What does this pastor, or those other matters, to do with me? A person that commits sin is not of God…it doesn’t matter how many times he calls himself a Christian. A Christian is someone who walks according to the word of God…Christ.

          • getstryker

            Or that ‘teacher-student’ sexual relationships are happening. And now, government mandated sharing of showers, locker rooms, etc. . . . Oh yeah – and these idiots are worried about a hotdog, drink and a little Jesus morality being taught. Like I said – a bunch of ‘morooons’

          • getstryker

            Oh yes . . . and ‘they’ get 6 hours a day, five days a week to do it . . . to go from 40 to over 400 kids attending the Jesus Lunch activity for one hour, once a week . . . gotta be more than a tasty hotdog and drink!

          • getstryker

            Oh, you are wrong in your characterization of me and my feelings about this event or ones similar to it. There is a ‘free marketplace of ideas’ out there. If those that believe differently or oppose the ‘Christian event’ wish to produce their own events, whether they be ‘religious or secular’ . . . have at it. Those that wish to attend may do so, those that don’t – won’t! Believers and NON-believers have every right to promote their beliefs . . . it’s called ‘Freedom OF Religion’ – a good thing!

        • Jan

          Could you be any more ignorant?

          • RWH

            It’s sort of ironic getting a comment like this from someone like you. I just got finished reading a news story from the Long Island Daily News about some parents who are suing their church. It seems that while the parents were talking with the pastor, their small children were sent out to play with the pastor’s son. The boy came back with his zipper undone and his pants half down. It seems that the four-year-old was sexually abused while his sister watched in horror. The minister knew that his son had problems and never informed the parents nor had the son supervised.

            We’ll see who’s ignorant when someone you love has a child abused by someone when they are supposed to be under the care of trusted adults.

          • getstryker

            Very, very accurate and very well said!

      • Michael C

        it’s a couple of parents that want to offer a free lunch to the students

        A “couple of parents” aren’t spending thousands of dollars every week to feed hundreds of kids. This is an organized religious group. It may have started out as a couple of parents, but it’s morphed into something entirely different. It’s funded and staffed by churches.

        ..[Jesus Lunch] organizers normally contract with the city to reserve the pavilion for a full year.

        …and these churches want sole access to the kids. They don’t want any other group to be permitted to do what they’re doing.

        They’re demanding that the government give their religious group preferential treatment by providing them with exclusive access to the pavilion. That’s unconstitutional.

        • getstryker

          They don’t occupy the Park 365 days a year . . . it’s a ‘weekly event’ . . . you want to have an event . . . reserve it and do it.

        • Jan

          So are you objecting to who might be helping pah for the food? When you have a group of 400 to feed lunch to, you are going to have to increase the staff of servers as well.
          As to the rest of your comment, you are just pulling non truths out of the air. The sponsors of these lunches don’t have “sole access”. Others are free to do whatever at the park. You stated that “they don’t want any other group to be permitted to do what they’re doing”. Are you serious? Anyone else could have done it, but they didn’t! Your accusation is totally without foundation! This lunch is only ONE day per week, for only 2 of 3 hours! If YOU want to feed these kidsfree f

          • getstryker

            Very well said! 😉

      • Becky

        FFRF, the so-called “freethinkers”, hates it when people think for themselves and make their own decisions. It shakes them to their core.

    • Jan

      No, they just make reservations for once a week for a couple hours. It’s not exclusive, others can make reservations also. .

    • Jan

      Two hours per week is not “exclusive access”. Others are free to make a reservation as well..

  • TheKingOfRhye

    I’m almost surprised The Satanic Temple (the group that there was a story on here about how they did a Satanist invocation at a Florida city council meeting) isn’t getting involved in this yet. Like maybe as an alternative to a Jesus Lunch, they could offer Satanist Snacks, or a Baphomet Buffet, you know…

    • getstryker

      And if they did and ‘children’ attended it (with or without their parents permission) and ‘people of faith’ attempted to intervene in the manner portrayed in this article . . . what would be your response to those actions?

      • TheKingOfRhye

        Well, if they did that while the “Jesus Lunch” was still going on, and the people that were involved in, or supporting the Jesus Lunch were the ones doing the protesting, I’d say they were a bunch of hypocrites. Other than that….I’m kind of not sure about this one way or the other, to tell the truth. If, as they say, it’s not on school grounds, and attendance is voluntary, it oughta be okay, I guess. But you’d also have to make sure any group that wanted access could have it.

        • getstryker

          I absolutely agree with you . . . my position is NOT about denying access or the right to express a contrary opinion . . . Freedom OF Religion allows all that . . . the ‘turn out’ to ‘other groups, religious or secular, will determine the extent of audience acceptance of the message presented. It appears that the Jesus Lunch message is well accepted.

        • axelbeingcivil

          It is on school grounds, but those grounds are considered open to the public.

    • Cat Steppings

      You said it. If any other religion or cult was doing this type of event the christians would be up in arms about the evil group trying to brainwash the precious teens by baiting them with free food. If this was a student led event with no adult involvement it would be ok, though.

      • Jan

        If there was no adult involvement, there would be no free luncheon!

    • Oberon

      How about a Cthulhu Coffeehouse?

      • TheKingOfRhye

        Yeah, and they could serve ice cream, too……Necronomicones!

  • byebyejoe

    Christian, Don’t Let The Sun Set On You Here, Understand?

    • getstryker

      Or what???

    • TheKingOfRhye

      Isn’t that an Elton John song?

      • Cat Steppings

        Yes. His hit “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”. I think George Michael also sang it.

  • Eileen Dennis

    I think this athiest stuff has gone to far wake up athiests God is coming be ready you have a creater wether you like it or not and he’s name is Jesus you should spend more time finding out who he is instead of always dismissing him and being ready to take him out from every where

  • Eileen Dennis

    this athiest stuff has gone to far wake up athiests God is coming be ready you have a creater wether you like it or not and he’s name is Jesus you should spend more time finding out who he is instead of always dismissing him and being ready to take him out from every where but it won’t be long before he rules and reins on earth but the none believers won’t be here

  • Becky

    If this were an Islam Lunch the “freethinkers” wouldn’t say a word.

    • getstryker

      Absolutely true . . . isn’t it amazing that the only ‘belief system’ that is attacked the highest percentage of the time is Christianity. You and I know that’s because, ‘TRUE Christianity’ (not the cults, false belief systems and religious imposters that use that title) is the only one with the power, authority and means to offer salvation unto eternal life thru Jesus Christ.

      • axelbeingcivil

        Or it could just be that, since the majority of religious people in the US are Christian, the largest number of violations of separation of church and state are committed by Christians? It’s just the law of averages.

        • getstryker

          Oh absolutely, you could have a valid point (if your definition of ‘separation of church and state’ was correct) – in the USA, except that those attacks on ‘true Christianity’ are rampant throughout the world. Becky also had a very valid point . . . Christians, when attacked, very seldom ‘hit back’. I’d very much like to see the ‘gutless wonders’ at FFRF pull this ‘bully crap’ on Muslims and their activities here in the USA. They live by a different ‘rule book’ – I’ll wait for it.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Do you have examples of Muslims doing any of the things the FFRF frequently sues about, in the United States? Preventing other religious groups from delivering invocations, putting up monuments on public property, etc.?

          • getstryker

            No, not yet . . . that is what I said I was waiting for . . . to see if FFRF would apply the same standards to the Muslims as they currently apply to Christians. Muslims have not yet achieved sufficient population or political strength to dictate the examples you cited above, however, I do believe that time will come in the next 10 to 20 years. Lets see how strong FFRF vaunted convictions about absolute ‘separation of church and state’ are then when Sharia is the law.

          • axelbeingcivil

            So if they’re not doing the same thing, why would you expect to see the FFRF pursue them in the same way?

          • getstryker

            It’s not a matter of IF the Muslims will do something that violates the supposed ‘separation of church and state’ that FFRF is so quick to defend . . . it’s a matter of ‘WHEN’. It will happen in the next 10 to 20 years – maybe sooner. I will be very interested to see if the stalwart champions of that legal concept will be as quick to apply their ‘bullying tactics’ to a group that WILL ‘hit back!’ FFRF engages in a war of lawsuits and words with Christians because Christians may or may not respond in a similar manner – lawsuits and words. I want to see if FFRF is as brave and determined when the ‘hit back’ is with guns and bombs. Lets see how strong FFRF’s convictions are when ‘ole Dan’s’ head is stuck on a pole. And believe me, that’s only the beginning of his problems! He still gets to meet the God he denies – not gonna be a good day for ‘ole Dan!’

          • axelbeingcivil

            I’m not sure they’ll have to, man. I think mainstream America would rather stop the religious abuses it currently accepts than let others get away with them.

          • getstryker

            Stop ‘religious abuses?’ . . . Student initiated and lead prayer, voluntary prayer at football games, Freedom OF Speech (prayer) exhibited in schools, religious monuments of ALL kinds on public grounds, Christmas nativity scenes, peaceful protests in front of abortion clinics, Christian prayers at city council meetings where all faiths are invited to be scheduled and give the invocation . . . just what ‘religious abuses’ do you refer to that cause such harm that FFRF must threaten to sue???
            ‘Separation of church and state’ is just the ‘buzz-phrase’ to legitimize their actions. IMO – if it’s war they want – then Christians should call their bluff ‘en masse’ and lets go to war. There are legal entities that will defend Freedom OF Religion cases ProBono . . . no religious freedom should be given away without a fight . . . lets see what FFRF is really made of. As far as the Muslims go . . . FFRF will get its change with them soon enough. I look forward to it.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Any time the government acts in such a way that favours one religion over others – or even simply religion over non-religion – there is an abuse. If you build a monument for one religion, you have to build them for all or none. Students holding a moment of prayer can lead to the exclusion of those who don’t bow their heads and go along. And so on.

            The law is clear. Your gleeful thoughts of other people suffering are unbecoming.

          • getstryker

            I agree with your first comments about government favoring one religion over another – that is wrong. However, I pointed out in my previous comment, for example, that student lead prayer, public activities where any person of any faith may give an invocation, and yes, even in ‘moments of silence’ where no one is forced to participate either way, are NOT abuses. Freedom to participate in a religious activity or not IS Freedom OF Religion.

            Apparently, as a nation, we have become so ‘PC’ that even the mention of faith in a deity is considered a ‘micro-aggression’. Well, I have some news for all the ‘panty-waists’ that teach that insanity – Aside from the ‘playpen’ we call college and universities, there are NO ‘safe-zones’ in the real world. Those little ‘boys and girls, or whatever else they may refer to themselves as, are going to be in for a rather rude awakening when they graduate and try to bring that ‘crap’ into the workplace.

            I, and millions of others in this world, have lived with and witnessed ‘suffering’ – there is no ‘glee’ in watching anyone suffer, but there is the satisfaction that justice is done when injustice has caused suffering – FFRF’s day will come! My wish is sooner than later.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Last I checked, nobody’s sued over a non-denominational moment of silence. Likewise, invocations have been found constitutional if – and ONLY if – people of any faith or of no faith are free to register to be included in those invocations as well. Both of these things are fine by me.

            Student-led prayers are also fine in, say, religious student groups, but they’re not in secular activities like sports teams because they specifically lead to feelings of exclusion and/or coercion for students who are not a part of that religious group. When such actions are given time and sanction by authority figures, this adds to the sensation of coercion and discomfort.

          • getstryker

            Of course, we could both write a book with all the exceptions and instances when prayer is and is not permitted . . . and much of those times we would seem to agree on. However, the common complaint that: ” the Christian nature of the prayers makes someone feel “offended, disenfranchised, and intimidated.” is no reason to stop those prayers when allowed by law in public venues. I just don’t recall anywhere in the Constitution that anyone has ‘a right to NOT be offended by anyone’s speech’ – do you?? That PC admonition is merely a means to stifle lawful speech. A means to intimidate someone into NOT speaking their mind. It’s often a tactic of FFRF.
            There’s an old adage: ‘If ya don’t like the movie – leave’ . . . If ya don’t want to hear a scheduled prayer at a public meeting – then enter late, leave, or don’t come. Personally, I don’t care about someone’s ‘supposed hurt feelings’ when it silences my, or any others, Freedom OF Speech – even yours! You have as much right to express your beliefs, thoughts and feelings as I do. It’s called ‘Freedom OF Speech – NOT Freedom FROM Speech!

          • axelbeingcivil

            Alright, something needs to be cleared up: Legal standing.

            Under United States law, you can’t just bring a suit against the government because you are displeased by the law or believe it to be unconstitutional; you must actively demonstrate harm has been caused by the law or action before you can bring suit.

            In other words, if the government created a law saying that only people of a certain ethnicity can run for political office, you couldn’t just challenge the law directly. Someone would actively have to have been forbidden from running for office before the law could be challenged in court. This, despite it being blatantly unconstitutional.

            So when someone takes an issue to court, they have to say they were offended or felt disenfranchised or what have you, because it is a legal requirement. They cannot say “I’m challenging this because it is unconstitutional”, even if all prior legal precedent and subsequent court rulings say that it very much is. It does not matter one whit without standing.

            (This is, incidentally, why gay marriage is such an interesting issue: To challenge it in court now, opponents would have to provide standing and show, somehow, that gay marriage has hurt them.)

            Does that clear up at all why people talk about offense in these matters? Why it’s so important that they do?

          • getstryker

            Although I am not a lawyer, I believe that I do understand enough of the law to concur with what you have said. And IF an individual (someone recruited by FFRF) files a complaint and shows they have ‘standing’ . . . the case can proceed. Otherwise, the case would be dismissed. Right?
            Please, correct me if I am wrong but, those that bring the lawsuit would need to show ‘actual damages’ i.e., costs incurred, mental or physical injury sustained attested to by a competent physician, etc. to win. Is that the gist of it?

            Tell me – Does that mean that anyone walking by a church on Sunday that overhears the sermon and prayer in Jesus Name would be able to sue the church/paster/congregation/God, etc., because they were: “offended, disenfranchised, and intimidated” in that moment? Does simply ‘hearing’ speech that offends them give them ‘standing?’

          • axelbeingcivil

            I think you’ve misunderstood a little, on a few points.

            First, legal standing isn’t evidence of wrongdoing in and of itself; it’s merely a necessary precursor to an actual suit going forwards. In other words, if a government official takes an act that is entirely in keeping with the law, it doesn’t matter if someone is offended or not; offense is merely a precondition requirement for any suit about the legality of the law in question to go ahead.

            (And, for the record, I’m not sure how “real” the damages have to be, but they have to be a direct consequence of the law or action in question. In other words, you couldn’t, say, sue over an invocation because you’re offended by religion itself; it’d have to be because the law itself in some way violates your rights, such as only allowing one religious group to deliver invocations and thus violating your First Amendment rights.)

            That’s why no-one could sue a church just for being offended by what they hear coming out of the building. Yes, they might genuinely be offended, but it’s not illegal in any way for the church to perform that action and, therefore, is not standing for a suit of any kind.

            Malady necessary for standing is a precondition for a suit to begin but is not the basis in and of itself for the suit, if you get my meaning.

            AmbulanceChaser may do a better job of explaining this than me.

          • getstryker

            Thank you for explaining it in more depth. So, for example, if a city council offer to clergy of all faiths, the opportunity to speak/pray an invocation at every meeting and the majority of respondents are of the Christian faith, (other faiths simply do not take advantage of the opportunity by their own volition) – how can someone attending a meeting where a Christian pastor gives that invocation be : “offended, disenfranchised, and intimidated.” and have any ‘standing’ to sue? One religion is not being favored over any other – does the prayer become unlawful government endorsement of a particular religious speech simply because there are more Christian Pastors in that city? FFRF seems to like to sue at the mention of any invocation that end “in Jesus Name. How is a law being broken?

          • axelbeingcivil

            That’s the thing: The law isn’t broken in that circumstance. Courts have consistently found that, so long as the city council makes sure that people of all faiths (or of no faith) are given equal and ample opportunity to have a turn delivering invocations, no law is being broken.

            There was even a Supreme Court ruling on this recently, wasn’t there?

          • getstryker

            I am not aware of a specific case but I’m certainly happy if one actually exists. Freedom OF Religion/Freedom OF Speech – are rights in the Constitution that belong to everyone. I have no problem with someone with a contrary opinion as long as my/anyone’s ability to rebut that opinion is not hindered. It is the injustice and perversion of the Rule of Law that bothers me – the outright fraud and deception that tries to limit or eliminate our rights. It has been good discussing this issue with you. I look forward to more – but, understand, you and I may have opposing positions on issues but we can respect each others right to argue, fight and rebut with vigor . . . May God Bless you and yours . . Good night 😉

          • axelbeingcivil

            The case I was thinking of is Town of Greece v. Galloway, decided in 2014. It states that prayers are not constitutionally restricted if:

            -The prayer must be done only during a ceremonial portion of a meeting. It cannot be a part of an official action.
            -The body that requests prayers must accept anyone within its community to give prayers or invocations, and may not dictate what can or cannot be in the prayers (so long as these prayers do not disparage or discriminate against a specific faith).
            -The audience must be mostly or entirely adults.

            In other words, as long as the town council accepts anyone to deliver the invocations, it’s constitutional. Which is fine by me.

            And, yes, disagree though we may on certain things, we can certainly agree on that. As long as people are free to disagree with opinion and words, may we never see the need to do so with our fists. Have a good one!

          • Jan

            Feelings of exclusion and/or coercion and discomfort?
            That’s so stupid! We have said prayers before sports since the beginning of sports in America! Those who don’t want to pray along is fine. .The only reason for people to feel left out, etc, is because our ignorant lawmakers have made a big deal out of it! They have passed laws where certain groups are “protected” from free speach, while others are not! We are no longer equal! The government has divided us into groups, so whenever someone within their group doesn’t like something the non group is doing, they cry Victim! They are like children who are always saying,
            NO FAIR! YOU HAVE SOMETHING I DON’T HAVE!
            Let me tell you the truth about the lie, called separation of church and state; We are currently using that clause to justify the state shutting up and gagging Christians! “Congress shall make NO LAW concerning religion, or the FREE EXERCISE thereof. ” This means the State has no business telling Christians they don’t have the right to hang the Ten Commandments on the wall of a government building..We have the right to put up a Nativity scene! We have the right to speak Gods word!
            WE are the government! WE own that building! They don’t teach the Constitution or the Bill of Rights in school anymore, so maybe you haven’t learned. Our forefathers’ intent was Christianity, NOT satanism, or Islam, or other “religions”.
            Everyone needs to stop walking on eggshells around evil men!

          • axelbeingcivil

            There’s a weird amount of cognitive dissonance going on when you make the statement that people have no reason to feel excluded, then actively agree that Christians are privileged and receive treatment other groups do not. When you make a statement that society’s problem is separation into tribes and then crow about your tribe’s superiority, you’ve got some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

            You’re not being gagged. You’re being treated like everyone else. That privileges you are used to having are no longer being treated as gratis.

            You’re a bully, mate. People are just actually willing to call you on it now.

          • Amos Moses

            –A radical mosque known for breeding terrorists has been granted special privileges by Bloomington, Minnesota, which allows its members to take over a public park and treat it as their own to the exclusion of other residents…..

          • getstryker

            I saw that article also. My reference to the 10 to 20 years was to point out that the proliferation of ‘no-go zones’ within the U.S. will skyrocket as the population of Muslins increases. What you have refereed to is, IMO, only the beginning of what is coming to America, on an ever-increasing scale, if the Citizens of this country do not make a stand on our own homeland.- NOW Hillary and Democrats are encouraging our demise as a people and a country – vote Trump – 2016 = the last opportunity to save America

          • Amos Moses

            –A radical mosque known for breeding terrorists has been granted special privileges by Bloomington, Minnesota, which allows its members to take over a public park and treat it as their own to the exclusion of other residents

          • axelbeingcivil

            I looked into this story and it is frustratingly difficult to find information. From what I can piece together, the Dar al Farooq youth center (it’s not a mosque) in Bloomington applied for permits from the city council to acquire a joint use agreement for the park to which it is adjacent. Since that time, there have been accusations that Dar al Farooq has used the site excessively and violated the terms of its agreement.

            Where I have trouble here is that there’s conflicting accounts of just what they’ve done. I’ve seen fliers handed out at a town meeting by a group claiming that Dar al Farooq routinely overfilled the park at certain events, but then this same group’s speaker noted that this was not the case but rather Dar al Farooq simply received clearance for more people as a part of its joint use agreement. Dar al Farooq also has a conditional use permit, though I am not sure if this was acquired by them or acquired as a result of acquiring the property; CUPs are transferred as long as they aren’t allowed to expire from a year of inactivity.

            Other groups in the area do not, to my knowledge, have such permits nor have they negotiated joint use agreements, but I do not know if that is for lack of trying or the city council simply denying it. If one of the churches in the region were to apply and be denied such an application for no good reason, that would be absolute grounds for a lawsuit.

            There are certain allegations that absolutely can, should, and must be investigated, like the lack of proper insurance checking, but violations of the law aren’t evidence of favouritism; it would need to be shown that other groups were treated differently.

            After looking through this, there’s one allegation here that seems relevant to that, and only one, but it’s a doozy: That the town council limited Resurrection Power Church’s own attempts to acquire a CUP; granting it, but limiting occupancy out of fear of having similar extreme traffic flow as had subsequently occurred at Dar al Farooq events. Mount Hope Church was similarly scrutinized, though I do not see any details about them being denied or limited.

            If these accusations are true, these are very much the basis for either redress or, if redress fails, a lawsuit. This, of course, probably isn’t easy – the JUA took months of negotiation and is dozens of pages long – but it should definitely be attempted.

            If the town council fails to offer sufficient redress and shows consistent favouritism, this group should contact the ACLU.

          • Jeanine Schaefer

            Christians don’t prevent other religious groups from delivering ivocations, unless it’s actually satanic. Actual Satanists would not be interested, anyway. The after school Satan clubs aren’t actually Satanists. They are Atheists that are using the name of Satan to poke fun at other religions.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Why do you think someone has to believe in a literal supernatural being to not use an idea as inspiration for a spiritual philosophy? Ever since Milton had Paradise Lost penned to paper, Satan has been a figure of honesty with one’s self, refusal to bend in the face of power, and an unbreakable, invincible will. Satanists may not believe in a literal supernatural being, but they certainly take inspiration from the cultural example of a rebel who resists. Plenty of Buddhists also believe in no gods, and many do not even believe in the supernatural; seeing their religion merely as a guide on how to live their life. No-one suggests they’re not authentic Buddhists.

            Second, what gives you the right to interrupt someone else’s invocation? They have as much of a right as you do before the law. If you try to take theirs, what grounds do you have to say that you deserve yours?

          • Jeanine Schaefer

            I did not say they were going to interrupt Satanists invocations at public meetings. In fact, I said that I thought no real Satanists would be interested in doing those, as it didnt seem to fit the philosophy. I did say a Christian may feel like they would want to prevent a Satanists invocation. I am not saying this out of malice, but out of reality. This does NOT follow the constitution of free speech, which I follow. I follow God of the Bible first. But I respect ALL people’s right to free speech. They is why freedom OF religion is so important. Without it, EVERY religion and philosophy gets silenced but Atheism. With it, they ALL flourish, even though they don’t agree on everything, but at least they CAN speak.

            I have a lot more respect for Satanists than Atheists, tbh. Its a lot more honest in its philosophy.

          • axelbeingcivil

            Atheism is a philosophy in the sense that bald is a hair colour. There are atheist philosophies out there, but atheism is simply a stance of not believing in any gods; it has no further attendant stances.

            Also, the guy who wanted to deliver this invocation was a Satanist. Atheist or not, the guy was a Satanist. You don’t have to believe in a literal Satan to hold it as a symbol of certain ideals.

            As for freedom of religion, I certainly agree; it’s necessary to ensure anyone is allowed to believe whatever they wish. Without it, we may all be censored. Historically, though, societies without religious freedom have been so because they endorsed a singular religion, not because they wanted none. This isn’t to say anti-religious states haven’t happened too, but don’t pretend that absence of religious freedom hasn’t been used by every group at some point or another as a club to beat those they disagree with.

          • Jeanine Schaefer

            Bald is where hair USED to be, hair STILL exists, it’s not like it never existed, or might not ever exist again. It would be ridiculous for a bald man to say he had a philosophy of hair not existing, or did not have a belief that hair had never existed.

            I did not mention ANY invocation in particular. Just that in general, most real Satanists wouldn’t be interested. If the guy you are referring to is ALSO an Atheist, that would make sense.

            Then there are, of course, agnostics, which seem to at least be the most intellectually honest of the unbelieving.

            Please tell me more about the event that this invocation happened! I am actually quite interested.

            China is an Atheist country. They jail Christians for even trying to use their home as a church, or even having a Bible. They have to worship In secret. In The Netherlands recently, the government forcibly removed an entire families children, because they homeschooled them with Christian values. The neighbor reported them and it was cited as abuse! All the kids were perfectly clean and healthy. They just don’t allow Christianity.

            I am not pretending ANYTHING about absense of religious freedom. I am completely FOR religious freedom. I am AGAINST the removal of our freedoms! That’s why we need to keep freedom OF religion in this country, it works for ALL.

          • axelbeingcivil

            You’re getting too deep into the analogy. Atheism is a null claim. There’s no philosophy attached to that null claim; nothing about being an atheist that requires you to do or believe anything. Other philosophies may require atheism but atheism doesn’t require other philosophies, y’know?

            Likewise, agnosticism isn’t a pure stance; it’s a qualifier. To be agnostic is to admit you lack knowledge, while to be gnostic is to claim you possess knowledge. You can be an agnostic atheist, a gnostic atheist, an agnostic theist, or a gnostic theist. If you claim you see insufficient evidence for any gods to believe in them but do not claim positively that they do not exist, you are an agnostic atheist. That’s my personal stance, incidentally.

            As for the Satanist invocation, look at Pensacola, Florida, for more information.

            Finally, if you have more info on that Netherlands thing, I’d be interested to hear it.

          • Jeanine Schaefer

            I looked up that invocation in Florida. That is AWFUL. That is not the norm and I DO NOT support that kind of action. That is NOT freedom of religion for all OR free speech. This is NOT what most Christians do, yet there ARE extemists in EVERY group that make us shake our heads and try to stop it from happening again. I so sorry that happened, makes me angry. Their behavior does not help anything!

          • axelbeingcivil

            If those are your feelings, then we certainly have a great deal in common.

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/fakethoughtsandprayers/ Chip01

    Why not make the lunch not tied to the public school…?
    A Saturday, say.

    • axelbeingcivil

      This is a really sensible suggestion. That way, the school’s ability to affect the outcomes is limited.

      • https://disqus.com/home/channel/fakethoughtsandprayers/ Chip01

        Heck.. It’s almost like we’ve agreed to a separation of the church n state.

        • Jeanine Schaefer

          Seperation of church and state was originally to protect the church from the government. It is not found in the constitution, but was found in one letter. I still think it’s a good idea, but people keep misunderstanding what it is.

          It is to keep the government from FORCING each person to become one religion or NO religion, but basically becoming a theocracy. They are not to show preference to ONLY one religion but that does NOT mean that those in government CANNOT mention a religion, take part in prayer, or do anything religious. However, if they do, they MUST make whatever religious thing they did available to other religions to do as well, if none take advantage of the opportunity, no offence or preference has been made…..even if the same religion ends up doing it more than often than others.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    US children need to know Jesus to get saved and have a full life. The Western culture has only destructive immorality as a core value, apart from Christianity. Christianity has been the conscience of the Western civilization and the only light to all pagan worlds on Planet Earth.

  • axelbeingcivil

    A possible solution: If the park space really is public park space, why not transfer ownership of it to the city and make it into a proper public park? That way, anyone can use it for any purpose. Ostensibly, the school doesn’t use it that often if they’re able to let people wander it freely.

    • Opetke

      It is already a public park. The school simply has a general use lease that does not infringe on other people using the park. It just means that the students are covered by their insurance and considered to still be on school property (allowing the school to discipline the students for any activity in violation of school rules). But the park is still open to the public.

      • axelbeingcivil

        I was under the impression that the park was school property and allowed to be used by the public?

        • Opetke

          I guess we can’t know for certain unless we looked at the lease agreement, but it is my understanding that the city owns the park, and the school has the lease agreement. From what I’ve read in this article and others, the nature of the lease agreement (whether it makes public land private) is what is in question at court.

          • axelbeingcivil

            It’s a fair question. It’d be great if the documents were released.

  • awareoftruth

    The FFRF (AKA: the Anti-Christ Movement) does not understand the issue of Sharia Law that is rapidly creeping into America. Only Jesus could stand against the evil that comes from the east. We know it’s important to pray for this lunch crowd, and each other. But, don’t forget to pray for the many sheep that have wandered or were lead astray. Through the spirit of the antichrist, religion and misinformed views of the Bible have corrupted, hurt and blinded billions. Spiritual warfare is reaching a boiling point around the world. Humans and nature are becoming more volatile every second of the day. According to the above article, the kids lunch grew from 40 to 400. This shows the divine love of the Father. Above everything else, each soul is craving the light it’s found. We know nothing can grow without light. – well except, mold and certain types of bacteria (mostly). God is shaking all of us saying, “wake-up, I’m coming back soon.”

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/fakethoughtsandprayers/ Chip01

    It’s from Breitbart..what fool would believe Breitbart is telling the truth during the credits… .?

  • ElsaDominga

    Don’t cave. No one has the right to infringe on this gathering. There is no malice and the school is not endorsing this so is no reason to complain. Children have the right to leave the school for lunch and if they choose to gather in fellowship then so be. There is no noise pollution or coercion nor any incitement for violence, hate or discrimination so it sounds like a very nice way to break up the day. It has grown to a very nice number of people and I think that is the reason some are being so mean and nasty about it. They see how many are enjoying this very legal and very respectable gathering and it causes their vicious and spiteful minds to become enraged and hateful. Tsk tsk on them. Enjoy your lunch in fellowship and do not cave. You have the right to gather and freely assemble in public place.

    • Jalapeno

      Did you even read the article?

      The students leaving the school isn’t the problem..the district rules on who can use the property is.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Atheists will back down. They are cowards when confronted by facts and people.

  • Robert

    Interesting article .. hope they can figure a way to keep the Jesus Lunch going.. using the pavilion ..