CLEVELAND, OH — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently took aim at an Ohio school district for allowing a Creation-based archery program to be taught in public schools, asserting that it promoted religion to students.
The ACLU recently sent a letter to the Lebanon City School District to warn of the “constitutional implications” that could arise from allowing the program His Pins be taught to youth in the district. His Pins is an outreach of Grace Chapel, in Mason, Ohio, which is just one of many chapters across the country. It has been in over 20 schools in the Cincinnati area, and has taught archery to over 10,000 children during their physical education classes.
His Pins has both a public school program and a club at its church, which are separate in their nature and presentation. While the church program contains devotions and other Biblical teaching following the class, the school program does not include Christian studies.
However, due to a recent newspaper article that asserted that the program provides religious instruction in schools, the ACLU soon obtained word of the matter and wrote a letter to the Lebanon City School District. It contended that His Pins was attempting to convert children to Christianity and provided warnings about allowing proselytization in the schools.
“It is the job of families to educate their children on spiritual values, not the government,” ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Drew Dennis stated in a recent news release about the matter. “If families want their children to learn about archery and biblical creationism at the same time, there are ample opportunities off school grounds. There is no need to create unnecessary constitutional problems by involving the public school system.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), led by United Church of Christ “minister” Barry Lynn, had even stronger words.
“These people are proselytizers and have to go,” the group wrote in a news release on Friday. “No public school should force its students to take classes with evangelical Christian clergy who are out to save souls. Such ‘teachers’ likely can’t be trusted not to preach, and inviting them into a school is simply asking for trouble.”
But Kevin Schweiger, director of His Pins at Grace Chapel, told Christian News Network that the matter is being blown out of proportion due to false assumptions published by the local newspaper.
“Although as a Christian, father of public school children, intelligent thinker and pastor, I strongly disagree with the ACLU’s and AU’s opinion, I can see where they would be inflamed by the article they saw,” he said. “Unfortunately, it was quite misleading and had a number of inaccuracies.”
“[T]he reporter confused what happens in the public school classroom with what happens at the church in the club sessions,” Schweiger continued. “Those kids who join the club at the church do so because they want to continue their archery skills and be a part of a club-like atmosphere–and also want to experience the life skills teaching provided by the church. At the classes held at the church, there is a short devotion at the end of each class.”
But he said that the public school program is different.
“This is not what happens at the school visits,” Schweiger outlined. “At those visits, the only mention of a religious nature is in our opening statement to effect of, ‘We believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and at some point after that, men developed the need to provide meat for food. Through this process, the bow and arrow came about.'”
He advised that the school district supports the program, which will continue despite opposition from the ACLU and AU.
“The superintendent in Lebanon City Schools has told me that he and his principals are very pleased with what we bring to them, appreciate our flexibility and service to the community, and have no plans to discontinue our relationship,” Schweiger said.