By Aaron Ziebarth
“I didn’t know you could teach public school children about Jesus.” I hear this often when I share that we are teaching God’s word to over 3,000 public school children. The reality is, there is much confusion about the laws, and there is a great deal of false information that has been shared by those who want to separate church and state.
Two principles guide our ministry. First, we are excited about reaching as many children as possible. Secondly, we want to honor God through a full understanding of our nation’s laws regarding Released Time and promotion thereof.
Since there has been so much confusion and false information, we asked Matt Sharp, legal counsel from the Alliance for Defending freedom to come and share with our volunteers at our fall workshops. It was very insightful to have him share. I believe that having a greater understanding of these truths will help us to reach more children with the gospel.
A future blog will highlight his teachings, take a few moments now to see how our staff were encouraged:
One thing that Matt Sharp shared that stuck was the equal access. I talked with volunteers who were ready to move forward because they know their school allows others to pass our literature and now they will be able to as well.
The thing that encouraged me the most about what he had to say was how he showed the history of Bible education within the schools and shared that we shouldn’t allow school staff to make us feel like we are odd or somehow out of touch with things because we want to move forward with biblical instruction. Biblical instruction was honestly what our educational system was built on and those trying to stamp it out are out of touch with our founding values as a country.
Clarifying student’s rights to speak, meet and equal treatment, helping volunteers to understand better what they can do because of equal access laws and clarification on schools that clamp down on students/volunteers sharing forms and the fact that the public sidewalk is a place to share forms also.
We can talk about making sure we are doing everything to safeguard our program, but I think some volunteers think it doesn’t apply to them. This really caught people’s attention and made them think about whether their program was Teflon coated or not.
Volunteers can hand out RT brochures on the sidewalks at the school and students can hand out brochures in the school as long as it does not disrupt the learning process.
I spoke with one new volunteer for over ½ an hour about Matt’s session. She was very excited about the rights that the students have to share at lunch, recess, and in the halls about their faith (as well as in papers). She is a retired English teacher and was very motivated by the session to share with others our rights.
I was surprised are encouraged when he concluded with telling us we, RT volunteers, are on the front lines for the battle to uphold our religious rights for the next generation. Pretty amazing coming from an attorney who just helped fight a battle that was all over the news.
To learn more about students’ freedoms, click here speakupmovement.org. To learn more about volunteering or signing up a student for Released Time, please click here http://joyelgeneration.org/released-time.