Episode 47: Fake School Assemblies and Banning Guns
Religious conservatives are performing school assemblies and funneling kids to church all at taxpayer expense and earlier this month the SHoWLE Board voted to ban weapons at meetings. Doug explains why.
00:45 Fake School Assemblies
16:14 SHoWLE bans guns at meetings
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[00:00:00] Voice Over: This is glass city humanist. A show about humanism humanist values by a humanist. Here is your host Douglas berger.
[00:00:11] Douglas Berger: Religious conservatives are performing school assemblies and funneling kids to church. All at taxpayer expense. And earlier this month, the surely board voted to ban weapons at meetings. I explain why
[00:00:25] Voice Over: glass city humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanist of Western lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.
[00:00:45] Douglas Berger: For those of us who attended school during. younger years. Remember the best part of any school day was either there’s gonna be a film during class, or, and I’m dating myself a film strip during class, or they would roll in the TV for a video tape or, or whatever. I know they’d probably do streaming now, but that was, you know, they’d roll in the, the audio visual cart with the TV.
And you’re like, yes, we’re not gonna have to. The second greatest thing about school sometimes was the school assembly. That’s when they would have all the kids come into the either the auditorium or the C auditorium or the gym, and they would. Sit and listen to a speaker or maybe see a presentation.
I know some comedy shows have pared the school assembly. Like they’d have like some kind of singing people making crude comments or something like that. But you know, a lot of these school assemblies are it. It’s what, how you. do presentations about certain things like character building or don’t bully kids, or, you know, just say no to drugs.
That’s that was a big one back back in my day, too. Anyway, so you have these school assemblies and it’s, it’s kind of big business these groups and people, for the most part, they charge money to come in and speak to a school. And so it comes out of the school budget. It’s taxpayer money. Well, the religious conservatives in this country have latched onto this as a revenue stream, I guess.
And it’s also, they can use it to indoctrinate children and, and try to get them to come to church. And so you might be saying, Doug, how, how does that happen? There’s a, a this is how they do it is they get around the church and state separation is they offer a school assembly on a, should be a non-controversial issue.
Let’s say character building and they come to the school or, or somebody tells the school about it and the school inquires. And they said, you know, we can bring this certain speaker to your school. It’s gonna cost a certain amount of money, but you know, maybe somebody donates money to have it done or whatever it’s gonna cost money.
We’ll come in. We’ll give you a presentation. The school is like great. Cuz then we don’t have to do something on, on our own. So the speaker comes in. They’re a motivational speaker. They give a great program, get to co kids all jazzed up about whatever topic it is, whether it’s anti-bullying or character building or whatever.
And then the speaker says, Hey, by the way, if you’d like more of this great assembly experience, why don’t you come to St. Mark’s Lutheran church tonight at 7:00 PM. Or come back to the gym tonight after school at 7:00 PM for more of this, for a concert or another extension of the assembly. And so that’s how they get around because this, this outside.
Extension to the school assembly is a religious service. It’s a they give testimony, they invite kids to a church. They talk about God in Jesus and because it’s outside the school time, it’s perfectly legal. It’s UN I think it’s unethical because a lot of times these school assemblies during the day, these supposed secular school assemblies during the day are mandatory.
and so you have these impressionable kids and they get, they get motivated by this speaker. And the speaker says, come on, you want to keep feeling this, come on tonight. And they come out tonight and they’re vulnerable and they get exposed to religious teachings or testimonies or prayer or whatever. And.
That’s how this that’s, how that system works. And, and so you have to be very careful what, what motivational speaker you deal with or what company cuz a lot of these are company, not companies, but not for profit. They’re not pro non-profit companies that have a, a network of speakers. We had something that happened like that.
Just a coup last week, a week or two ago up in Bedford, Michigan, which is a suburb of Toledo and they had this group come in and it was called carry the cure. and it builds itself as a nonprofit organization that utilizes clinical tools, cultural traditions, and faith-based methods to offer communities comprehensive suicide and abuse prevention, and healthy lifestyle skills.
The problem is that carry the cure leans more on the face based methods rather than clinical tools. They don’t use any science. They don’t offer any science. Anything like that, but, but they do use a native American motif. The, the person that does the speaking part is native Alaskan, and that’s where this group care, the cure got started.
And so they, they. Disguise their, their attempt at religious indoctrination in, in something that definitely is not controversial and that suicide prevention and abuse prevention, you know, there’s, nobody would be opposed to having a presentation about that. And so they had this in Bedford week or two ago.
They required students to attend. They had two, two assemblies on one day at, at like 12 o’clock and the other day at 1 45. And then that night on, on the second day, they were going to have a program, an extension of this assembly at seven o’clock at night. And that was sponsored by a local church, but they were gonna have it at the school, which again, is perfectly legal.
For a religious group to rent out a school room after school and invite, you know, what, what I have a problem with and what a lot of people have a problem with is the fact that the, these speakers are coming into the school and we’re paying taxpayer money to pay them, to give these presentations and invite our kids to church.
you know, and that’s just unethical. It’s, you know, it’s legal, but it’s unethical because they should be upfront about it. That this is good. You know, we’re a religious group and we’re doing this to prevent whatever it is, suicide do, suicide prevention, you know, just make it, make it more, make it more transparent.
And also don’t require students to. or at least send a note home before the event to notify parents. So the parents can opt out like beforehand without, without, you know, I, I think it shouldn’t be an opt out. It should be an opt in that a note should go home and then say, you know, if you want your kid to attend sign here, So at least then the parents know what’s going on.
Cuz you know, you see in the news, all these right wingers and, and religious conservatives going nuts over their children being indoctrinated in socialism. But it seems to be okay to indoctrinate them in Christianity, which is the real thing that’s happening when these groups come in and the fact that they’re spending taxpayer dollars to pay for these people.
We have a group here in Ohio called stand for truth ministries who do the same exact thing. In fact, they have three separate companies and they make no bones about what they’re attempting. They have relevant speakers. That’s the, the secular quote, unquote secular part of the school assemblies.
Then they have stand for truth ministries, which does the outside of school hour indoctrination part. And then the third part they have is they’re the ones that develop the life, the Lifewise academies. And I talked in a previous episode about these, these people going in, it’s a release.
Religious education. This is Bible Bible study that kids go to off campus during the school day. And so this, this company that has the Stanford truth ministries is nonprofit in Ohio and they have relevant speakers, the ministry, and then they have the release time educat. Now, just so we’re clear here.
This Stanford truth ministry is run by J gentleman named Joel Penton. And in his bio, he says that he was on the Ohio state university football team. And the early S was on the team when they won the national championship in 2000 and, and three. in which he was, and he won the Danny Wark trophy for humanitarianism, which is true.
But he didn’t start for the Ohio state Buckeyes. He was, he, he was a in, on the bench most of the time, which I’m not taking anything away from him, but he started this stand for truth ministry to be a motivational speaker for kids and the stand for truth ministries also had another company called student impact, which also was the same thing.
And, and because they’re a nonprofit commercial operation, they had to file. What’s called a nine 90 tax return. And I looked at it for 2019 and. Joel Penton was the only one that was listed as receiving any funds, any revenue for this company. And for 19, for 2019, he got over $300,000 close to $350,000 in speaking fees in, in 2019, that’s taxpayer money and that’s going into his.
So schools are paying these speakers some large sums of money total, you know, I don’t know how many speaking engagements he actually did in 2019, but I’m sure he’s making probably several, several hundred dollars, several thousand dollars at least per speaking, you know, for each speaking event. But in 2019 he made almost $350,000.
Just from speaking fees and, and again, that’s taxpayer money that’s going because that money is going to the ministry. It was reported on their nine 90. So that’s supporting a religious education or religious indoctrination of children. So. So, yeah, Joel Penton, he, he runs that. He’s a, you know, he’s a decent guy.
I haven’t heard any bad things about him. He’s not in the news negative for any negative things. And what he’s doing is a good thing, you know? think on the website one of his topics was making good choices. You know, I don’t have a problem with that. Yes, we should try to help kids make good choices.
But again, it’s the after school stuff that I have a problem with, and that is they are using the school day being paid for a mandatory school assembly to invite kids to a church service. And I think that. Parents and people who are concerned about that, about how unethical that process is either need to demand more transparency in, in school assembly programming, or they need to stop using obvious religious faith-based groups to do these assemblies.
Because none of this stuff, suicide prevention, abuse prevention, making good choices, character building, none of those topics are exclusive to religion. You can find secular non-religious groups to put, put on those school assemblies. I know they’re out there. And they can, and that can be done. And we need to start doing that because look how that led right to the release time education.
And, and like I said, on their website on Stanford truth ministries, they make it clear that that is their goal is to, to butter. ’em up during the secular. School assembly, invite them to the church service at night and then get them with the release time religious education. Which is strictly Christianity.
And so that is just, we just need more transparency and stop spending taxpayer money to support religious groups.
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[00:16:14] Douglas Berger: this month of September is the end of our fiscal year here at the secular humanist of Western lake Erie. And we get started with. Some initial planning. We have our board elections coming up in O October. So if you’re a member and you’re interested in being on the board you know, send us a note, let us know on the website, there’s an interest form that’s available.
Just let, let me know. Or. Or what have you anyway. So, you know, we’re a democratically run group and we have a board of directors. And so we, the board of directors and I’m on it. I’m the president, obviously we do the day to day operations of the group. And, and one of the important functions of a board of directors is to set policies.
and how we’re going to conduct business, how we’re going to have our meetings. You know what we’re gonna spend money on. We do that on behalf of the membership because you know, trying to get everybody in the same room to decide how to spend money or how to program the group would be a, would be tedious.
And so that’s how a democratic group works is is you elect other members to act on your. One of the things you know, we’re in, in a city we’re based in Toledo, Ohio, and like many cities Toledo size and larger they’re having problems with gun violence. And it’s not just, and it’s not just random shootings.
It’s not like active shooters. You know, we’ve, there’s been a lot of those, but, but the everyday gun violence is not active shooter, lone wolfs, random shootings, a lot of these, a lot of these. Shootings that are going on in the different cities are either gang related drug related or domestic violence.
We’ve had several where families were getting together and an argument breaks out and, and uncle Ernie breaks out his gun and shoots people because he’s pissed off. you know, and, and a majority, a majority early in the year, a majority of the homicides due to gun violence was domestic. It was, you know, boyfriends or husbands killing their wives or, or for the most part.
That’s what it was. Okay. And so one of the things that’s been going on is that religious conservatives and religious conservatives in, in political power. have, have a gun fetish. They, they start believing those old movies where the gun fighters walking down the street, packing heat. and he takes out the bad guy, but that that’s a common myth that there’s a, a, a good guy with a gun taking out a bad guy that wants to do harm.
You know, it’s, it’s about power people, you know, men in particular think that they’re more manly if they’re carrying a gun, that’s why, you know, you have the problem where you see people, you know, with AR fifteens, walking into a grocery. you know, when, when the gun violence comes up because they think they’re that they’re being macho.
You know, that’s the thing it’s about being macho and a power trip has nothing to do with protecting the community. Because a lot of these guys, it’s easy to get these guns, you know, you just fill out a form and unless you’re a convicted felon, you you’re practically going. They’re practically gonna give it to.
you know, they’ve reduced the amount of time you have to wait, you don’t have to have any training, you know? And so the worst kind of person with a gun is somebody that doesn’t have any training. You know, it look at what happens with the law enforcement. and, and some of the bad outcomes from law enforcement being trigger happy in, in some of these situations where unarmed people are being shot many, many times and being killed for traffic stops or, or carrying loose cigarettes or, or you.
Walking home from the store and these, and a lot of these cases, these are law enforcement officers who are supposedly trained on how to use their weapons. Now imagine Joe Schmo down the street, you know, he, he saves up his money and buys an AR 15 and he thinks he’s, you know, cock of the walk. Those are the people that we sh that I’m afraid of.
I’m not afraid afraid of, of a hunter who goes and hunts deer or every year or a swarm police officer. Well, I’m kind of nervous with a sworn police officer, cuz you never know, but the people that really. That really bother me are, are, you know Chad and Jack sch snow you know, Schmo down the street who, who got a new gun and think it’s a toy.
So. You know, a lot of PE, a lot of members in the group ha you know, we’ve been talking about the gun violence and what to do, and, and we’re concerned that there’s been a lot of talk and not a lot of action. You know, we know what will solve a lot of these gun, these, this gun violence, and that’s banning guns completely, you know, barring that, you know, severely regulating am.
you know, unless you are hunting for food, you do not need an AR 15 at your house. I’m sorry. You do not. And even hunting for food, you really don’t need an AR 15. You’re not gonna go deer hunting with a machine gun or a semi-automatic gun rifle. You know, that’s just ridiculous. And so one of the thing, you know, we were trying to think of what, what we wanted to do.
And one of the suggestions was that we would ban guns at our meetings or weapons. We would ban weapons at our meetings and events that we host, whether or not the venue that we hold these events and meetings at allows guns or. and that’s what we decided to do. The, the board on the, on the 20th voted to Institute a weapons ban for our meetings and events.
The resolution reads in part, we wish to provide a safe space where for a short time, people don’t have to worry about being shot or killed by a deadly. Even if the venue where we hold our meetings and events allows weapons surely will enforce a ban on weapons. We will also try not to use any venue for meetings or events that we know allow weapons.
People who believe their right to carry a gun. Outweighs the safety of our community are not welcome at our meeting meetings or events. And the weapons ban fits in with our humanist values. The band aligns with our values of peace and social justice, empathy and service and participation. You know, like I said, we’ve been concerned for some time about the inaction of the Ohio legislature to address gun violence and how some political leaders, wild west ideas of the rugged individuals strutting down the street packing.
it’s outdated. And the inaction is terrible on a daily basis for many families in our community. And we felt we needed to do something. And the band is what we decided. And yes, we know that will not solve the gun violence in the city of Toledo. We know that, but we want to be a beacon in the sea of violence, and we just want people to show.
Every group, we, we want every group to do this. We want every nonprofit group club social group to do this. They to make a, a concerted effort to ban guns at their meetings and events. Our press release that we put out for this also says that solely supports evidence based actions and policies that will address the tragic costs of unchecked gun violence.
And many of us do not feel that more sports for kids will address it. We also don’t feel that thoughts and prayers and more churches will address it. There has to be evidence based actions and policies to address it. The band takes effect immediately, and the only exceptions will be made for sworn law enforcement officers conducting official business.
So I am very happy that we did this and I know we’re gonna get some pushback. In fact, I, I heard from somebody in the aha, who was concerned that now we’re going to make our group of target for some nut job that wants to hurt atheists and agnostic and humanness. And, and I told them, frankly, that we’ve been a target.
We’ve always been a target for, for, for people that are looking to hurt us. And you know, we’re out in public all the time. We had a booth at the Toledo pride festival couple, few weeks back and. To be honest, it was open and in the public and with so many of these active shooter things that have happened over the last few years, I, I get nervous being out in public, just not even as a humanist or having a, a, a booth, but just being out there in public in large crowds.
And so we were setting up this booth and I was checking out routes that I could take. If I started hearing shooting, or somebody said there was a shooter. You know, there’s a target, a pride festival, you know, they even had there’s been at least one or two L G B T events that have been hit. There was that bar, the pulse nightclub in Florida that had a mass shooting now is L G B T.
You know, so here I am a humanist at L G B T. It was like target on target on. you know, but what are you gonna do? You can’t not live your life. You know, there’s just, I, I get nervous being in large crowds and that’s not gonna go away because these yahoos that don’t understand that not everybody should have a gun, not everybody needs a gun and we need to have better.
Policies and better ways of dealing with gun violence than just shrugging our shoulders and saying, what are you gonna do? So that is my call to action, to humanists and other organizations take an active stand and ban guns at your, at your meetings and, and events, you know, make a concerted effort to do it.
Put out a press release, put it on your website. and show people that you’re just not going to put up with it anymore and that something needs to be done.
[00:26:59] Voice Over: Thank you for listening for more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episodePage@glasscityhumanist.show glass city.
Humanist is an outreach of the secular humanists of Western lake Erie. SHoWLE can be reached at humanistwle.org Glass City Humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger. And he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is glass city jam. Composed using the ampify studio. See you next time.
Transcript is machine generated, lightly edited, and approximate to what was recorded. If you would like perfect transcripts, please donate to the show.
Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley
The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio
This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.