Education

Spiritual Warfare for Public Schools

Many of the charismatic preachers, particularly those involved in the New Apostolic Reformation, claim that they are in the midst of taking control of the Seven Mountains of society: arts and entertainment, business, the church, education, the family, government and the media, through a mix of political advocacy and spiritual warfare. As Kyle has noted, we have already seen large prayer rallies with “the purpose of swinging elections, ending abortion, fighting marriage equality, converting Muslims, and even launching a presidential campaign,” and there is even a brand new effort to take dominion over Hollywood.

Now, there is a new spiritual warfare effort targeting public schools to bring about the return of government-organized school prayer.

Many Republican politicians and right-wing activists regularly and quite falsely assert that prayer has been outlawed in schools. As K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee writes: “Students, too, are free to pray voluntarily at various times of the school day, absent school involvement or disruption to others. There is simply nothing constructive to be gained from official prayer that advances or harms a particular religion. On the contrary, such prayers threaten individual freedom of conscience and violate the First Amendment’s promise of religious liberty for all.”

With the help of Lou Engle of The Call, one Religious Right activist is set to lead a prayer rally in Sacramento, California, on March 31 to bring government organized prayer back to public schools.

Brian Barcelona said he started a group called “the Christian Club” in a California public school that grew to hundreds of members and that thanks to his club “teachers have been healed of incurable diseases” and “students no longer have to turn to the counselors for advice.” He calls for students of all faiths to come together under Christianity:

This is a movement that is not about a denomination or a church, but a DEMONSTRATION of the Kingdom of God. Signs, wonders, and miracles have broken out amongst students and teachers alike. Teachers have been healed of incurable diseases, and students no longer turn to the counselors for advice, but the Christian Club for prayer and support.

A movement that doesn’t care if a student is a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Atheist, or anything in between, all are invited to encounter the Love of Jesus and what He has to offer.

He goes on to say that a series of Supreme Court decisions have resulted “in the effective banning of prayer and Bible verse recitation in public schools” and dramatic increases in teen pregnancy, STDs, divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, violent crimes, abortion rate and a decline in SAT scores.

Of course, if this were true his “Christian Club” and thousands of other clubs in the U.S. would have been shut down. But it’s not and that’s why students are allowed to pray as they choose to, rather than have the government dictate and lead students in organized prayer.

As. Dr. W. Kenneth Williams of the Baptist Joint Committee points out, government-compelled prayer “violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and offends the consciences of those would not choose to participate in the prayers” due to their faith or lack of faith” and “many believers consider watered-downed, generic prayers to be deeply offensive.”

Most of all, Barcelona’s own example proves that students are not prevented from engaging in voluntary prayer, and surely he or others involved in his version of charismatic prayer may find vapid, government-written prayers offensive just as many students may not want to participate in a government-sponsored charismatic prayer.

Cindy Jacobs Warns of Satan's Grip in 'Ungodly' Education System

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs told participants of the Prophetic Marketplace Conference that the public education system has Satanic origins because John Dewey, who led the development of progressive education, was a signatory of the Humanist Manifesto. Jacobs said that God told her to “go look up the Humanist Manifesto” to learn about who is instructing the people of America and the entire world. “I began to study this and I began to see that there was something desperately wrong because since 1933 the educational systems of the world had been totally diluted, deceived, coopted and taken over by this ungodly system,” Jacobs explained. She concluded that Satan “founded humanism” in the Garden of Eden, which now, because of John Dewey, has taken over public education.

Watch:

Gates Foundation Raises Eyebrows with Grant to Right-Wing Lobbying Group

“We don’t want to be part of the controversy.” That’s what Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, told NPR when asked why the foundation’s work on reproductive health avoided support for abortion care. While this was a grave disappointment to global women’s health advocates, it wasn’t altogether surprising. Despite the Gates Foundation’s staggering wealth and influence and willingness to try new – sometimes controversial – approaches, it steadfastly steers clear of political fights.

That’s why a recent award of $376,635 to a right-wing lobbying group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is raising eyebrows, and more, in progressive and philanthropy circles. Knowingly or not, the Gates Foundation has just stepped on a political landmine.
ALEC is engaged in all of the fiercest political fights of our day – working hand-in-hand with companies seeking to roll back healthcare reform, environmental protections, workers’ rights, corporate accountability, and taxes on the wealthy. The Gates Foundation, which is “dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy and productive life,” should know that those aims are incompatible with ALEC’s efforts to undermine Americans’ health, safety, and economic security to benefit the bottom line of its corporate backers.
 
The stated purpose of the Gates Foundation grant to ALEC is “to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement.” On the face of it, this pales in comparison to ALEC’s other education work, which promotes large-scale voucher and privatization schemes that would destroy, not improve, the public education system.
 
Interestingly, Lee Fang recently reported in The Nation on the various ways that the Gates Foundation and ALEC are working – independently – to promote for-profit distance learning. These programs typically undermine public schools while benefiting technology and software companies, including Microsoft. The educational value of such programs is also highly contested.
 
But the bigger issue here is that the Gates Foundation – a grant-making behemoth – is legitimizing ALEC and all of its egregious lobbying by directly supporting a portion of the group’s work. One can only hope that the Gates Foundation staff responsible for the grant were narrowly focused on education policy and unaware of ALEC’s broader agenda. Either way, the foundation seems headed into the middle of a controversy, which is remarkable for an organization that took pains to avoid “the controversy” in the reproductive health arena.
 
For a primer on ALEC, see People For the American Way’s recent report:
When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder.

 

People For the American Way and African American Ministers in Action Support the DREAM Act (SJC)

People For the American Way and African American Ministers in Action believe that if students are able to complete their education and work legally, they will become a vital part of our society able to contribute to our economy and live their own American dream. We strongly support the DREAM Act.

Allowing Undocumented Youths to DREAM: Opening up Avenues to Education and Residency

The DREAM Act would open up avenues to education, residency, and potential citizenship for undocumented youths. If they are able to complete either education requirements or military service, and if they live and work in this country legally, there is greater potential for them to make vital contributions that help advance the American dream for them and for us all.

Young People for the American DREAM

Today, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow access to affordable postsecondary education, opportunities for military service and potentially a path to full citizenship to thousands of qualified young students striving for a better future.

African American Ministers Support the DREAM Act

Today, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow access to affordable postsecondary education, opportunities for military service and potentially a path to full citizenship to thousands of qualified young students striving for a better future.

Students Should Get Another Chance at the DREAM

Today, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow access to affordable postsecondary education, opportunities for military service and potentially a path to full citizenship to thousands of qualified young students striving for a better future.

David Barton’s Christian Nation: Sham ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

Who is David Barton? A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of the fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of David Barton, a fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

2011 Budget Deal Includes Costly, Ineffective and Constitutionally Troubling Voucher Program in DC

In the budget deal reached last week, the GOP used the threat of a devastating government shutdown to push a right-wing priority that has nothing to do with saving money or even with the 2011 budget: re-imposition of a five-year private school voucher program for the District of Columbia, beginning next year.

House Votes to Impose Costly, Ineffective and Constitutionally Troubling Voucher Program on DC

The House today voted to reimpose a costly school voucher program in the District of Columbia. The program, which stopped accepting new students in 2009, was found by the Department of Education to be ineffective at raising student achievement. Its reinstatement, which would cost federal taxpayers $100 million over five years, is opposed by DC’s elected leadership, including the city’s mayor and nonvoting delegate in Congress.  

People For the American Way Opposes DC Vouchers, H.R. 471

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we urge you to oppose H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which is scheduled for a floor vote this Wednesday. This bill would reauthorize the DC private school voucher program, the “temporary five-year pilot” program that has existed since 2003.

Promoting Public Education: Fighting Vouchers in Our Nation’s Capital

Eight years later, study after study has demonstrated that the DC vouchers have failed to achieve their purported goals. Nevertheless, conservatives in Congress are pushing to resurrect and expand this failed scheme. While there is no doubt that educational opportunities and standards must be improved across the country, allocating money to private schools at the expense of public school students is not the way to succeed. Public dollars must continue to fund public services.

People For the American Way Opposes DC Vouchers, S. 206

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we urge you to oppose S. 206, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which Senator Lieberman introduced last week. This bill would reauthorize the DC private school voucher program, the “temporary five-year pilot” program that has existed since 2003.

People For the American Way Opposes DC Vouchers, H.R. 471

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we urge you to oppose H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which Speaker Boehner introduced last week. This bill would reauthorize the DC private school voucher program, the “temporary five-year pilot” program that has existed since 2003.

YP4 Action Statement on Failure of the DREAM Act

In a 55 to 41 vote today, the Senate rejected an attempt to move forward on consideration of the DREAM Act, which would lay out a path to citizenship for young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and who graduate from high school with the commitment to attend college or join the military.

Rebecca Thompson, Director of YP4 Action, said:

African American Ministers in Action Reacts to Sinking of DREAM Act

In a 55 to 41 vote today, the Senate rejected an attempt to move forward on consideration of the DREAM Act, which would lay out a path to citizenship for young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and who graduate from high school with the commitment to attend college or join the military.

DREAM Act Falls Short in Senate

n a 55 to 41 vote today, the Senate rejected an attempt to move forward on consideration of the DREAM Act, which would lay out a path to citizenship for young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and who graduate from high school with the commitment to attend college or join the military.

YP4 Action Supports the DREAM Act

Until the DREAM Act is passed, the United States will continue to treat innocent young people like criminals, and will deny them a chance to go to school, serve in the military, and contribute to our economy. We’ll keep fighting until every young person in America gets a fair shot at success.
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