Earlier this year, we learned that the School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, Minnesota had sent children on a field to a local Christian church (Calvary Lutheran Church) in order to package food for the hungry for a separate Christian non-profit group (Feed My Starving Children). Both the church and the non-profit were interested in spreading the Gospel.
According to a letter from the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center:
… we fully understand that at least one purpose of this field trip was to have the children participate in charity work intended to assist poverty-stricken people. Such good intentions, however, can be pursued in innumerable other ways that do not involve immersing the unsuspecting children into a theologically-charged environment. We are not opposed to educating children about poverty around the world, nor do we object to their participating in a nonreligious program to provide assistance.
Here, however, both the church and the Christian charity involved have an interest in propagating a specific religious message that is contrary to the views of many of the students and their families. The school has no right to select one Christian church and one Christian charity as a landing ground for public school students, just as it would have no right to direct students to a mosque, a temple, or an atheist group for similar purposes. Indeed, the religious mission underlying the charity work in question was out in the open in this situation, but your school embraced the event anyway. The packages involved were called “manna” packages, after the edible substance that, according to the Bible, God provided for the Israelites; and the venue involved included extensive religious imagery and symbolism.
Yesterday, the AHA reported that the school had *finally* agreed to work with a secular charity:
Officials at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center have been contacted by a reporter with the Sun Post, who informed them that the school will be supporting a different charity this year.
Well, it took a while, but the school finally did the right thing — without compromising their ultimate goal of helping those less fortunate. It’s a win-win for both sides.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)