Clergy on Campus

I’ve had several inquiries in the past about clergy visiting HPISD campuses. But this week I’ve had 3, specifically about local church leaders visiting students at McCulloch for lunch.

The surprising thing about the inquiries this week is that the parents aren’t flipping out about the religion thing, they just wonder how, in 2010, this is even possible. Like these 3 parents, I have no issue with the visits- I even like it- but, well, I don’t even know why it’s shocking, it just is.

So I chatted with principal Laurie Norton and HPISD communications guru Helen Williams- here’s the scoop. Clergy are treated like regular visitors and are required to follow the HPISD written policies for visitors. In addition, they are asked to follow a list of VERBAL rules. And, of course, they get Raptor’d too.

What are the verbal rules? I knew you’d ask. *Note: List below probably isn’t complete and is totally in my own words.

  1. Can’t run around trying to convert kids or discuss pretty much anything dealing with religion.
  2. Can’t hand out printed materials. (They’ve booted someone for this before)
  3. Can’t ask for information from students or ask students to fill out forms etc.
  4. Can’t invite students to activities, events, church- Nothin’.
  5. Can only interact with students who are members of their congregation.

Thoughts?

23 thoughts on “Clergy on Campus

  • February 26, 2010 at 8:08 am
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    Sexting, sex, guns, alcohol, drugs, cheating, stealing, all these events are , eh. BUT THE FREAKIN’ CLERGY VISITING, WELL NOW, SHOCKING!

    (head shaking, palm on forehead, thinking of end of the world)

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  • February 26, 2010 at 8:23 am
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    Well, if these verbal rules are supposed to be followed then MIS/HPMS needs to put them in writing! As I was working in the supply room this week, I saw printed materials being handed out right in front of me. I believe it was an invitation to something. I’m almost sure they were only giving it to kids that attend their functions. The school needs to monitor this more closely.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 9:07 am
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    Eric is exactly right. We are PROTECTING the kids to such a degree that they are isolated from any meaningful adult interaction other than teachers/parents. Therefore, other 12 year olds raise our 12 year olds–a recipe for disaster. I think there ought to be more rules about I-touch, I-phones, whatever–they ought to be BANNED. Ban the electronic devices, not the people.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 9:29 am
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    Why should it be monitored more closely? We need to be secure enough in our faith that if another child’s rabbi, pastor, whatever stopped by at lunch to chat that everyone isn’t thrown into a spin. Shouldn’t we really be teaching tolerance of other’s beliefs? If you are providing a firm faith foundation at home, a visit from someone of a different faith should not concern you. These youth leaders are building relationships with these kids. Not a bad thing in today’s crazy world.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 10:10 am
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    I think it is great and it always gives me a good feeling when I see the church youth leaders from ANY religion visiting our school! The kids are excited to see and seek their attention. What is wrong with positive role models in the school? I think we should worry less about youth group leaders coming into the school and worry more about some of the kids that are attending our school …. some of the stories my kids tell me about fighting, a kid biting another so hard, broke the skin and required a tetnus shot, the boy who was arrested for pulling a weapon on U.P. police (and who had pot in his possession) being allowed back into class, the child arrested for making threats against other kids in the school, etc. These issues are a lot more worrisome than youth leaders visiting the school!

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  • February 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm
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    First and foremost, the school has an obligation to protect the kids that are in attendance. An unknown grownup soliciting kids to attend an event, religious or not, should not be tolerated. My kid received a verbal invitation to one of these events. I didn’t know the grownup (K-life affiliation, I believe), and it was right around the time charges against Pete from Kanakuk were announced. I found it rather creepy. If you are concerned about your kids having a relationship with a youth minister, develop that on your own terms outside of school hours. Also, given my Catholic background, if a minister wanted to have lunch with my kid, they better notify me first. If we are worried about role models in our schools and other 12 year olds raising our kids, perhaps we should look in the mirror and decide what kind of parent we want to be. Positive role models are all around you, you just have to open your eyes.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm
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    Nope. This is a public school, not a parochial school. They’ve got no business being there.

    But now that I know it’s okay to come in and chat up the students over lunch, I’m going to stop by to talk to them all about the raves I throw in empty Deep Ellum warehouses that start at 2:00am on Sunday nights. Won’t invite ’em, of course. Just talk. Adult to student. Sweet.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm
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    I’m with I’m with Really and vms and the Establishment Clause. Kids have enough peer pressure already without their school day creating the desire to go to XYZ Church so they’ll have lunch visitors like some other kids do.

    Speaking of what visitors are allowed at school, what’s the story behind SMU having the fruitcake businessman from UP arrested for trespass? Saw that in the DMN.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm
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    So any random priest that wants to hang out with kids can just go sign in and head to the cafeteria and mill around the children all he wants. ANY man that wants to, from any religious institution can just head to our schools lunch rooms and hang with our children. And talk to them, just them and our kids. Really. All y’all are fine with any adult, any time, any religion, any affiliation, going and sitting at your kids lunch table and chatting them up. Really? @G, I don’t trust you to choose “youth leaders” to go hang with my kids, keep your youth leaders at your church and away from my kids. SERIOUSLY – do not force your church leaders on our public school kids, that’s just ridiculous.

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  • February 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm
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    What about an Iman

    can they show up and hand out “presents” ..unattended?

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  • February 28, 2010 at 9:01 am
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    I love that my children are seeing positive adult role models on campus. I do not feel threatened when other organizations come on campus and visit. Why should I?

    What a great opportunity to discuss with your kids what you believe and why you believe it. Kids will always have people wanting them to do something or participate in some organization or activity.

    Enjoy your conversations – you might just learn something yourself.

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  • February 28, 2010 at 8:38 pm
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    I’m a little nervous about making a comment here because of the potential follow ups. I’m a youth pastor here in the Park Cities and my staff regularly have lunch on the different campuses to say hi and check up on students who come to our church. Our agenda is pretty simple. We just want the kids to know we care. I 100% support any and all checks of adults coming on campus (including us) to make sure that it is done in the right way. We’ve had several meetings in the last few years with the administration to make sure that all religious workers know that there are specific guidelines that they need to follow.

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  • March 1, 2010 at 8:32 am
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    Levelheaded, its not the discussion that bothers most of us. It’s about safety and where you draw the line. Yes, kids do want to participate in organizations and activities, but, if the Hare Krishnas showed up, I bet most parents would have a problem. We “raptor” everyone, but, I believe it is the school’s responsibility to limit access to the kids. If my kids want to have a discussion about religion and opposing views, bring it on. I have made sure that even the youngest of my kids has traveled the world and seen how others live and worship. That’s my responsibility as a parent. They certainly won’t see diversity in the Bubble.

    Lars, I am glad you care, but, from personal experience, I know everyone is not following the guidelines. I am sure the intention is honorable, but access to kids at school should be limited, regardless of the intent.

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  • March 1, 2010 at 8:43 am
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    Lunch time is for students. Period. Youth group leaders can meet with their flock before school, after school, and on the weekends. It is the kids’ one class period where they get to socialize and relax during the school day. If these youth group leaders want to spend time in the school, have them roll up their sleeves and serve lunch in the cafeteria or work a shift in the library. I wish the school would end this policy of clergy visitation at lunch. It’s just crossing the line.

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  • March 1, 2010 at 9:13 am
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    @Lars, I don’t question your intentions at all, but as a well-educated adult I am sure you know that public school is legally required to be religion-free. I would think they would teach you that in seminary – it’s a pretty fundamental and well-known concept. At any rate, there are other venues where you can say hi to your parishoners – their soccer games, at their homes, etc. without coming into the schools, where other families may be uncomfortable with it. Think about it from their perspective.

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  • March 1, 2010 at 11:08 am
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    According to Mr. Bohac, our school is an “open campus,” meaning we have to allow them access to the kids. Didn’t make sense to me when he explained it and still doesn’t.

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  • March 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm
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    @Lawyermam2 -“…as a well-educated adult I am sure you know that public school is legally required to be religion-free.”
    Yes as a well educated adult I know that the anti-establishment clause of the US Constitution was hijacked by the Left and misapplied by activist courts. Its a pretty fundamental and well-known concept.

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  • March 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm
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    I’m a student at HPMS and am just going to say that everyone loves it when the youth leaders come to visit at lunch. They are all so nice and kids look up to them. They aren’t trying to convert people, they are just visiting. I understand where some of the adults are coming from, but from a kids stand point I think it is fine.

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  • March 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm
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    Lawyermam2- The Establishment clause states that the government cannot establish a religion, as in a national “state” religion. In a school setting, it means a teacher (an employee of the state) cannot try to convert or influence a student toward a particular religion. It does not mean school campuses are religion-free. We enjoy freedom “of” religion here in America, not freedom “from” religion. You, of course, have the choice to be as free from religion as you want.

    The clergy visiting the school are not employees of the state, they are not trying to convert kids, and they have been screened; not just “random priests” milling around the campus, you should know better than that, Kmom. The visitors are screened and informed of campus policies.

    I think all this anger under the guise of “protecting our children” is really a cover for some bitter feelings toward organized religion.

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  • March 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    This moment in the history of the US is ironic indeed. When the framers of the U.S. Constitution were crafting our laws, schools frequently met in churches. Often, municipalities or citizens of a township paid rent to churches to be educated in their facilities!

    The “Establishment Clause” of the Constitution simply means the US Govt. is restricted from declaring or establishing a religion.

    Essentially, the law made it unlawful for Gov’t to inteferre w/ religion or religious movements.

    It’s crafted purpose was to create an environment where religion and pluralism could exist freely w/out a threat of Govt censoring, stepping in, or arresting people or killing people because they hold to a certain and especially different religious belief than the Govt or the masses of the people it represents.

    In the historical context, this constitutional law was a response to the frequent attempts of European Govts/empires to squeelch “un-official” or religious movements different from the Govt’s or Royal families. For example, many of the early founders/followers of the Methodist movement (even a popular religious expression of Park Cities people today), which began in England were killed or run off by British and Anglican officials and/or followers.

    Any judicial or municipal action beyond this is sustained at best through “judicial” law and goes way beyond the Constitutional intent of the Establishment Clause.

    We are living in a time where religious discussion is more important in our country than ever before. Americans need to re-learn to be courageous and bold. As I right this, I have people of various religions from all over the world telling me their beliefs in God. If anything, Americans and especially schools supported by American tax-payers should be training/educating their children on how to have meaningful dialogues with people of different faiths. We should be the world model on how to do pluralism well. I assure you, censorship is not the way or our hope!

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  • July 21, 2010 at 6:33 am
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    I don’t think religious leaders should be there, visiting kids in a public school, unless they are their own children. It’s allowed just because they are supposed ministers or whatever, but we wouldn’t allow any other strange adult to do it. I agree, it’s creepy. Keep them out and they can visit them every other place they want to.

    If these had not been Christian ministers, in this neighborhood, everyone would have been freaking. Can you imagine a rabbi walking around the middle school? 10 moms would call the police and they’d probably have him arrested. At Bradfield a couple years ago, the PPPC class made some sweet menorahs in December and some jerky mother complained and had them taken down. Meanwhile, there were Christian symbols up on the walls everywhere and my own daughter was playing a shephard or sheep or in her 4th grade re-creation of the Nativity. Completely wack!

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  • August 19, 2010 at 10:24 am
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    I’d like to see the atheist kids have atheist leaders visiting them at lunch. I can imagine the outcry they’d hear all the way to Oklahoma.

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