Today we sent a letter to school administrators in Biddeford reminding them that proselytizing in public schools is unconstitutional.
Earlier this week, we heard from a concerned parent who called the ACLU to report that students at Biddeford High and Middle Schools were brought to an assembly at which representatives of a group called Life Choices Presents proselytized students based on their own Christian values. That’s when we began to dig deeper – and came across this radio interview Pastor Debbie Phillips, founder of Life Choices and one of the presenters in Biddeford. When asked what she hoped students would take away from the presentation, Pastor Phillips had this to say:
Only heaven can heal us. . . I believe that the kingdom of God has a solution to everything, everything that we would need if we would mine the treasure that those of us who have this passion inside of us, this belief – that ‘tag, we’re it,’ we’re the only ones on the planet right now who can turn things around, who have the authority, because we are ambassadors of this incredible king, of this kingdom that will never pass away, as we see every kingdom on the planet shaking shaking shaking, we know we serve a king whose kingdom will never end. And he’s not a harsh king. Of all the things that I believe that God could be, because he is so powerful – he’s all powerful--he chooses to be kind and merciful to us, which is just humbling. So the motivation to serve him is great.
The Constitution guarantees that students have a basic right to pray voluntarily and express themselves religiously at school. But it also prohibits school-sponsored religion. Maine’s public schools should be focused on providing students with a quality education, not religious coercion. This sort of proselytizing has no place in Maine’s public schools, and we are hopeful other schools will keep that in mind when planning presentations.
In the meantime, we’ve asked Biddeford schools to apologize to the students and faculty, and to guarantee that Life Choices doesn’t make any repeat visits. We’ll keep you posted.