ACLU Targets “Creationist” Archery Program

Did you see this? Even if you read the same stuff I do, you may have missed it last month amongst all the holiday prep and the Obamacare/Healthcare.gov mess. It seems the anti-religionists at the ACLU have found another target for their “righteous” wrath: a church-run archery class.

youth firing arrow at targetThe controversy began when a reporter for a local newspaper wrote an article on a popular, extracurricular program called “His Pins”, which teaches history of archery and archery skills to youths in a safe, controlled environment. They also hold competitive tournaments. His Pins has been around for years, has many chapters across the country, and its instructors are certified by the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and by USA Archery. The local chapter in question is based out of Grace Chapel in Mason, OH, which provides use of the church’s gymnasium, and is directed by Associate Pastor Kevin Schwieger. Schwieger says it’s a great opportunity, especially for kids who may not do so well in team sports. They learn discipline and gain confidence.

The newspaper article apparently partially misrepresented the religious content of the program — whether intentionally or not, I don’t know. While the program does present at secular schools in the area as well as at churches, the article made it sound as if the public school kids were not just receiving religious instruction but specifically “creationist” teaching, as well. Naturally, when the local ACLU found out, they issued a warning to the Lebanon City School District against allowing such “proselytization” and of the “constitutional implications”. In essence, they were told the district risked legal action if they continued to allow His Pins to be taught to local youth at their schools.

In a news release, the Ohio ACLU said:

“It is the job of families to educate their children on spiritual values, not the government. If families want their children to learn about archery and biblical creationism at the same time, there are ample opportunities off school grounds. There is no need to create unnecessary constitutional problems by involving the public school system.”

Problem is, His Pins is not doing what it has been accused of doing. The presentations to children in public schools have modified content from those given in church-based clubs. As Schwieger explains it,

“[K]ids who join the club at the church do so because they want to continue their archery skills and be a part of a club-like atmosphere –- and also want to experience the life skills teaching provided by the church. At the classes held at the church, there is a short devotion at the end of each class. This is not what happens at the school visits. At those visits, the only mention of a religious nature is in our opening statement to effect of, ‘We believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and at some point after that, men developed the need to provide meat for food. Through this process, the bow and arrow came about.’”

OK, technically, that is “creationist”, but it’s extremely minimal and hardly amounts to indoctrination or proselytization. The ACLU is obviously aware of the misleading nature of the article, by now. But, as far as I can tell, it, with vociferous support from Barry Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), has not relented. Fortunately, according to Schwieger, the school district will not be bullied.

“The superintendent in Lebanon City Schools has told me that he and his principals are very pleased with what we bring to them, appreciate our flexibility and service to the community, and have no plans to discontinue our relationship.”

Like dogs with a bone, one has to assume that the ACLU and AU find it very difficult to voluntarily let go of anything hinting at violation of their holy “separation of church and state”. Even once the main premise for their involvement has been proven to be unsubstantiated, their mission to get all trace of religion — particularly Christianity — out of schools and out of the minds of schoolchildren drives them to do whatever they can. Despite what was said in the ACLU’s news release, they don’t seem to have any problem trying to control what conservative, religious families teach their children at home and in church, as well as helping to push a “progressive” agenda in school curricula.

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