Thursday, January 28, 2010

URGENT ALERT! -- Religious Extremism In NW PA Public Schools

Fishermen's Net, the Venango County-based extremist web site that promotes bigotry and discrimination under the guise of religion is touting upcoming events by the "Ground Zero Master's Commission" ... "an intense and passionate discipleship ministry for Young Adults (18-25) ... those that want to seek more of God in their life and make Him their only focus."

The Problem?

Several of "The Commission's" events are scheduled for area public school assemblies, including Rocky Grove High School (Feb. 8) and Cranberry High School (Feb. 10) !!

Specific information about this ministry and its efforts to deceptively infiltrate public schools with a message of "biblical morality" can be heard in an archived interview on WAWN FM's "Looking Through The Community Window" program.


Please, contact your public school district office immediately to find out how and why religious proselytizing is being conducted in your public schools!

Rocky Grove High School - Valley Grove School District
Superintendent - Jeffrey Clark
Phone: (814)432-4919
Email: jclark@vgsd.org

Cranberry High School - Cranberry Area School District
Superintendent - Nicholas Bodnar
Phone: 814-676-5628 x509
Email: nbodnar@cranberrysd.org

33 comments:

Dave Ghrist said...

WOW… are you way off base. If you would actually take a moment to get to know any of the students involved in this group, or any of the people involved in bringing this group into the area you would have to retract everything you’ve just said. I have worked with the youth of this area for a very long time. And it has pained me to see our youth fall to such things as depression, cutting, lack of self worth, seeking acceptance through drugs and overindulgence in alcohol and sex, and yes even the unthinkable suicide.

Yes this group Ground Zero Master’s Commission is a Christian group, and sponsored by other Christian groups to bring a message of hope to our youth, that there is more to life than pain and exclusion from their peers. If you had taken the time to review their school assemblies program you would see there is no apologetics what so ever in the school program. Why? Because they want to address the issues at hand, and challenge people to live a life worth living and not just through it away or give up. We need to respect each other, care for one another, love our neighbors, and yes that is a message that Christ himself proclaimed. Why? Because it was true 2000 years ago, and is still true today.

By the way the apologetics program that GZMC has will be performed on Saturday night, and is open to the community. No one is forced to attend to hear about Christianity. Unlike high school where they are forced to hear about choice of life, homosexuality, and other political rhetoric in school per state and federally funded programs because of some politically correct policies enacted by some minority group that currently has the popular vote in DC.

You demand that the world be tolerant of a specific sexual agenda but you yourself are so intolerant of those who do not support your life style it’s almost laughable when you consider that you are the pot calling the kettle black.

I have friends and coworkers who are gay and lesbian. I have grown up with people of all walks of life, we all bleed the same. We all need the same things in life, to be accepted and loved. And it really angers me as someone who has even gone to war to defend the American values, which are Christian based by the way, for you to have the freedom to think and speak as you do. But brother when you go off on some lame duck goose chase and start shouting about bigotry… well maybe you should stop and get your facts straight before accusing every Christian based program of this. I’m not a fool, nor blind, I know there are those who have done atrocious things in the name of Christian beliefs; the same can be said of any religious group if you look hard enough, maybe you forgot 9/11 and the scenes on the news of Muslim people whooping it up during our countries greatest heartbreak.

I would ask you to consider this, no true follower of Christ hates you, and no true follower of Christ wants to see our young people suffer. We only want to show you and them that there is hope for those who want to seek it, and we want you to know this because our Lord and our God has challenged us to LOVE above all else.

I feel that you may never understand this, until you become tolerant of our way of life, and allow us to continue to simply Love each other as Christ has done for us, offering a message of hope.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Thanks for your comments Dave.

You help to make our point much more clearly, and alarmingly, than we ever could and affirm the urgency of our call.

Greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The school assemblies do not proselytize in any way. They merely cover topics that are affecting teens nowadays, such as bullying, drugs, and self-worth. Please make sure you have all the information before you jump to conclusions or form an opinion.

Anonymous said...

EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.

This principle taken from your website says every LGBT child has a right to education that is inclusive. Look up the definition to "inclusive" that means including everything within its scope; including the extremes as well as the area between.

You also say "free from bullying". Quit bullying those who think differently than you. Isn't that what you want?

Let's see if you practice your own principles.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave! If you wish not to attend stay home but I know many youth that do want to attend and they should be aloud too. The world doesn't revolve around you, there are other people in the community that wishes to do something good. They are trying to help kids that are having troubling times in their lives. Everyone can have their opinions but don't ruin it for everyone else! We love God and he has done amazing things! If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't be here. After all he created you!! Have a blessed day.

Michele Winger said...

TOLERANCE

It's a big word, isn't it? You want everyone to be tolerant of LGBT's and their lifestlye, but you refuse to be tolerant of anyone who's views are different than yours. How can you expect tolerance and respect if you refuse to give it?

From what I've read about the program, even the Saturday night religious part of the program is far from "Religious Extremism." A little perspective, please.

What are you so afraid of? I don't fear that some young L, G, B, or T is going to convert my child, why should you fear that a young Christian might convert yours? Perhaps it's a control issue for you, I don't know. Nobody is forcing you to attend this program...and even if you were forced, nobody's forcing you to change your beliefs to include those presented through this program.

Take a deep breath and relax...a little religion never hurt anybody, and helping our kids deal with current issues can only help your cause. Teaching young LGBT's to deal with bullying, peer pressure, and depression is a good thing....regardless of who's doing the teaching.

Rob Lazar said...

Hi Joe,

You seem to use the phrase "Religious Extremism" as an epithet or at least in a derogatory way. Do you consider the teachings of Jesus to be "Religious Extremism"?

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

As long as you continue to misuse religion or any other belief system to marginalize, demonize, stigmatize, criminalize and / or exclude gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or any other minority from full, free, open and equal participation in the life of our communities and country, your efforts will not go unchallenged.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for watching our community for bigotry and your efforts in keeping us sane. But I also have to ask were is the extremists movement? I don't mean to say that Master's has come across as purely innocent, they are by definition a radical movement. But I don't see the bigotry in what they have posted on the web or in the radio interview you have linked.

Dave Ghrist mentioned the rally that is open to the public I would be interested in seeing what you as a blogger have to say and what they as a group present. I would even be curious to see what you again as a blogger get if you talked to the event coordinators, I heard Rob and Ben on the radio interview and they seem firm in what they believe, but not ignorant or rude. maybe it would be worth while to talk to them as an interview for your blog? Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Rob Lazar said...

You didn't answer the question. I'm specifically interested in your opinion whether or not you believe the teachings of Jesus to be religious extremism.

ABEHE3EP said...

Let's discuss the 1st amendment in schools. It is a very fine line that public education must walk, especially here in Pennsylvania.

School are not to promote any religious belief or practice. This does not preclude them from allowing religious music in concerts, biblical teachings in religious literature curriculum, etc. Likewise, they are not permitted to preclude an individual's freedom of religion either (safety and other issues not withstanding).

In this case, the program presented by GZMC at public schools excludes any proselytizing or religious references. Based on my personal experience as school administrator, have sat through numerous legal presentations on 1st amendment rights in the schools and discussions with solicitors and other legal counsel, this group has as much right to present their assembly as a LGBT organization would have. Likewise, though, the LGBT presentation would have to walk the same 1st amendment fine line that GZMC is walking.

If you demand your rights, learn that they also apply to others. You seem to have tunnel vision for your issue and nothing else.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Simple solution, we will cease and desist, even apologize for misrepresentation, if you set the record straight.

State unequivocally that:
- LGBT people deserve the same rights and respect under the law as every other American and should be protected from discrimination
- you oppose all efforts to exclude LGBT people from full, free, open, and equal participation in society, including the anti-marriage equality amendment (SB 707) recently re-introduced in PA by state Sen. Eichelberger
- you oppose the efforts of WAWN/AFR, the AFA of PA and others who seek to misrepresent, "change," and exclude LGBT people from full, free, open and equal participation in society

As for the "Ground Zero Master's Commission" program scheduled to take place in area high school assemblies, simply record and air for all the world to see/hear what actually transpires, and we'll go from there.

Rob Lazar said...

Who are you talking to?

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Whoever may be listening

Rob Lazar said...

Are you going to answer my question?

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

No, this is not about personal religious, spiritual, or any other beliefs, but the misuse of religion to promote bigotry and discrimination against LGBT people.

Are you going to denounce that?

Rob Lazar said...

Fair enough. It's not personal. But if there's misuse of Jesus' teaching going on, there must a correct use. What is that?

Anonymous said...

ERROR 505: WARNING! This blog entry has been found to be laced with copious amounts of FAIL. It is advised you go back through your findings and open your mind to include the fact that not everyone in the world is against you and there is no need for a crusade against GZMC or any other group. /ERROR

Seamus (James) Scott said...

Maybe I don't understand this clearly, but how do you feel discriminated against?
You state

"- LGBT people deserve the same rights and respect under the law as every other American and should be protected from discrimination"

People are people we accept that now just because I choose not to live your life style or that by my beliefs i believe it to be sin. (In saying that I also understand that by my beliefs I am a sinner. Sin is sin that is an absolute of Christian faith it doesn't matter if it your life style choices or your a glutton etc. we all sin.)

I accept you for who you are and the choices that you have made, whatever they may be. So I don't see where the discrimination issue is. and please I am trying to understand and not fight over this.

As for your participation in society well the only issue that I see in that is the marriage issue. Marriage is a church issue, the term marriage in and of it self is a biblical reference found in the old testament that dates back thousands of years. The state should not mandate that churches must accept and allow marriage, we clearly have a in our constitution a separation of church and state.
Now if the state passes something that is not phrased as marriage then fine I have no problem with that. Marriage is a religious ideal and terming. I do agree that the state should recognize some form of union as well as the tax stuff and so on but I do not believe that it should be phrased as marriage.

Lastly Asking for those who support AFR, AFA, and WAWN. well thats bigotry these are organizations that protect the beliefs and structures of Christians. I cannot and will not ask you to withdraw your support from groups that protect what you believe. Because again that would be taking away from who you are. So please don't try to take away from who I am.

As a side note, youtube ground zero master's. they have a multitude of videos up from church rally's and I am sure that the school rallies will be recorded as well.

I do not wish to argue. but what makes you, you is who you are and I respect that. I still think you should check out the rally and talk with Rob and Ben, as well as any other event coordinators. I would be interested to see your views of such an event, and these people are because of all of the misconceptions that go around on both ends of this.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Thanks for your effort to engage thoughtfully Seamus (James) Scott ... it is greatly appreciated.

Discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently under the law. And, like it or not, separate from church, religious, or any other rituals of choice, marriage is a contractual relationship sanctioned by the state and GLBT people are now prohibited from marrying the individuals they/we choose and enjoying all the privileges and obligations involved.

As for the AFAofPA, WAWN, Fishermen's Net, etc., all that is required is a simple glance at their web sites to see numerous anti-GLBT references, from efforts to scare people about a so-called "homosexual agenda" to calls for laws that restrict GLBT rights ("marriage protection" amendments, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell), to opposition to laws that would protect GLBT people from discrimination (Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Hate Crimes Law) ...

seamus (james) scott said...

Hmm I understand the desire for a contracual agreement the equivilent of marriage but I fail to see why it should be called marriage. Reserching the word marriage I have found that it goes back to geneisis 29 as the earliest refrence. Researching a little of that book itself it is considered a holy book by suprisingly the top 3 religions of this world. Jews, christians, and islam all hold to this book as the singular story of creation and the roots of there beliefs. Logically I cannot say that the LGBT community has any right to demand that any kind of contracual union be called marriage. America was founded on freedom to be religious to be an LGBT, to be what you desired. To force religions to accept that terming which far dates any movements discussed would be infringing on there beliefs and rights. So how do we then determine that calling it marriage should be allowed because now we have taken history and freedom from one for another. I am not saying LGBT should not be allowed the freedom for a contracuaul union just that we cannot infringe on anyones rights in such a way.

And as for the Afa, Afr, and Wawn yes they may have some extreme information on there web sites. But so do many sites supporting Lgbt movements. I do not know which of these you may support or follow but I cannot reasonably ask that you withdraw support from them because they represent something that you so passionalty believe in. So with that it seems rather unreasonable to ask for people to withdraw from what they to believe in. I respect your beliefs and have made no request outside of reason I do not expect that I can change what you believe and supportthrough argument or demand.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Of course if this was just about words and what a particular legal institution is called, that's where the legislative efforts would be directed. Sadly, that is not the case.

As for "sites supporting LGBT movements," which positions, specifically, do you find objectionable? And how do they compare to efforts to erect legal barriers to full, equal and open participation in American life for LGBT people?

Rob Lazar said...

I want everyone to notice a few things...

First, you don't have to go past the first sentence in Joe's post to find an error in his thinking.

Second, think in terms of proper and improper discrimination. For example, Joe wants us to think that there is some improper discrimination going on when he says 2 men aren't allowed to marry each other. He makes it an emotional issue by saying, "GLBT people are now prohibited from marrying the individuals they/we choose and enjoying all the privileges and obligations involved".

Notice that all men are prohibited from marrying other men. There is no inequality going on. All are treated equally under the law. So his sentence that, "Discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently under the law" is simply false. No one is treated differently under the law.

Now is there proper discrimination? Yes. There is. We say siblings can't marry. Be they same-sex, opposite sex. It doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if it's "individuals they/we choose" to marry. The law (properly) discriminates here.

Also consider someone who is already married. They are prohibited from marrying someone else until they are divorced. We (properly) discriminate in that way.

So the arguments in Joe's first paragraph are debunked. Thus, he has no basis for his second paragraph.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

And Mr. Lazar's comments only serve to demonstrate the irrationality and heartlessness of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Rob Lazar said...

What's irrational about what I said?

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Six years of interaction with you Rob have gone nowhere ... don't know what else to say.

Best of luck to you as you continue on your journey.

Rob Lazar said...

Let everyone know this demonstrates Joe has no basis for his claims. I asked simply for him to say whether or not he believed Jesus' teachings were religious extremism. It's a very straightforward question. I might agree with him if I knew where the error is. But he refuses to answer. So one has only one conclusion to make...Joe has nothing to support his assertion.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Thanks for putting yourself out here in the printed word Rob. It is more appreciated than you'll ever know ... :-)

seamus (james) scott said...

I have tried to avoid this but we seem to be at that point in the conversation. All of the arguments presented for the lgbt people are based on emotinal responses leaning us to feel that they are the victims of countless attrocity.

At any point when a direct question has been asked of you the blogger you dodge a direct answer with reason. Instead you steadly point to others as the instigator. And to add directly to all of this some where in this conversation there needs to be explicite truth. Simply put up is up, if a real discrimination has happened. Then I have failed to see it your counter points lack reason and show only emotional response the reveal that you cannot respect the belief structure of anyone who may call your lifestyle sin whether they are radical or realistic or simply uncomforatable I saw this and commented with an open mind seeing the begining of reason in you that has faded to emotional irrationality.

I'm sorry to say I feel that for someone who claims to be trying to erase bigotry here in venago your approach is rather closed minded to anyone of faith or reason.

End Bigotry in Venango County said...

Huh?

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog relating to from Christian side

http://the343perspective.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

The bigotry spoken of here is a little confusing, as to which side is actually guilty of it. My son is part of this group in which you write about. He has a love for God..and for people, black, white, gay, straight, Muslims, ect. as does His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...who teaches and preaches anything but hate or bigotry. This visit of GZMC is not some secret plot to bash homosexuals, but to bring Christ's message of love and peace. I have to smile at homosexuals cries of persecution. Yes they have been wronged by those who hate...but true followers of Jesus Christ are not among them. We are not eachothers judges. He is the only Judge. Try researching the persecutions going on this very day of Christians..tortures, imprisonments, murders. These kids are not out to get you...all they want to do is share the better way that they have found. What is the URGENT ALERT?

S.S. Booker said...

Interesting stuff here folks. When I first began reading about this issue I thought, “no, this group should not be allowed to present at a public school.” I thought this because promoting a specific religion is wrong when the setting is a public school. However, as I read some of your comments it began to seem as if ALL religious baggage would be checked at the door and that the group would preach a universal, secular message of hope and well-being. As long as they didn’t identify themselves as being a Christian group or preach any of the Christian dogma I find that this would be completely acceptable. Just as I’m sure all of you would be ok with a Muslim or Buddhist group doing the same thing.

However, the scope of these comments go above and beyond adherence to “separation of church and state.” Some of you chose to address the issue of gay marriage. You said that the word “marriage” belongs to the Christian church and that, since homosexuality is un-Christian, it should not be extended to gay couples. As you know, words change over time and often completely change meaning. But I can assure you that it is not the word “marriage” that gay couples are after. I can be certain that it is things such as the right to have one party’s health benefits cover the other, the right to visit one’s partner if he/she becomes incapacitated or incarcerated, the right to establish ties between families, and the ability to be legally recognized as a couple that they seek. It isn’t to have their relationship sanctioned and blessed by your priest. Surely they’d let you call it whatever you like, so long as they were afforded the same legal and economic advantages as any other couple.

Also, some of you seem to be opposed to the homosexual agenda and even call some of those who support it “intolerant” of your beliefs. However, you are mistaken. Again, I can assure you that, for the most part, they do not oppose the way you live your lives or the decisions that you make. They don’t care who you marry, how you dress, or even what you think about them. Their “intolerance” is directed at the way a certain group of people’s beliefs are used to infringe on their own freedom and civil liberties. Everyone is entitled to believe what they want, but it is when these beliefs are forced onto others and used to structure society in a way that affords some citizens more rights than others that we arrive at intolerance. So yes, they are intolerant of intolerance, and this is the only acceptable form.

Just don’t hide behind “the teachings of Christ” when you say that homosexuals shouldn’t be afforded the same rights as heterosexuals. The doctrine of the Christian church (The New Testament) was written centuries after his death; he preached love, acceptance, and forgiveness, and he undoubtedly never commented on the issue.