Mothers of students at Middleton High School in Wisconsin are engaged in a religious freedom battle with the school principal and superintendent.
The high school allows students to eat lunch off campus. So in 2014, students began meeting with their parents in a nearby park called Fireman’s Park, which is not part of the physical school campus.
The controversy was raised when parents would provide home-cooked meals followed by a Christian-themed inspirational message. The meetings were held throughout the school year and eventually grew into a group of almost 500 students turning out for Chick-fil-A sandwiches, homemade brownies, and fruit. It has been awarded the name “Jesus Lunch” by the attendees.
“We show up every week just to show the love of Jesus. Our mission statement for Jesus Lunch is ‘Food for the body, nutrition for the soul.’” – Beth Williams, Parent of Student
The superintendent, Donald Johnson, and principal, Stephen Plank, called the off-campus meetings, “divisive.” They are on a campaign to have the meetings shut down. The two wrote an email to the parents of the student body explaining their stance on the issue:
“We believe that religious or political events do not have a place in our school or on our campus, except when sponsored by a student group in accordance with our rules, which require prior approval.”
The school district also made the claim that the parents are ignoring basic “food-handling standards.”
“Food of any kind that is served to a student must be approved by the school district to ensure food safety, cleanliness and health. In addition, many students are subject to food allergies, so additional protocols must be followed to safeguard students with these conditions.”
However, their arguments stand weak due to the fact the parents aren’t making the Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and that the meetings do not take place on the actual school campus. The school is arguing, however, that since they lease the park from the city during school hours, it is still part of the campus.
This argument isn’t holding up well either due to the fact that the park is still for public use during the time of the school lease.
“Fireman’s park — a public park owned by the City of Middleton — remains accessible to everyone in the public for the purposes of assembly and free speech. By law, the lease agreement between the city and the School District of Middleton does not privatize the park. The City of Middleton has sent us a letter this week and acknowledged our rental agreement of the pavilion at Fireman’s park.” – Statement From Parents of Students
Students have also made the comment that the school district is trying to shut down the meetings because they are Christian and that if it had been for students protected under non-discrimination laws, that the school would not only allow, but endorse the meetings.
The attack on Christianity continues as students are facing pushback for talking about Jesus off campus during lunch.
Should the students be allowed to meet to talk about Jesus? Comment and let us know!