Representatives from the Todd Becker Foundation, a nonprofit Christian group, spoke about the dangers of drinking and driving (Todd Becker died in an alcohol-related crash) during an assembly at the Logan-Magnolia High School in Iowa.
School Superintendent Tom Ridder praised the anti-drinking message, but was surprised when anti-gay and anti-Mormon materials were allegedly given out after the assembly, which cost taxpayers $1,500, notes The Des Moines Register.
"If I had known that would have been the case, they would not have come into the building," Ridder told the newspaper.
After the school assembly, there was a second event, which was criticized by the ACLU of Iowa in a six-page letter that said the message "was expressly proselytizing, including preaching against homosexuality and an invitation to attendees to kneel at the front of the room and welcome Christianity into their lives."
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Charlotte Lefeber, who withdrew her children from the school, said: "To be hateful and derogatory? It’s not acceptable."
The Iowa Department of Education investigated the incident and did not cite Logan-Magnolia Schools, but did publish recommendations for schools to vet speakers and material handouts in a July newsletter.
"It definitely blurs the line," Staci Hupp, the department's spokeswoman, told The Des Moines Register. "We felt the district recognized the problems that resulted. They seemed very interested in preventing something like this from happening again."
Keith Becker (pictured above), who runs the foundation named after his brother, Todd, told the newspaper: "There was a clear separation between the daytime and evening events -- and no reasonable observer could have confused the private speech of the Todd Becker Foundation team with actions or speech of school officials."
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The foundation website states:
When the Todd Becker Foundation visits a high school, they typically put on two separate events/assemblies. The first is the afternoon assembly for grades 9-12, which is held during the school hours. This assembly tells the tragic Todd Becker story and challenges students to take the narrow road, according to the scripture Matthew 7:13. The major focus of this message is choices and their consequences.
That same evening, students, parents, and the community are invited back to a second event where the band puts on a concert and an entirely different story and message is presented. This evening event focuses primarily on the story of how Todd's brother Keith, came to faith in Christ following his brother's death. Having said that, the evening event is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is presented and the major focus is a salvation message.
"They're a traveling show," Rita Bettis, the legal director of the ACLU of Iowa, added. "It's important that school superintendents and officials understand that they may be asked to invite Todd Becker into their schools, and they should know what happened at Logan-Magnolia."
KRDO reported in May 2015 that a teacher filed a lawsuit against Florence High School in Colorado for allegedly promoting evangelical Christianity. Part of that lawsuit said that the public school hosted an assembly by the foundation that was based on a Bible verse from the Book of Matthew.
As noted above, the foundation website cites Matthew 7:13, which states: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."