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A church ministry has found a new way to indoctrinate public school students, and the Pennridge School District in Pennsylvania is giving them the platform to pull it off.

If you visit the district’s website, there’s a page that includes community resources for parents and students. As I write this, there are flyers for adult education classes, a youth leadership development program, athletic clubs, etc.

There’s also a flyer for “RE:VIVALS Outreach Center” which offers free tutoring for students in the district. The flyer even notes that the volunteers who work with them “are educators, administrators, counselors, and aides. All have received full clearance from the State of
Pennsylvania to work with children and youth.”

It’s not until you read the fine print at the very bottom that you notice the catch: This is a bait-and-switch attempt to “bring hope and healing to the community through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

That’s not just some euphemism. This isn’t a church that expresses its faith by helping members of the community. This is a blatant attempt to indoctrinate public school students. And we know that because one mother reached out to them in the hopes they could help her daughter catch up in her AP Biology class after she missed several lessons on evolution… and the response was jaw-dropping:

Laura Foster, a district parent, reached out to the program, Re:vivals Resource Center, to inquire about assistance for her daughter, Camille, with her AP Biology exam.

In an email response to Foster, Donna Tindall of Re:vivals, wrote that a tutor could help Camille understand evolution through a “biblical worldview… meaning that we believe that God created the world in six literal days.”

“Although we accept this through faith, there is evidence pointing in that direction,” said Tindall. “I think our tutor would welcome the opportunity to help [Camille] understand what is being presented and perhaps to examine the presuppositions as well as the supporting facts for both conclusions.”

None of that would help Camille. What it would do it confuse her by injecting mythology into a science class, leaving her worse off as she prepares for an advanced placement exam that could earn her college credit. Spreading misinformation and embracing lies may be acceptable for members of the First Baptist Church of Perkasie, which sponsors the program, but it shouldn’t be an option for people who take education seriously. It’s despicable that the school allows this program to be publicized on its website without any sort of disclaimer that this ministry is mostly interested in winning converts and undoing what students learn in the classroom.

When Emily Rizzo of public radio station WHYY inquired about this with Pennridge Superintendent David Bolton, he initially said any group is allowed to request their flyers listed on the district’s website… before offering his personal stamp of approval for this particular for of misinformation:

In an email to Foster, Superintendent Bolton said he had “spoken directly with Re:Vivals about the tutoring program before it began and [had] personally visited multiple times and [had] received feedback from multiple families who have used the service.”

I’m sure it all seems very nice and the volunteers mean well. That doesn’t erase the fact that this is just an attempt to indoctrinate kids through the public school system or that the “tutoring” involves material that contradicts what kids learn in the classroom.

Parents shouldn’t have to investigate the organization themselves in order to understand the real mission. The school should make that clear up front instead of suggesting they vetted and approved all the groups posting flyers on the website.

Perhaps it’ll take Satanists or atheists demanding their own groups’ flyers get listed on the district’s website before these people take the matter seriously.

WHYY also notes that this particular district has been at the center of a number of recent “culture war” battles that pushed for conservative Christian policies:

In December, Pennridge released a new policy to school officials involving the removal of books about “gender identity” from elementary school libraries. The district administration also sent new guidelines to elementary school faculty to not  “discuss or use terms related to LGBTQ.” Students must also gain parent permission if they want to change their gender pronouns or names. Over the summer, the Pennridge school board voted to pause the district’s diversity equity and inclusion initiatives.

The district is effectively functioning as an arm of the local churches. And students are the ones who are ultimately punished for that partnership.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.