Dan Clites organizes a prayer walk at the Northfield High School; it’s a Trojan Horse

Update Sept. 16: See the blog post I was wrong. Prayer walk at the Northfield High School was organized by student Maria Olson.

Last week, Rejoice! pastor Dan Clites posted this on the church’s website (since removed):

THIS FRIDAY! DO YOU CARE ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS? Of course you do! So, let’s pray walk the grounds of Northfield High School and start seeing the spiritual climate change for our students, faculty and administration! THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 26th…meet at 7:00 pm sharp in front of the NHS Auditorium entrance. We will pray walk for 45-minutes. If you feel uncomfortable praying out loud— then just walk along in agreement! It will make a difference because the Bible says God hears our prayers!

I went as an observer and to take photos. Why?

Aug. 26, 2011 prayer walk at the Northfield High School Video on Northfield Patch - Prayer Walk for Northfield High School

In my Feb. 12 blog post, What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda?, I pointed out the connection between Dan Clites and Ed Silvoso who believes that gay people are possessed by demons. 

For TN [Transformation Northfield] to be connected to Ed Silvoso and his organization is ominous.

Any message, direct or indirect, that homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals are somehow under the influence of demonic forces, is not only hurtful and destructive but dangerous.  It can have a corrosive effect on the morale of LGBT employees who work for the city and school district.

And for any LGBT youth in our schools who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity, it can exacerbate their pain, lead to depression, or worse.

It concerns me that some teachers and coaches who are members of TN might convey this belief to the youth they work with. And it concerns me that some of the youth involved with TN, who are urged to live their calling in the marketplace of school, could fall into demonizing other youth.

For Clites and Rejoice! to take a prayer campaign to the steps of Northfield High School is more disturbing than the prayer group in City Administrator Al Roder’s office at Northfield City Hall back in 2007.

I assume the prayers were generic/innocuous, judging from the video they posted on Northfield Patch. But for Clites to say that "We’re here to simply pray blessing and let God’s Holy Spirit move," is more than a little disingenuous. Judging from his writings and those of his mentors , his unstated belief is likely that demonic forces inhabit the building and some of the faculty, staff and students who are LGBT.

Clites’ philosophy appears to be consistent with dominionism, which was the focus of a Fresh Air show last week titled The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare (audio/summary here; full transcript here) .  Researcher Rachel Tabachnick was Terry Gross’ guest. Here’s an exchange about dominionism and ‘demonic principalities:’

racheltabachnickMs. RACHEL TABACHNICK: I would say the basic beliefs began with the idea of dominionism, and dominionism is simply that Christians of this belief system must take control over all the various institutions of society and government. They have some unusual concepts of what they call spiritual warfare that have not been seen before in other groups.

Spiritual warfare is a common term in evangelicalism and in Christianity, but they have some unique approaches and unique spins on this that distinguish them from other groups.

GROSS: And that literally have to do with casting demons out of people and religions and…

Ms. TABACHNICK: They use this in terms of evangelizing. So whereas we might be accustomed with the idea of saving souls, of missionaries or evangelical work to save individual souls; they believe that they can, through this demon warfare, take control over entire communities, or perhaps nations or people groups, an ethnic group, a religious group and so forth, because they believe that they are doing spiritual warfare at this higher level against these demonic principalities, what they call demonic principalities.

See also last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine for a column by Bill Keller, executive editor, titled Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith.

And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed.

So this season I’m paying closer attention to what the candidates say about their faith and what they have said in the past that they may have decided to play down in the quest for mainstream respectability.

Clites and some of his followers have their own Trojan horse saddled up and galloping around Northfield, an unstated plan is to get more people (they already have two, Jeff Quinnell on the Northfield School Board and Rhonda Pownell on the Northfield City Council) elected to public office. The Northfield School Board is where they hope to affect public policy related to LGBT issues and probably others (intelligent design?).

Of course, I’ve got no problem with any group trying to affect public policy by getting elected. But tactics and transparency matter and I object to how Clites demonizes people (‘principalities of opposition’) and how he and some members of TN and Rejoice! aren’t transparent about some aspects of their agenda.

But then, what do I know?  According to Clites (twice in my conversation with him last Friday), I can’t be expected to understand these things because I’m an atheist.

Update 8:39 PM: I’ve amended the 3rd to the last paragraph above to read:

…an unstated plan is to get more people (they already have two, Jeff Quinnell on the Northfield School Board and Rhonda Pownell on the Northfield City Council) elected to public office.

The original version left out Rhonda Pownell, an oversight on my part.

Update Sept. 16: See the blog post I was wrong. Prayer walk at the Northfield High School was organized by student Maria Olson.

132 comments to  (Including 24 Discussion Threads) Dan Clites organizes a prayer walk at the Northfield High School; it’s a Trojan Horse

  • 1

    Griff, as always, I appreciate any linking to Northfield Patch. :)

    But I need to clarify something.

    You wrote: “I assume the prayers were generic/innocuous, judging from the video they posted on Northfield Patch.”

    Dan, Rejoice! or TN did not post the video on Patch. We made the video ourselves.

    A Patch reader made me aware of the prayer walk and I thought it would be something good for us to cover. I sent a videographer there to record what happened. We didn’t know what would come of it. It could have gone as it did, or the group could have been met by another group who opposed what they were doing.

    We did not cover the event because we supported it or opposed it, the same as we don’t support or oppose city council agenda items or the Raiders (not that we wish they would lose, of course). It’s not my job to decide what is right, wrong or indifferent. It’s the reader or viewer’s responsibility to decide what they believe.

    As you have proven over the years, LG is a great outlet for you and others to opine. While Patch welcomes comments (and, of course, encourages them), you won’t see myself or anyone who works for me commenting on such sensitive topics on our site. It’s just not our place in this community.

    I hope that helps with the conversation.

    Of course,

    • 1.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Corey. I’ve stricken the word ‘they’ from my link so that it now reads:

      judging from the video posted on Northfield Patch.

    • 1.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      Corey, you wrote:

      I sent a videographer there to record what happened. We didn’t know what would come of it. It could have gone as it did, or the group could have been met by another group who opposed what they were doing.

      I was engaged in a heated conversation with Dan Clites, which was obvious to everyone there. Clites kept trying to get me away from the group and the videographer. Your videographer evidently didn’t understand your instructions or he would have come over to video the two of us. That’s why I thought the video was really a Clites promo video posted to Patch.

    • 1.3
      Robbie Wigley says:

      Gee Corey… I just looked at the video and it sure looks like a promotional video to me.

      • 1.3.1

        Robbie, I assure you it’s not.

        Everything in this world comes down to perception. Either you buy into what was said or not. This video is no more a promotion for the group and their prayer walk than a video about the rising Cannon River in the spring is for flooding.

        It was something we decided to cover. Like a football game. Like a fundraiser at a school. Like the dogs jumping into Old Memorial Pool. There’s not much more to it.

        Though, if you’re curious about my religious beliefs, I’d encourage you to read my profile on Northfield Patch.

        Thanks for the conversation on this topic. It’s time for me to bow out of this one. :) Griff, let me know when you get a good snapshot of a duck. ;)

  • 2
    Griff Wigley says:

    Dan Clites will also be riding his Trojan horse at two DJJD events, according to the This and That page on the Rejoice! site:

    Rejoice! partner Brett Reese has been named the 2011 Joseph Lee Heywood Award winner! The award is given annual during the week of DJJD to honor a Northfielder who has done outstanding work in the community. Brett will be officially honored this coming Wednesday evening, September 7, at the annual Heywood banquet. Pastor Dan was asked by Brett to share the opening prayer for the evening.

    Pastor Dan will also lead a brief noon service the same day at the graveside of Joseph Heywood. All are invited.

    Since when has our historical-oriented community celebration that is Defeat of Jesse James Days become an opportunity for religious proselytizing?

    • 2.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      I’ve been in email contact with some members of the DJJD committee about this issue of Dan Clites appearing at the two DJJD Heywood events. I’ve asked for a response.

      I’ve learned that the Heywood Award winner traditionally has the option of picking a person to give an invocation at the banquet. That person, usually a minister, is also then invited to speak briefly at the Heywood graveside memorial service.

      • 2.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Sorry Griff, but how is this an issue that needs to be addressed? Just because you don’t like Clites, doesn’t mean that it is an issue for the DJJD. I would venture to guess that there are serveal people that see nothing wrong with Mr. Reese having his Pastor give the invocation. Why are you trying make it keep Pastor Clites quite and out of the public?

      • 2.1.2
        Griff Wigley says:

        Raymond, you have legitimate questions. I’m preparing a longer response, probably a blog post.

      • 2.1.3
        Griff Wigley says:

        I got an email from two members of the DJJD Committee. They have decided to allow Dan Clites to do the invocation at the Heywood Award banquet and to speak at the Heywood graveside memorial service.

        They’ve indicated that they’ll post something about it here on LoGro on Tuesday. I’ll wait till that appears before I comment further.

  • 3
    Griff Wigley says:

    After writing and publishing the above blog post, I came home to eat breakfast and read the paper. And when I got to the Strib Opinion page, I see this commentary by Ron Bates titled: I tried for years to pray away the gay. It didn’t work. (The online version uses the headline, Growing up Catholic and gay in Minnesota):

    For years and years, I would prostrate myself on the floor and ask God to change me. Maybe if I just pray more, fast more, do more “works of charity,” the male attraction will go away. After more than 30 years of trying to “burn” the evil out of me, I finally came out at age fifty four. God finally broke through to my heart of hearts and said, “I love you just as you are. You are praying for healing, but you are not sick!” Our God does not change. God is God always. And God was with me always. After all the self-hatred and foibles of life, God was still there waiting for me.

    At that moment, the shame and guilt I had felt for years left — once and for always. If Pope Benedict had been standing right there to tell me I was “disordered,” I would have said to him, “You are wrong. God made me and loves me just as I am.”

  • 4
    Raymond Daniels says:

    Griff- with all due respect, it appears that you have a personal vendetta against Dan Clites and Rejoice!. The prayer walk was sponsored by several churches, not just Rejoice!. I also think you are make huge leap from saying a prayer walk, sponsored by several churches, is tied to some anti LGBT movement. Seriously, what is your personal vendetta? Also, if I was one of the parents of the children up above, I wouldn’t be too happy with having their picture posted/publish on your website.

    • 4.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Raymond, I honestly don’t have a personal vendetta against Pastor Clites. He’s never done or said anything to me personally to offend me. This was the first time I’ve met him and our argument, while heated, was very civil. We agreed to meet for coffee soon to continue the discussion.

      As for my photo that included children, I didn’t name anyone. And that was on public property.

      What other churches sponsored the prayer walk? Clites didn’t mention any in his announcement.

      • 4.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Griff…I think you do have something against Pastor Clites. The three threads you have started about Clites have all been attack pieces. You say you don’t have anything against him, but you seem to single him and his church out all the time.

  • 5
    Griff Wigley says:

    FYI, I’ve amended the 3rd to the last paragraph above to read:

    …an unstated plan is to get more people (they already have two, Jeff Quinnell on the Northfield School Board and Rhonda Pownell on the Northfield City Council) elected to public office.

    The original version left out Rhonda Pownell, an oversight on my part.

  • 6
    Bruce Morlan says:

    [warning - a bit of hyperbole may follow, but as with humor, it is but a thin veneer beneath which lies some truth]

    As is too often the case, we become embroiled in the minutia (who said what to whom when) because it is too difficult to address the real issue. The real issue is, IMNSHO, whether we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past — once again to be ruled by a well-organized minority who use fear, uncertainty, doubt, and the inertia of the mass to tighten their grip on their followers and then use their cohesion to create a form of cultural hegemony that none dare stand against. The certainty that comes with faith is more than a match for the greater glory found in scientific uncertainties. The faithful are so certain of their righteousness that they can stare into the face of facts and cover it with a thin veil, a powerful illusion of having a greater insight than the rest of us.

    The proximate issue that seems to motivate concern is the suspected anti-gay agenda of this particular set of activists. The educated amongst us have read the literature and understand the science when it suggests that there are many factors that lead to someone being gay. Twin studies are a great example of how science approaches a question that the faithful do not care to even ask. Boiled down to its essence, twin studies allow us to look for, and find, that the difference in sexual expression when comparing identical (maternal, monozygotic (MZ)) twins and similar non-identical (paternal, dizygotic (DZ)) twins is almost certainly attributable to genetics at the DNA coding level. To ignore these sorts of analyses or discount them all as being politically discovered untruths is acceptable only within the confines of a (no doubt) small private space (though the concept of thought-crime is a bit too Orwellian for my taste).

    The thought that our government and social bodies are being stealthily infiltrated with group-thinking people is disturbing. I did not like it when I saw it happening to newsrooms (UCLA study) and I do not like to see it now happening to the institutions of the Republic, a Republic that was (supposedly) structured to protect the rights of the individual and by extension of the groups they belong to.

    Both sides in this discussion will invoke the famous quote:

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I did not speak out;
    As I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    As I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I did not speak out;
    As I was not a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    Ref: Martin Niemuller

    because it warns us of the cost of being passive in a dynamic world.

    I invoke it now. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and we, as a community, cannot just stand by while this movement grows. It is the middle of the night. I hear the knocking at my neighbor’s door. I do not hide. I do not let it happen. I stand now, while the price is simply the derision of the pacified, rather than trying to stand later, when the bayonets have been affixed and the truncheons are a-swinging.

    Freedom. Peace. Justice. You can have them all. Or you can have none of them.

    • 6.1
      Kathie Galotti says:

      Bruce,

      Really articulated well. Thanks.

    • 6.2
      Phil Poyner says:

      Bruce, it appears there are still folks that disagree with the UCLA study. Some good food-for-thought in this article (http://mediamatters.org/research/200512220003), whether people agree with it or not.

      • 6.2.1

        Sorry, the UCLA study is just one of many similar works. This question is at least as settled as are the causes of cystic fibrosis, brown eyes and tallness. Unfortunately, the modern popularization of science is not nearly so neutral as it was back when I was a student. The politicization of science, whether to serve (or attack) a basically political agenda is resulting in a form of science by voting that makes us mistrust the very studies that we need to navigate our world. Politicians and activists will embrace whatever bad science motivates their base, it happens in both major parties. My deepest fear is that these same politicians and activists actually believe their own rhetoric.

        I come to this part of the discussion as an actively practicing statistician (in medical research) who has worked on genomic studies, attended many a professional meeting discussing methods, conclusions and implications thereof. I do not speak casually on this matter.

      • 6.2.2
        Phil Poyner says:

        Bruce, then I’d appreciate it if you were to cite some of those other studies. It is because of the “politicization of science” that I’m reluctant to accept conclusions drawn from a single source. In fact, I found it disappointing that the article I posted above only appears to speak of one particular study “Media bias in presidential elections: a meta-analysis”) that supported their view.

        Oh, and as meteorologist I’d say I have more than passing experience with both statistics (as applied within my own field) and the politicization of science. As a result I tend not to speak casually on either matter.

        Otherwise, although I haven’t always agreed with every opinion or position you’ve ever taken, I do agree with the bulk of what you had to say in your original post.

    • 6.3
      David Ludescher says:

      Bruce,

      Liberty requires us, as a community, to let people like Clites march, worship, and speak in peace and freedom. I would think that a libertarian like you would be less concerned about evangelicals doing their own thing than “liberals” trying to protect us (the pacified masses) from people from whom we have never asked for protection.

      Liberal intolerance is understandable; it is part of their philosophy. Libertarian intolerance is an oxymoron.

  • 7
    Obie Holmen says:

    Two points.

    First, here is a link to a Huffpost article this morning about Dominionism.

    Second, it is the thesis of the best-selling book “American Grace” that the apparent nexus of conservative evangelicals with right wing politics, especially anti-gay rhetoric and policies, has turned many Americans away from Christianity. “If that’s what Christianity is all about, I’m not interested.”

    • 7.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Obie,

      You must have read a different version of American Grace than I did. American Grace was a survey of politics and religion. It had no thesis, only conclusions. And, I don’t recall that one of the conclusions was that Americans were turning away from Christianity because of right wing politics.

      In fact, Americans are turning away from mainline denominations, especially non-Catholic Christian denominations which tend to be the most politically liberal. Americans who are turning more towards religion are flocking to non-denominational churches. Americans who are turning away from religion are primarily turning agnostic. Very little of the changes appear to do with politics.

      And, on the whole, those who identify themselves as religious tend to be more generous and involved in American society than those who aren’t not religiously affiliated.

      • 7.1.1
        Obie Holmen says:

        David,

        “A growing number of Americans, especially young people, have come to disavow religion. For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics. If religion equals Republican, then they have decided that religion is not for them.”

        American Grace, p. 3.

        If you missed this basic premise introduced in the opening chapter, I suggest you read the book again. You are correct in one thing, though; their analysis is statistically based.

      • 7.1.2
        kiffi summa says:

        OK, David… how in the world do you justify your last sentence in your previous comment: “And, on the whole,those who identify themselves as religious tend to be more generous and involved in American society than those who aren’t (not) religiously affiliated”.

        That is a purely declarative, and a very broad statement to make; how would you sustain that presumption?

      • 7.1.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Kiffi,

        That is one of the conclusions of the authors of American Grace. Their hypothesis, which seems reasonable, is that some of the involvement is due to the social justices agendas preached in most religions, i.e. cause and effect, and some of the involvement can be explained by the fact involved people tend to join religions as well as joining in the civic life.

  • 8
    David Ludescher says:

    Bruce,

    When Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, including the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”, I don’t think he made an exception later in the document.

  • 9
    john george says:

    Griif- Your continual struggle with Dan Clites reminds me of this passage in Matthew 21:23-27

    23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
    24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
    They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
    27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
    Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

    It seems you are challenging Dan along the line of authority, as if he did not have any right or authority to have a prayer meeting on public property. Tell me, would you have protested as much if an Islamic group had held a meeting to denounce the Great Satan of America? What if a Druid group had met around the flag pole to advance the focus on paganism? Do you believe these groups would have more rights than Dan Clites? Are you claiming to be objective in your posts? (You have every right to be unobjective.)

    • 9.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      John, I’ve no problem with the group having their prayer meeting on public property like they did. I didn’t raise that issue in my blog post. Dan, on the other hand, had a big problem with me taking photos, to which I said, “Dan, it’s public property we’re on. I can take photos.”

      • 9.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Not trying to be confrontational here, but Griff are you saying that people should stay in their house if they don’t want their picture taken? Shouldn’t someone be allowed to walk down the street, sit in park, or walk around a school without having worry about having their picture taken by some local activist and posted on the web? I, for one, don’t like to have my picture taken by anyone.

      • Griff Wigley says:

        Raymond, no worries about being confrontational. We’re having a civil argument!

        Over the years, I’ve taken about 10,000 photos of Northfield area people in public or sem-public places and put them on the web. It’s been maybe 5 times when people asked me to not publish their photo. I’ve always complied with their wishes.

        If the people who gather on Bridge Square every Saturday at noon to protest war objected to my taking their photo and publishing it here, I’d refuse their request. They’re engaged in a public act, a protest, on public property and that indicates to me that their desire for privacy need not be heeded. Same with this prayer walk on public property. Same with the women who were praying at City Hall.

  • 10

    …as if he did not have any right or authority to have a prayer meeting on public property. Tell me, would you have protested as much if an Islamic group had held a meeting to denounce the Great Satan of America? What if a Druid group had met around the flag pole to advance the focus on paganism? Do you believe these groups would have more rights than Dan Clites?

    And, John, tell me: Would you have been protesting the Muslims and Druids? I think Griff is rightfully concerned with a much bigger issue; namely, the theocratic overthrow of our democratic nation.

    Under their godly cloaks lies greed and lust for personal power, above all else.

    • 10.1
      john george says:

      Brendon. I don’t care what stripe a group is associated with, I would defend their “right” to hold a meeting on public property. If I do not defend their right, then I have no right, either. I don’t have to agree with them to allow them to meet.

  • 11
    kiffi summa says:

    As often happens this thread has already gone far astray from what would seem was its original intent , if I understand Griff’s “Trojan Horse” analogy…

    Is it just too ‘scary’ to talk about?
    Can we be honest about what we think you meant, Griff? by your Trojan Horse analogy?

    Did you mean that what oft seems to be a ‘gift’ or at least a straightforward object, may hold a surprise? might that group be not actual soldiers but “prayer warriors”?

    Some of the original language on the Rejoice! website, some years ago now, talked about ‘kicking through the bloody darkness’, and I’m sure that is not exact, but then again, IMO, it may be… because that sort of language is not unfamiliar to groups who think they operate on the direct word of God.

    Did you mean to warn of possible outcomes when there is a Rejoice! member on the City Council, and another on the School Board? Did you mean to be watchful for legislative actions of faith?

    You say your relationship with Pastor Clites is completely civil; would he say the same?
    It would seem not from the adversarial tone he takes on their website.

    What is the exact purpose of this post, Griff? Can you clearly state that, without any classical allusions?

    • 11.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Kiffi,

      Organizing a prayer walk for the school seems on the surface to be an entirely positive, constructive act.

      But in this case, like in Elk River, its intent is to prepare for the next step, ie, to lead to organized prayers inside the school during the school day. Again, this seems positive, church/state questions aside.

      But one of the unstated goals of these prayer events is to counter what’s seen as the forces of demons operating in the schools and in some of the staff and students, particularly those who are LGBT. I think this is hurtful and destructive. So the goal of my blog post is to shed light on this in hopes that citizens and community leaders object to it and stop it.

      • 11.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Griff, Can’t the same arguement that you are making in the last paragraph be made be made by Christains when it comes to LGBT?

        Maybe the Rejoice! should start a blog to shed some light on this in the hopes that citizens and community leaders object and put a stop to the Local Grown.

      • 11.1.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Griff,

        On what possible basis could community leaders and citizens object to “it” and stop “it”?

      • 11.1.3
        Griff Wigley says:

        Raymond, absolutely. I’d be fine with anyone starting an anti-Locally Grown Northfield blog.

        In fact, Kevin Budig, who ran for Northfield School Board recently, has a blog called Interned in Northfield in which he has regularly criticized me.

        He recently published a blog post Talk About INTOLERANCE!, a response to my post about the prayer walk at the high school:

        I fail to see why the author feels this is such a threat to him?

        It certainly appears that way as this is no the first time this author has gone after Dan and Rejoice!.

        All that is happening here is one man is following his beliefs, is not attacking anyone, unlike many in Northfield do, just read all the comments online and the LTEs we see, as Man of God whom is led to by his Faith and Trust to change city that has it’s share of issues.

        Why attack someone whom is hoping for the better?

        Unless of course author is truly on the side of the enemy and it seems to be that way.

        Note: bet if Dan were an Mullah preaching Islam this dude would think it was okay and be all over it!

        Just saying…

      • 11.1.4
        Griff Wigley says:

        David, I think Northfield High School principal Joel Leer, Northfield Supt. Chris Richardson, and the Northfield School Board could refuse to grant their requests to help publicize prayer walks and prayer meetings at the high school. Evangelist and former banker Chuck Ripka did the prayer walks/meetings at Elk River schools and, according to his book, got permission from school officials every step of the way.

        No one should object to people from praying privately, of course, alone or in groups. But like the prayer meetings in his office sanctioned by former Northfield City Administrator Al Roder, there is a line that public officials should not cross.

      • 11.1.5
        David Ludescher says:

        Griff,

        Why do you say that school officials were publicizing the prayer walk? I didn’t see any evidence of that in the post.

        Are you suggesting that the school board should not allow prayer groups at the school?

      • 11.1.6
        kiffi summa says:

        Well, Griff, if the comments on this site are any indication, there are many “citizens” who do take issue with the Rejoice! tactics, and there are also those who support them.

        As to “community leaders” , your post makes it abundantly clear that there are also those who not only support Rejoice!, but increase their influence by asking them to appear in prominent positions… so if it just a war of numbers of who is on which ideological side, then it will remain just that unless true harm can be shown.

        I emphatically agree that the discrimination against those , especially LGBT persons, who Rejoice! does not favor, is destructive …

        Will anyone come forward with specific examples to show just how hurtful and destructive that discrimination can be?

    • 11.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      David, no, not Northfield. Elk River.

      And I wrote: “No one should object to people from praying privately, of course, alone or in groups.” That would include the schools and city hall, too. And any religious denomination, too…. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.

      It might be interesting to ask Dan Clites if he would object to a Muslim group gathering privately at school to pray. I see he’s speaking on the issue today and next week.

  • 12

    [...] of darkness so riled up. The principalities have gathered and the conversation has begun.  See the forces of good and evil duke it out right here in River [...]

  • 13
    john george says:

    Griff- Ah, I just saw something here. Since you who lean toward atheism do not believe that this non-existent God would possibly move on behalf of those who profess to believe in Him and call upon His name, then for something to happen, it must be done by men. No wonder you are stirred up. Well, let me put you at rest. Our God does incline His ear to our prayers, and when something does happen, it will certainly not be produced by we followers. Paul speaks of this in 1 Cor. 2:4&5:
    “…my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
    and also in 1 cor 4:20:
    “…For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.”
    and in Mark 16:20:
    “…And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”

    On second thought, perhaps you do have reason to be concerned. This move of God coming is completely out of your control.

    • 13.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      John, yes indeed, everything outside of me is completely out of my control… and even much within me (see David Brooks’ new book).

      But just like you, I can try to influence things outside of me that I believe are for the common good. On this issue, we disagree on what the common good is, but there are many issues in which we’d be on the same team.

  • 14
    Cindy Carey says:

    OK…so a group of people gathered together to pray at a school in Northfield. I wasn’t able to be there,and I’m so appreciative that others were able to offer prayers of blessings upon our children and staff (who wish to receive those blessings)as they begin this new year. Just a peaceful group who cares about the kids.
    Prayer is not a new thing to Northfield Schools. Several people posting make it quite clear that they think this is a brand new activity…….

    For several years, that I’m aware of, there have been groups of moms (and some dads) who gather regularly for one reason……and that is to lift our children, schools and staff up in prayer. This has been happening in Northfield Churches…….not just Rejoice! Church. I have been invited to attend these groups. I don’t know when it started but it’s been several years……and it continues now.
    In the mid 70′s there was lots of prayer in the Northfield High School. A group of students, with permission from administration, held large group prayer times DAILY! EVERY single morning in one of the large band rooms, students gathered. They sometimes prayed together in silence but most of the time prayed out loud for peace within the school buildings, peace on the grounds, for the students and their families, for the teachers…….for whatever was on their hearts. Sometimes we sand songs of worship and praise. 20-40 kids came up to that room every morning as they would get to school. One time there were some racial issues going on and there was much anger involved. There were rumors of gang members coming from Minneapolis after school. Police were on the grounds after school and students had to leave immediately. The prayer group wanted to pray but were not allowed to stay for safety reasons……and that afternoon a group of about 50 students gathered and prayed across the street. It was important to them. Some adults ended up joining the group. The situation ended without incident. It was very comforting and strengthening to know we were surrounded by prayer. The prayer group was never hassled in school……there were no problems…….there were no adults trying to stop it. There were other groups with other views that met also. That’s fine. Let them meet. We would just pray for them but would never fight with them.

    And so I sort of chuckle as I see how a simple thing like a group of Northfield people gathering together quietly to pray for blessings on our children…..has turned into something so complicated. It could be such a simple and beautiful thing……and for those who do not believe…….well, just don’t pay attention and do whatever it is that you do. I see peace groups and other types of groups out in public places standing in silence or delivering speeches very often. Christians have the right to free speech also.

    I, for one, am glad to have prayerful people who are concerned for our kids. I am a believer, and I believe that prayer is powerful. There are many prayerful people in Northfield School district. I am one of them ,and I will continue to pray for our kids and our schools. I pray that someday Christian kids can feel free to pray without fear of bullying and attack. And guess what Griff? I would bet that there are probably several who pray for you!

    Praying peace and blessings on all of you……..

    • 14.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Hey Cindy, thanks much for chiming in here… and giving a detailed story going back 30 years.

      Like you, I’m “glad to have prayerful people who are concerned for our kids.”

      And like you, I think that kids should feel free “to pray without fear of bullying and attack.”

      But this prayer movement is different. It’s a form of bullying, too.

  • 15
    Cindy Carey says:

    Well at least we agree on a couple of things,Griff.

    I’m sorry you feel bullied. I pray that someday you won’t feel that way.

    Yes, prayer goes back a long way in the history of Northfield High School. I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say that they felt threatened, bullied, hurt or angry because there was prayer going on. Prayer will always continue. People pray silently in their hearts all the time. People pray silently or quietly as they walk. People gather together in peace to share prayer. Prayer is actually all around us ALL the time…….so is God.

    • 15.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Cindy, no, as a heterosexual happily married man to the same woman for 38 years, I don’t feel bullied at all! But I know that sometimes LGBT students and staff at the Northfield high school do. And if there was an organized prayer group there praying to rid them of their gay demons, I’d say that would be a form of bullying.

    • 15.2
      Kathie Galotti says:

      I think a lot of the issue here is that the bullying Griff is talking about is a somewhat subtle form of bullying. When we hear the term “bullying,” the typical sceanrio that comes to mind is some oversized kid shaking down smaller kids on the playground for their lunch money, or maybe girls disinviting one another to various parties as a punishment for breaching some norm.

      Public prayer for blessings seems, on the face of it, a far cry from such physical or verbal aggression.

      But if I gather a group of people to gather outside o a building you need to go into, and I let you and everyone know that I am there to pray for your soul so that you might hopefully repent of your sinful ways…..well, that seems to me a form of religious bullying.

      First, I’m standing in judgement of you--along with all my pious friends. Second, I’m asserting that I am in a position to know what’s right and what’s wrong--for you. Third, I’m calling public attention to what I don’t like about what you are doing or who you are. Fourth, I’m letting you and everyone else know that I’m more “connected” to the Big Guy than you are, and offering unsolicited “help” for your soul. Kind of arrogant, in my opinion.

  • 16
    john george says:

    Griff- You continue to blame the Christian community as a whole for all the troubles the GLBT folks are experiencing. My position has been, and stll is, that the Christian community is not a monolith. There is hope in the Gospel for sinners. If a person continues to deny they have sin (using Biblical standards, not community standards), they are going to continue to struggle with it. Cleansing (deliverance) can only come with acknowledgement and repentance. There is grace for that. Sin is an avenue for demonic activity. It is not demonic activity. A person cannot rebuke away sin.

    • 16.1
      Bob Gilbertson says:

      In my opinion, it isn’t productive to argue from an obviously false premise. Mr. George, you say, “Griff- You continue to blame the Christian community as a whole for all the troubles the GLBT folks are experiencing.” I sincerely doubt that you really think that this is what Griff has been doing. Look back through the posts; he clearly is not blaming the Christian community as a whole for all of that. So I read that first sentence, and notice that it is obviously false, and then have a harder time giving credit to the rest of what you say.

      • 16.1.1
        john george says:

        Bob- That is a fair enough evaluation. My response is to a summation of many comments posted here, and not a reaction to Griff’s specific comments on this thread.

        Griff- Please forgive me for lumping you into some monolithic definition of atheists. You folks have as many facets as Christianity.

        The thing I need to respond to is accusing Dan Clites and the group praying of instigating bullying of GLBT youth and staff at the High School. I don’t agree with your evaluation that the prayer service out in front of the building will precipitate bullying. I can’t speak for Dan Clites, but my motivation to be involved in this type of meeting would be to see bullying overcome with acts of kindness and blessing.

  • 17
    Brent Bielenberg says:

    Griff,
    I hesitated to write into this blog, but I did feel that there are some wrong facts in your reporting of the prayer meeting that need to be brought to light.
    First, it was not Dan Clites, Rejoice!, or TN that organized this prayer walk at the school. It was a 16 year old junior girl who attends Emmaus that organized it. In fact, the same thing was done last year around the same time of year, also organized by her. She called me (I am the youth pastor at Rejoice!) a week before the date to ask if we would promote it via our email and our website. I believe she called other churches including her own and did the same. She told me it was opened to youth, parents and anyone else who would like to pray for the school. Afterwards, they were invited to her house for a bonfire. I was not there because I forgot (great youth pastor) but it also was not one of my youth leading the group and technically not a Rejoice! youth function. The only connection she has to TN and Rejoice is that I went to school with her dad. There family attends Emmaus and they have never attended a TN meeting. This is a pretty typical youth group activity in many cities throughout the US and world.
    The prayers, if like last year, were positive and general. Last year, most of the prayers were to give the teachers and administrators wisdom for decisions and a blessing for the janitors for cleaning up the mess caused by kids. Some people got a little more specific if they knew the teacher or person they were praying for.

    • 17.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Hey Brent, I’m really glad you chimed in here. Thanks for the detail.

      Any idea why Dan didn’t provide this background information when he posted the alert about it on the Rejoice! website? Or introduce me to the student organizer when I showed up? In every way, he acted like he was the organizer.

      In Elk River, prayer walks were hosted outdoors at the high school prior to hosting them and prayer groups indoors. Since Dan has often referenced Elk River, can you see why, with no other information, I would assume that he was the organizer or at least the impetus for this event?

      • 17.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Griff, now that you have the facts, shouldn’t you ammend/correct your original post?

    • 17.2
      David Henson says:

      Griff, I appreciate your blog but you are in left field here. The girl who organized the prayer walk this is a friend of my wife’s and very sweet. Her father has a campus mission to St Olaf. You really seem to want to equate Christians to racists (remember John Brown and MLK were radical Christians) because they do not generally support gay marriage. I have been around both humanists and Christians quite a bit and both can be resolute in their values but Christians are generally more civil and opening to true dialog (read these posts as proof). I not believe I have even heard the issue of homosexuality in church or amongst Christians being discussed except when baited here (and some in mass media). I think one needs to understand that the Christian ideal is for a man and a woman to become friends and abstain from sex until deciding to marry (with kids a prominent end goal). There is no “exploring sexuality” in this ideal. However, I would guess the prayer circle did not pray about sex (or no sex) at all but just asked God to provide guidance for individuals to behave in a compassionate and God glorifying manner.

    • 17.3
      David Ludescher says:

      Griff,

      You can’t blame Clites because you didn’t get the facts right.

  • 18
    Cindy Carey says:

    Thanks Brent,
    Always nice to know the facts. I knew the facts because when I read about the upcoming prayer walk at the school, it gave all the details. I believe it was on one of these blog sites? The facts were out there.

    Griff…..What is it they say about “assuming?” Perhaps when Pastor Clites saw what some people were going to react like……he chose to not want this young girl to have to face it all? I don’t know.

    Blessings to her for desiring to pray blessings into and around her school……..and for organizing this event.

  • 19
    Mike Bull says:

    This is exactly the kind of mostly respectful dialogue — where people are actually, constructively discussing their differences of opinion — that is necessary for a healthy, productive, civil community. I’m very thankful that Griff takes the time to provide the opportunity for that, and to all of you for engaging in it. I’m also thankful to Griff for being sensitive to the issues that some of the more vulnerable kids in our community face, and watchful over their welfare.

    • 19.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Mike,

      Contrary to your opinion, I have deep concerns about the intolerance shown by the Locally Grown congregation towards Clites, TN, and evangelical Christians.

      • 19.1.1
        Mike Bull says:

        Oh, I don’t see that, David… although I imagine intolerance is in the eye of the beholder. I see a community with good hearted people on all sides of this issue engaged in good faith in a very healthy debate.

      • 19.1.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Mike -- 19.1.1,

        I don’t think we are discussing the same issue, nor having the same debate.

  • 20
    Shelley Brady says:

    It has been a long standing tradition with the Defeat of Jesse James Days to have the Heywood Recipient choose to have the invocation done by the clergy of their choice. This individual will also give a short prayer at the cemetary where we honor Joseph Lee Heywood for the Memorial Service.

  • 21
    Obie Holmen says:

    A post today on Daily Kos, admittedly a lefty blog, addresses Dominionism and quotes the familiar Sinclair Lewis warning … “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”

    • 21.1
      David Henson says:

      I think some need an history refresher on the Nazi and Fascist references. Hitler based Eugenics in science and had long lists of scientists around the world signed on to the idea (sound familiar ?). He used science as a basis to kill homosexuals. Churches have never built human ovens … it is clear the ideology we should fear.

      • 21.1.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        David H,

        If your point is that bad science can lead to bad results, you’re quite right. As for churches and ovens, you may be right here, too — though the “history refresher” you recommend might turn up some unpleasantness with church-related burning at the stake. About 5000 people seem to have been so treated in the Inquisition.

        None of these atrocities say much to me about churches or science as such. They seem to me to be instances of ideologies out of control.

      • 21.1.2
        David Henson says:

        Paul,
        In prior posts writers referred to Christians as fascists, etc because they denied the “gay gene.” I was pointing out this is wrong-headed. Science is super powerful when used in it’s venue but when crossing it over to where society draws sexual legal boundaries it is out of it’s venue (certainly as an absolute justification).

        I still fail to understand how science minded folks can accept biological evolution but throw social evolution of mores (1000s of years of mores) out the window. I mean most of the world religions hold to similar social sexual mores and prohibitions and as these are loosened and not followed the health results here in the USA are predictably bad. Why encourage kids to play Russian roulette with their health?

      • 21.1.3
        Bruce Morlan says:

        David H. Funny, I use the same argument. How can people who believe in evolution as it is expressed in the free-enterprise system turn around and deny its role in our being here? Sigh.

        But, in the limited arena of sexual mores, there are debatable arguments that can be made that explain why genes that effect sexual preference expression can survive in a system that is all about sexual reproduction as the measure of fitness. We could talk about Cystic Fibrosis, sickle cell anemia or Huntingtons if you want to start down that path.

    • 21.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Obie,

      Wikiquotes notes that Lewis’ comment did not contain “and carrying a cross”, and that the saying is falsely attributed to him.

      You also neglected to mention that when fascism came to Nazi Germany it was marked by a concern that a religious people, the Jews, needed to be controlled and exterminated.

      • 21.2.1
        Bruce Morlan says:

        David, et al. If the fascism references are based on my earlier post (#6), I used the famous quote therein not to claim that there were fascists in our midst, but to explain why I think we cannot wait to confront activists/extremists of any/all stripes. The cautious conservative moves slowly while the aggressive activist jumps in. Only by moving early can we hope to leverage reason against a flood of passions.

      • 21.2.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Bruce,

        It strikes me that, in this case, the “flood of passions” is not coming from Clites. The connection between this supposed anti-gay agenda and Clites is tenuous at best. I’ll get worked up when I see some evidence.

  • 22
    Raymond Daniels says:

    I can quote too…

    The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day, America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.” — Norman Thomas?, American socialist.

  • 23
    Tom Kotula says:

    I’ve heard that Jesus was a SOCIALIST! Can that possibly be true?!?!?!?!?

  • 24
    Raymond Daniels says:

    Jesus was not a socialist or capitalist. He is Lord, but to you answer the question, he did not advocate giving your wealth to the government to have it redistributed through taxes. He advocate personal charity and sacrafice. He wants our giving to be a joyful and our choice, not a required tax.

  • 25
    laurie cowles says:

    I admire everyone’s polite restraint in this discussion. Griff is obviously taking a beating. Is it possible that he suspects, as I fully do, that Pastor Dan is an imposter -- a voice for the extreme right-wing of the Republican party. His persecution of a law-abiding segment of our society is reprehensible, and he hides behind God to do it. His message is one of hate, and I think there are many of us in Northfield who recognize this. The law does, indeed, protect his right to dance down the street and around the high school praying for those whose souls are not as valued by God as his is. But I don’t have to listen to it and remain silent.
    Shakespeare said it best, “Me thinks the man doth protest too much.”

    • 25.1
      kiffi summa says:

      I think you are absolutely correct, Ms. Cowles… and isn’t that what Griff was saying with his Trojan Horse analogy? Beware what is unseen…

    • 25.2
      john george says:

      Laurie- Dan an imposter? “…[A] voice for the extreme right-wing of the Republican party.?” Are you kidding me? The Trojan Horse better describes the activities of the Gay marriage rights movement. They are trying to turn what is a moral issue for fundamentalist Christians into a political issue. I equate it to the same issue as “choice.” As soon as Griff frees it up, see my comment on the “St. Cloud….” thread.

      • 25.2.1
        Jeff Ondich says:

        John, gay marriage and abortion are also moral issues for people, like me, who disagree with your positions.

      • 25.2.2
        john george says:

        Jeff- I guess it depends upon what your presuppositions are.

      • 25.2.3
        Jeff Ondich says:

        John, I may be mistaken, but it sounds like you are saying that there can be no morality unless it is based on your interpretation of the bible.

        This is the sort of thing that makes people on all sides of these difficult issues so upset. Each “side” (even though I think we’re all in this together) tells the “other side” that its views have no value, even though those views are deeply held. When you tell me my positions are immoral based on your understanding of morality, that’s OK. But when you tell me they’re not about morality at all, and merely “political” (in a pejorative sense, if I read 25.1 correctly), then you’re demeaning me and the many thoughtful people who have developed views like mine through long experience and deliberation. And that makes it a lot more difficult to have a conversation.

      • 25.2.4
        john george says:

        Jeff- The depth of how a person holds an evaluation makes it important to that person, but not universally binding. There is a moral law written on the hearts of men from birth. These verses in Romans 2:14-16 point that out-
        “14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show \the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
        My conviction is that there is an absolute moral right and wrong. It is not relative nor dependent upon how fervently a believer adheres to it, and its source is in God. Tell me, if you have children, did you have to teach them what is right or what is wrong when they were growing up?

        As far as you believing that Gay marriage and the whole lifestyle is morally right, that is your perrogative. I don’t. What I see the Gay community doing is taking their understanding of what is morally correct and using political means to enstate it as a law of the land.

      • 25.2.5
        Jeff Ondich says:

        John, you say “What I see the Gay community doing is taking their understanding of what is morally correct and using political means to enstate it as a law of the land.”

        I see that, too. So what? For my entire life and probably longer, fundamentalist Christians have been trying to use political means to enstate their view of what is morally correct as the law of the land. That’s what people do. In fact, I’ve read a lot of letters to various editors from you, John, and it sure seems to me that encouraging people to make the law consistent with your view of morality is precisely what you are after.

      • 25.2.6
        john george says:

        Jeff- If I were part of a group bucking the pattern that we have had for the 200+ years as a country, we would bear some scrutiny. That is what the Gay community is trying to do- buck what has been an acceptable marrigae pattern since before the inception of this country and our constitution. And that is what I and others are doing- giving it some scrutiny. The things they are clamoring for as “rights” are not being denied them now. There is legal recourse in place to fulfill each of their demands. What they are asking for is to be called the same as married heterosexual couples. I object to this on religious grounds, and the Gay community has raised up their own theologians to re-interpret the Bible to fit within their own desires. They are threatening the fundamentalist community to force them to accede. Look up the “World Magazine”, 09/10/2011 issue, Notebook section, “Conformity Cops” article. I tried posting the link, but it wouldn’t work. Take special note of the last paragraph.

  • 26
    Raymond Daniels says:

    Laurie I am an confused here. When has Pastor Clites ever persecuted a law abiding segement of our society or ever said that God values him more than the next person. In fact, I think it is the opposite case here. The LG is the one that is trying to silence him and persecute Rejoice!.

    Griff, not to be a thorn in your side, but are you going to correct/amend your original blog post now that you have the facts and don’t have to assume anymore?

    • 26.1
      Kathie Galotti says:

      I think Pastor Clites’ hell-bent-edness on trying to move graves to expand his church would at least count toward the spirit of his “going after” law-abiding citizens.

      I am glad that Griff alerts us to Clites’ activities. This guy makes me terribly nervous. I really don’t want to see Northfield overrun with a right-wing extremeist agenda. The Elk River connection is, as Griff says, ominous.

    • 26.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Kathie,

      Griff got the Patch connection wrong and he got the organizer wrong. And, that is just on this post.

      • 26.2.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Kathie, with all due respect, I disagree. As for me, I am more nervous about the far-left liberal agenda here in Northfield. The agenda of “if you don’t agree with me, then you need to be silent.”

        I do applaud Griff though. Griff and I seem to have polar opposite views, yet he has not tried to silence me.

      • 26.2.2
        Paul Zorn says:

        Raymond,

        You refer to

        … the far-left liberal agenda here in Northfield. The agenda of “if you don’t agree with me, then you need to be silent.”

        It’s one thing to criticize or disagree with others’ utterances; it’s another to try to silence them. Can you give examples of “far left liberals” trying to do the later?

      • 26.2.3
        Bruce Morlan says:

        Paul Z. I suspect the “far left” silences contrary opinions using social intimidation and peer pressure the same way the social conservatives do. It is hard to quantify bullying. especially when everyone knows that the group-think answer is correct, even if it is not. I argue here methods, not conclusions.

  • 27
    Bill McGrath says:

    Is it OK with everybody if I get a bunch of Muslims out to the high school so that we can pray that Allah remove the Israeli settlers from the West Bank so that the Palestinians can set up their own country? Is that OK with you, Pastor Clites? Is that OK with you, Grif Wigley? Is it OK with Jeff Quinnell, who is on the school board? How about the 16-year-old girl from Emmaus who supposedly initiated the recent prayer event at the high school? Just checkin’.

    • 27.1
      john george says:

      Gosh, Bill, I didn’t know those were Israeli settlers on the west bank. I thought they were Canadian geese. Be sure to have them watch wehre they step.

    • 27.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Bill,

      The first question is whether it is OK with the constitution that you organize this group. That any type of march may be offensive to community standards or to a particular person is exactly the reason we have to have a constitution.

  • 28
    Helen Albers says:

    Kathie,
    “Law-abiding?”

    Take a drive to Dundas to see what the hell-bent Clites has done to the historic Holy Cross Church!
    He created this “mess” by ignoring an EAW, and while Rejoice! is involved in a lawsuit!

    Also, Rejoice of Northfield is listed as one of the first churches in Minnesota to Vote Down Gays!
    At times, he adds “Lutheran” to Rejoice!, maybe for a bit of added clout? (Clites has
    removed it from their Dundas sign.)

    • 28.1
      Raymond Daniels says:

      Helen, with all due respect, there is nothing in the law suit that is preventing Rejoice! from expanding. Rejoice! also followed the law when by going before the city council for the building permit. As for voting down gays, they did not vote down gays. Rejoice!, along with some 300+ parishes, have left the ELCA over bible teaching. Even the Missouri Synod of Luthern Churches is advising their parishes not do business with the ELCA (There was a story in the Star about this). This is a larger movement than just Rejoice! leaving the ELCA. I think this was discussed in detail in another thread.

  • 29
    Helen Albers says:

    Raymond,

    My facts are well-documented.

    I will add in my defense, “I would never tell a lie.”

    • 29.1
      john george says:

      Helen- Rejoice! did not ignore an EAW. The LGU, Local Governing Unit, is the body that makes the decision to require an EAW or not. The Dundas city council is the LGU in this case, and, after researching the project, they evidently did not conclude the project required an EAW. Also, I have driven past the project many times on the way to fly my RC airplane, and I cannot see anything that has been done to the registered church building proper.

      • 29.1.1

        Rejoice actively opposed an EAW, by letters given to the Dundas City Council, and statements made at the council meeting that determined the matter. While it may not technically have been their decision, it is clear they actively resisted outside scrutiny of their project.

      • 29.1.2
        Raymond Daniels says:

        And it is clear that you and the rest of the opponents of Rejoice! did the same thing. So what is your point here? The council, the LGU, made the decision, not Rejoice!.

  • 30
    Griff Wigley says:

    Brent B and David H, thanks for your comments correcting me on how the prayer walk got organized.

    See my new blog post I was wrong. Prayer walk at the Northfield High School was organized by student Maria Olson.

    I’ve added that sentence to the top and bottom of the blog post above.

  • 31
    Jan Hill says:

    A January 2012 book by journalist Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, brings up another form of religious bullying that starts as young as elementary school with child-on-child attacks based on the victim’s “wrong” religious tradition, which might include, heaven forbid, living in an “unchurched” family. The stories Stewart has uncovered are chilling.

    Years ago, in another state, one of my daughters, age 9, was subjected to fundamentalist bullying when she moved to a new school. She came home the second week telling me a group of kids had befriended her, then told her she would not be saved, loved by God, and so on if she didn’t attend their fundamentalist church. She was seduced daily by the promise of junk food--potato chips, pop, and candy--if she would attend the youth group; they would send a bus right to our house.

    It’s a long story that ended well with my daughter learning for herself that this was not what she wanted. But I have seen versions of child proselytizing here in Northfield as well, and it is disturbing both for the victims, and for the kids who are taught so young that they have the right and responsibility to convert other kids through intimidation.

    Here is a recent Minn Post piece on the book: Katherine Stewart: How Christian clubs in schools turned into faith-based bullying.

    • 31.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Thanks for posting this, Jan. I wasn’t aware of Stewart’s book. This excerpt from her MinnPost interview was very interesting:

      Right now there are enormous resources being devoted to peer evangelism — getting kids to try to convert other children. Last fall I participated in an annual prayer event that takes place in thousands of public schools, See You at the Pole. Children gather around the American flag and pray.

      It’s well established that kids are allowed to pray in school. The legal understanding is as long as they lead the prayers themselves, it’s perfectly acceptable. But the event is this huge spectacle, which it wouldn’t be without adult involvement at every level.

      Churches order materials from See You at the Pole’s central offices near Fort Worth, Texas. Adults basically organize the event on behalf of their youth groups. At the one I attended local pastors told their youth groups about it and produced a slick video telling their kids to attend and put it up on YouTube.

      The same pastor showed up and participated in the event. Afterwards there was an after-party held at a local mega-church and staffed by adults wearing See You at the Pole T-shirts. So even though the students are leading the prayers themselves, adults are really involved at every level.

      Using kids to do what grown-ups are not allowed to do is called, by one of the movement leaders, “a God-given loophole.”

      • 31.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        The same can be said about the GLBT movement in schools too. If you ban one, you need to ban them ALL.

      • 31.1.2
        David Henson says:

        If only they could stick to the 3 Rs at schools.

      • 31.1.3
        rob hardy says:

        If I may backtrack to the original topic of this thread, which was a “prayer walk” at the high school organized by Maria Olson. I don’t know Maria personally, but I know that she was one of a group of Northfield students who were very welcoming to this year’s exchange students at the high school. My impression is that she lives out her faith with kindness rather than bullying. I would be very surprised to learn otherwise. I suppose it’s possible that, somewhere between the hate-mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church and the militant atheists who see the threat of theocracy in every bowed head, there are those blessed few who actually follow Christ.

      • 31.1.4
    • 31.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Griff,

      How is the interview interesting? Stewart doesn’t approve of people exercising their right of religious freedom -- a liberal who doesn’t believe in liberty.

      • 31.2.1

        “Approve of” can be applied in a few ways; there are many things I don’t approve of, but don’t think people should be prevented from doing.

        However, it is easy for me to imagine a point at which I would feel that we ought to prevent people from following a particular course of action whether or not they have a religious justification; for instance, I don’t care whether someone’s religion tells them they have to beat up a particular group of kids, I don’t think they should be allowed to.

        Publically organized events like this are often perfectly reasonable, but there have certainly been cases in which they have been used to identify non-participants as targets for bullying and harassment.

        That said, my only real objections to this are religious in nature; Jesus said not to do stuff like this, and I have a hard time seeing it as a good demonstration of the faith to disregard that. Prayer is supposed to be a private thing, not a showing-off thing.

      • 31.2.2
        john george says:

        Peter- Where did Jesus say not to do this “stuff?” How does your interpretation line up with Matt. 28:19?

        Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

        And, did not Peter and John help the cripple in Acts 3:1-10 right there in the street, or did they do this in secret?

      • 31.2.3

        Matthew 6. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

        Helping people is fine, but this isn’t helping people; it’s making a public spectacle of prayer. It is absolutely, positively, praying with the intent to be seen praying. And that is *exactly* what Jesus said not to do. People often make elaborate excuses about how that doesn’t mean “pray in secret”, but is somehow only about insincere prayer, but I think Jesus meant what He said; I think He meant “pray privately rather than publically, period”.

        There are worse intents, surely. Some organizers have things like this with the intent to make non-Christians feel marginalized and create a sense of group pride among Christians, which (at least among school-age kids) is basically a way to encourage the Christian kids to bully and marginalize non-Christians; this is actively and specifically promoted as a way to drive people to feel that they must convert to avoid being left out and unwelcome. I know a number of people who were harassed and bullied after events like this because it made them stand out, although I think that’s less common now than it was ten or twenty years ago.

        But even if we assume the best of all possible motives, it remains a public announcement of intention to pray in public so people can see the Christians praying. There’s no one being fed or clothed or healed. When Jesus helped people, the primary activity involved was helping them and talking to them, not arranging to make sure everyone knew there was prayer happening.

        And yes, I am totally aware of the irony of me being dogmatic and literal-minded about a Biblical passage. I’m the same way about the one against taking oaths. :)

      • 31.2.4
        David Ludescher says:

        Peter,

        If we focus just upon Stewart, she is selling her own brand of intolerance.

      • 31.2.5

        Why would we focus only on one person?

        There is a common attitude in modern political thought that at most one party can be acting poorly. I am not at all sure that this is generally the case.

        That said, I am not convinced that Stewart’s behavior is really intolerance. She is objecting to the creation of school cliques which have a consistent and established pattern of bullying, coercion, and harassment. Whether they are religious or not, or what religion they are, hardly matters; they are creating a hostile and destructive environment.

        Free exercise of religion does not mean “you can do anything you want, however atrocious, as long as you say it is because of your religion”. A religion which teaches that you may beat people up for being of a different color or religion does not entitle its members to disregard laws against assault.

        And this is why I don’t think it makes sense to “just focus on Stewart”. What she is reacting to matters. If she were campaigning against allowing kids into the schools if those kids go to church on Sundays, that would be intolerance, and reprehensible. If she’s campaigning against organizations which are designed and structured to promote bullying, though, I don’t really see the problem.

        A friend of mine used to get regularly dogpiled by groups of Christians who would do loving and thoughtful things like holding lighters up to him to show him what Hell was like, so they could gloat about how he deserved to go there. I am a really big fan of Jesus, but I have seen enough horrors perpetrated in His name to be really uncomfortable with some of the organized activities that are designed to create clique behavior and mob mentality in teenage Christians.

      • 31.2.6
        john george says:

        Peter- In 31.2.3, you said this-

        It is absolutely, positively, praying with the intent to be seen praying.

        How do you know with any certainty that this is the motive? I think you are just expressing your opinion of what the motive might be. Take a look at Jonah in Ninevah. I could claim that your use of scripture to squelch such “public prayer” is just another attempt to censor our freedom of religion. But, I cannot say with certainty that that is your motivation.

  • 32

    Wow, that’s creepy.

    I’m sort of a crazy old-school Christian, though, so I think when Jesus said not to go around praying ostentatiously, one of the things this meant was that we should not go around praying ostentatiously. I am aware that this probably makes me some sort of unscientific literalist who does not understand allegory.

    It is hard for me to put into words how upsetting I find it when people try to turn a personal path towards healing and righteousness into a weapon to be used against other people. If your message is so unpersuasive that you cannot persuade people by telling it to them without trickery, peer pressure, and bribes, go work on improving your presentation.

  • 33
    kiffi summa says:

    with reference to David Ludescher’s 31.2, and 31.2.4, comments it is not inhibiting anyone’s religious liberty by refusing to allow them to break existing law by foisting their personal religious beliefs on others in a destructive manner.

    • 33.1

      I feel I ought to point out: In a way, it is an inhibition. But then, we’ve always felt that there was such a thing as “that’s too far” on that topic. There exist religions which genuinely teach that, under certain circumstances, you have a moral obligation to kill people. We don’t generally let them do it.

      The right to swing your fist ends just short of my nose, and the same principle applies to other liberties. You can’t declare that, because your religion denies the notion of private property, it inhibits your religious freedom if we don’t let you take other people’s stuff. And you can’t declare that, because your religion teaches dominionist theology, we can’t prevent you from trying to drive members of other faiths into hiding or out of your community entirely. (Well, in both cases you can; you just won’t get very far with it.)

      • 33.1.1
        kiffi summa says:

        telling people they are ‘lesser’, because your religion says they are, IS “taking other people’s stuff”.

        Creating the notion of ‘otherness’ is the most destructive activity society engages in; believe what you want, don’t create a whole class group of “other”…

      • 33.1.2

        Excellent points. Exclusion and marginalization are really nasty things to do.

        And considering the way that the Jews and Samaritans got along (for a modern audience, imagine someone addressing the NAACP and preaching the parable of the “Good Klansman”), there is something terrifyingly broken about seeing this kind of us-and-them divisiveness portrayed as a Christian value.

      • 33.1.3
        john george says:

        Peter and Kiffi- And how are your comments not a marginalization and exclusion of those of us Christians with whom you disagree? At least you, Peter, have taken some of your time to sit down F2F with me and have a civil exchange over some of these topics. I feel privileged to have had that time with you.

      • 33.1.4
        kiffi summa says:

        John: Although I fervently disagree with principles that you have espoused on homosexuality, same-sex relationships, and the definition of marriage, it is just that a strongly held disagreement.

        Although I think your POV is wrong, and more so because it places a judgement on others, it is simply a matter of, in the end, being extremely saddened that the name of “Christian” is being usurped by one faction of Christianity that has its own particular set of beliefs… and that those beliefs would deny the right of their ‘ Christian’ heritage to others that were raised as christians, but believe differently… AND, more importantly judge other persons as lesser with regard to their personal lives as homosexuals, involvement with same-sex marriages , or even just a differing definition of what a marriage is.

        We have had so very many exchanges on these subjects of differing opinions, yours stemming from your seriously held religious convictions, I see no purpose in trying to change each other’s differing values.

        As to F2F meetings, you may recall that one time, in GBM …after having many online discussions … you tried to convince me to take a book to read, that might’ve in your mind justified your position, and maybe you thought might change mine.
        Again, I must repeat, you are able to hold any opinion you want about other persons’ behaviors, but I am an old person who has given a lot of thought to the opinions I hold, and I wish to spend my time productively: I did not see any productivity coming from being proselytized from a well known position.

        You seem to be taking that as an affront; it’s too bad you feel that way; it’s not meant as a personal affront.

      • 33.1.5
        john george says:

        Kiffi-
        My point here is marginalization and exclusion. You evidently don’t consider me worth your time to get to know, so that is your choice. Remember, my door is open to you any time you would desire to sit down over a cup of coffee, or tea, or even a glass of water.

      • 33.1.6
        kiffi summa says:

        John: you seem to have forgotten that you closed that “door” ,as a matter of fact slammed it in my face, when you said to me , on this site, that I should “get over it” because you were never going to agree with anything I said .

        So, I don’t see that as conducive to congenial coffee house conversation…

  • 34
    Griff Wigley says:

    There is a Prayer Walk for the Northfield School District today, 4-8 pm:

    By Maria KayLynn Olson and Kiersten-Kiwi Williams Bielenberg

    Schedule:
    4:00-4:25 Prairie Creek
    4:30-4:55 Arcadia
    5:00-5:25 Greenvale
    5:30-5:55 Sibley
    6:00-6:25 Bridgewater
    6:30-6:55 Middle School
    7:00-7:25 High School
    7:30-7:55 Longfellow/ALC
    8:00-8:25 St Dominic’s

    *You may come to as many or few as you wish! Feel free to carpool between schools with friends or family! All are welcome!

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