Each Tuesday during their lunch break, hundreds of high school kids attend a parent-led luncheon---off campus.
The school district is attempting to shut it down because it includes a couple of Christian worship choruses and some inspirational Christian discussion.
The school says the lunch---which has become known as the "Jesus Lunch," does not properly follow district rules.
But it's off campus---at the park. How can the school be "establishing a religion or endorsing one" when its not on school property---and parents of students are supervising it?
As politicians often say when breaking promises to the voters: "It's complicated--you wouldn't understand."
Yesterday New York held its primary election. This is a New York Times live link to the election results.
I'll be talking more about this on my live radio program this morning.
In 2014, a small group of Christian parents began meeting with their children in a park near the school---providing their children a home-cooked lunch---and a time of inspirational Christian conversation.
The high school in Middleton, Wisconsin allows students to go off campus for lunch. Many do.
The Christian kids loved the food, the inspiration and spending a few minutes with their parents.
The small weekly meetings--held only in the fall and spring due to weather, became interesting to other kids who wanted to share in the experience---and probably the free lunch.
Now the "Jesus Lunch," as it has become known, has morphed into a group of up to 500 kids gathering for lunch each Tuesday.
Parent Beth Williams told Todd Starnes, "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'."
Yes, it has a "Christian" element.
A few weeks ago, Superintendent Donald Johnson and Principal Stephen Plank called the off-campus, parent supervised, voluntarily attended lunches "divisive" and demanded they be discontinued.
"It's complicated."---Sure it is.
School officials are saying emphatically and often "it's not about religion."
They say it's about "policy expectations" and this appears to be an event organized by parents without school approval.
The parents pushed back---so have the kids.
Now the school is saying their concerns are related to food handling and visitors on campus, although the Jesus Lunches are not on campus, and the adults are parents of students.
The school district claims their primary concern is for the students---food safety, cleanliness, health, and "many students suffer from food allergies, so there must be protocols to protect the students and safeguard the students."
If the school is genuinely concerned about safeguarding students, why are agents from Planned Parenthood and a half dozen homosexual activist groups allowed to troll the halls and classrooms of the school pushing abortion and gender confusion, while assisting in the development of curriculum?
The parents refused to cancel the lunches.
Steve Plank once again asked the parents to stop---they said no, and continued.
The school district says they have pleaded with the parents to stop and have even told them they would provide an alternative opportunity for the parents and students, but the parents refuse.
The parents say the school has not reached out to them in the way they claim, and, in fact, have not even asked about how the lunch started and what they actually do at the lunch.
The school officials have now taken the position that because they lease the public park for school activities, it is essentially "school property" and therefore cannot be used for this kind of event.
But the park is open to the public, and the parents are the public.
Enter attorney Phillip Stamman.
Stamman, representing the parents, says, "They are spending all their time and effort to show love to these kids and now they are being attacked by a superintendent and principal---trying to intimidate them."
He says, "The school is going after them because they are spreading a religious message. They are upset because they are sharing Christianity."
The school is maintaining that "technically" the public park is school property because of their lease---so there can be no "Jesus," because "technically," the moms and kids are on school property.
The moms maintain that does not make the public property off limits, and that does not eliminate anyone from practicing free speech or the right to assemble.
The school district says this has become "very divisive"---the moms say it isn't divisive at all, it's simply a matter of the moms and their kids wanting to have a "Jesus Lunch," and it happens that a lot of other kids want that as well.
Chief of Police Charles Foulke of the Middleton Police Department put out a statement on Facebook Friday saying uniformed police will be on hand to keep the peace going forward.
Keep the peace. This has been peaceful---singing worship songs, inspirational conversation and food.
The Chief says it has now become a regional and national issue and that may change things.
The Chief says, "Middleton Police Officers will be nearby, not to interfere in any way with anyone's right of assembly or speech, but we will intervene if things get contentious."
I have been told that things did not get contentious at the Jesus Lunch yesterday---nor has it ever gotten "contentious."
As I read this episode, I wondered how this narrative would have played out had this been several counselors from Planned Parenthood explaining to high school girls their right to an abortion without parental notification---while having lunch in the park, or advocates from various homosexual rights organizations reaching out to kids who are confused about their sexuality or their gender.
Then I remembered, it would be unnecessary to meet in a park, because they are already in the classroom---why go to the park on lunch break?
Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful.