We love getting mail from our mate Geoff Westlake, from OAC Ministries in WA.
Geoff is a “professional” evangelist who’s full time job it is to go into public schools and proselytise to your kids.
In response to us putting his video “Missing Link” on the FIRIS Youtube channel, he felt the need to explain himself.
See the original comment here.
I don’t normally use the word “evangelism” in real life. This clip is embedded in a CHURCH leaders’ site – as evidenced by the in-house references to “APEPT,” “Ephesians,” and “the links below.” Likewise the term “evangelist” is used in-house for those who know what it means. It means “bringer of the news.” It does NOT imply proselytising, coercing, or manipulating, as secular culture would have it. That misconception is why it is often left out.
So 1) this vid isn’t about schools. And 2) schools have nothing to fear from our presentations anyway. We are very careful about educational ethics, family autonomy, and the vulnerability of kids. We do not ask for decisions in schools. We simply present good information about Christianity and related themes, in GOOD ways.
- We don’t make absolute faith-statements, preferring to reference who says what
- We educate, always respecting hearers’ freedom to differ from us
- We arm students with knowledge, skills & values that are valuable whatever their beliefs are. Whatever they decide in future will be that much better informed.
- We present in ways that we would be happy for those of other faiths to present to our kids.
Anti-religious lobbies like FIRIS and DOGS need to recognise that groups like us can and do function differently in different settings. They say that since we may offer moments of decision in some NON-SCHOOL settings, therefore we must do that in SCHOOL settings also. That is a lie, offending our professional ethics. We know what the lines are in schools, and stay well within them. Our accreditation with state education departments is our firm commitment to do so.
So don’t be alarmed by the E-word. We present Good News in GOOD ways.
And see our response to Geoff here.
Geoff, we welcome your participation on our website, however we respectfully disagree with you, and furthermore find your actions and your intentions prime evidence of why we need to reform this system. I personally don’t want my kids anywhere near your evangelising self, and your desire to spread your understanding of the gospel in my school – and the fact that you have the endorsement of the government to do this – which in turn puts me in the position of having to invoke a kind of “conscientious objection” status makes me furious.
You are directly imposing on my right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of my neighbourhood because you wish to evangelise my children.
Your comments on this site demonstrate why you are not qualified to instruct children.
First of all, your attack on the secular principle of public education as an “American” concept shows your ignorance of history. Australia led the world in creating public education – and it did this over the objections of the major churches. You cherry pick history for your own religious motivations. Furthermore your efforts to educate make no attempt to fairly present the controversies that existed in history, nor do you make any effort to explain to people that Christians have used scripture to argue both sides of major social conflicts.
You are a propagandist not an educator.
This in itself is not a crime, nor in anyway outside of your warrant as a free citizen in a secular democracy. I wouldn’t even bother to argue with you, just as I don’t bust into private homes, or into places of worship and debate with people who have not asked me to debate. However, we have an argument because you seek public sanction, public funding and a form of executive authority to peddle your wares – and this puts us in a position of having to choose between allowing this to happen, and objecting to it.
We have chosen to object.
I personally resent what you and your allies have done to my kids, and my kids friends – in pursuit of your religious ideology. You also do no tell the truth, and furthermore what you call “the truth” is something that is demonstrably untrue.
Lastly, I know professional religious educators, I am friends with some of this nation’s leading scholars of religious education, and you sir, are no religious educator.
You are a mountebank and a fraud … and above all, an evangelist for your religion. Not even the members of your religion agree with you on your doctrines, and while I defend your right to recruit people into your religion, you may not commandeer our schools, in whole or in part, for these ends.