ADL Praises NYC Schools for "Setting a Precedent" for Dealing with Evangelical Assemblies
New York, NY, October 16, 2002 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today praised the New York City Department of Education for addressing concerns about an in-school assembly program aimed at attracting students to an evangelical Christian message.
The Department of Education has notified organizers of Rage Against Destruction that their in-school concert assembly cannot be used to proselytize students. In the past, the group has used the flashy "anti-violence"-themed events to attract students to an off-campus religious gathering, dubbed "Firefest," where proselytizing occurs. The evangelical Christian group, Joyce Meyer Ministries, is the sponsor of both events. The group's Firefest evangelical event is scheduled to take place in the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan on October 20.
"We are pleased that the New York City Schools have made clear to the organizers of Rage Against Destruction that public schools cannot be used as a vehicle for proselytizing students," said Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director. "New York City is setting a precedent for school districts across the country who might be confronted with the stealth tactics used by this group."
In a letter to the presenters of Rage Against Destruction, New York City Schools General Counsel Chad Vignola warned, "... you may not proselytize during the assemblies nor may you in any way use the assemblies as a vehicle to induce students to attend Firefest or other religious concerts or meetings." The letter warns that, "Failure to abide by this condition to your appearance in our schools, will prohibit you (Rage Against Destruction) from being permitted to make future presentations in the public schools."
ADL has raised similar concerns in New Jersey, where a Rage Against Destruction program at Teaneck High School was cancelled recently after school officials were alerted to the program's religious underpinnings. The sponsoring evangelical Christian group, Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Missouri, uses stealth tactics to lure middle and high school students to an unabashed evangelical Christian gathering. The ministry group has published materials admitting the program's overtly religious goals.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.