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Press ReleaseReligious Freedom/Church-State
Deceptive "Anti-Violence" Program Targets Public School Students for Proselytizing

New York, NY, October 16, 2002 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is alerting public schools in six U.S. cities about a deceptive school assembly program that uses "stealth tactics" to lure middle and high school students to an unabashed evangelical Christian gathering.

Background on Joyce Meyer Ministries and "Rage Against Destruction"

"Rage Against Destruction" assemblies are scheduled to appear at middle and high schools in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Tampa, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia during the 2002-03 school year. The deceptive in-school assembly programs - billed as motivational anti-violence seminars for teens with music, dancing and giveaways - are presented to school administrators as a means to encourage students to reject violence. Yet organizers fail to disclose the full intent of the assemblies, which is to entice students to attend a second, off-school event dubbed "Firefest," which delivers a strongly Christian evangelical message. The organizers rarely disclose that the sponsor of the so-called "anti-violence program" is a Christian evangelical group, the Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Missouri, which has published materials admitting the program's overtly religious goals.

"We are strongly concerned that the evangelical Christian organizers of these in-school assemblies are deliberately deceiving school administrators, students, parents and the public by not disclosing the sponsor or the ultimate purpose, which is to proselytize public school students," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "These assemblies are one of the stealth tactics used by their organizers to lure unwitting teens to an unabashed Christian evangelical message."

ADL's alert to schools in New York and New Jersey recently prompted the cancellation of a Rage Against Destruction event at Teaneck High School, and led the General Counsel of the New York City Department of Education to issue a letter to organizers warning against using the in-school programs as a vehicle for proselytizing students. The New Jersey Department of Education has issued an advisory to all principals cautioning them that the programs could be "sectarian" in nature.

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.

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