School Supplies In Exchange For Access To Jesus

A cash-strapped elementary school in Lakeland, FL, has turned to the local church to help out. Steve Comparato, the principal of Combee Elementary School, worried at how he was going to provide essential supplies for his students when his budget was cut by a third this year, was delighted when the First Baptist Church at the Mall “adopted” his school.

The result? The church filled the school’s resource room with $5000 worth of supplies; it also catered spaghetti dinners at evening school events, bought sneakers for needy kids, and provided math and English tutors.

And in exchange? “We have inroads into public schools that we had not had before,” says Pastor Dave McClamma. “By befriending the students, we have the opportunity to visit homes to talk to parents about Jesus Christ.”

McClamma added, “At Christmas, the school connected the church with parents who said they wouldn’t mind being visited at home by First Baptist. The church brought gifts, food, and the gospel. Of about 30 families visited over two weekends in December, thirteen ‘came to the Lord.’”

Also according to McClamma, adopting Combee goes far beyond providing resources like school supplies. “The purpose is to show them the church cares, and that there is hope, and hope is found in Jesus Christ.”

“If they want to come in and help, who am I to say no?” asks Steve Comparato, the principal.

As I wrote here last week
, there is a budget crisis in education going on right now. Public schools around the nation are desperate to come up with innovative ways to make money: the San Diego Unified School District is considering plastering its middle- and high-school gyms with corporate advertising, and thus bring in $30,000 to $50,000 a year per school; Manatee County, FL, just received a $20,000 check from a local cucumber grower with the idea of sponsoring and naming an elementary school engineering program; bake sales just don’t cut it anymore.

These may be pacts with the devil, but what about a pact with Jesus? There are plenty of people of faith who help those in need because they care about them deeply. There is no problem with churches, or any other faith-based groups, offering to help by donating funds or supplies, as long as that is all they are doing.

But I believe that if religious groups only give that help with the intention of having unimpeded access to the kids and their families, then the school would be better off without them. Conditional charity is not altruism; it’s more like exchange of goods for allegiance.

Many people of faith feel the same way. “I have great concerns about churches who see public schools as, well, what shall I say, church membership,” said Harry Parrott, a retired Baptist minister who runs a local chapter of American United for Separation of Church and State.

It’s not in the interests of either side to allow religious groups open access to public school children. And by the way, whatever happened to separation of church and state?

Creative Commons - robynneblume


Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon6 years ago

I don't see any deception in how this particular church has operated with the school. I don't see an issue with the school connecting the church with families who would accept a visit from the church OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, so long as the school asks parents if they want to be connected, and provide the church with only the names of parents who welcome the contact. This does skate close to the line, but this particular church seems to have behaved ethically. Unfortunately, I doubt all church groups would behave as well and for that reason I think the door to this kind of thing would best be left closed. I am not Christian, and I have worked in the public school system.

Adam G.
Adam G7 years ago

it is truly amazing how low xians, especially the religious reich, will stoop and how deceitful they can be.

I seem to remember something from the bible.. what was it again? oh yes. now I remember.. wasn't there a commandment about "bearing false witness"? wasn't it a warning not to lie?

but that obviously doesn't count if you're "bearing false witness for gawd" because god REALLY NEEDS you to lie for him.

in fact, if you take a good, hard look at the religious reich, it seems that lies, half truths and deception are EXACTLY what god wants people to do!

Natasha L.
Natasha L7 years ago

Sorry, been away for a while.

@ Mary K "Pam W - you were the one spouting off what i would say at bible class."

Actually love that was me. The one who said that you will go on and on (and on and on) until people either get frustrated and snarky, or just stop talking to you, both of which you will call a win for you, because either means (to you) that our arguments weren't 'good' enough to shut you up. The fact that you don't give a tiny piece of crap about the veracity of your arguments is the real issue. The fact that you are determined to 'prove' how great christianity is by completely ignoring what others are saying just shows how 'good' a christian you are. If I had time, I would have exactly the same argument with you that I had with my mum-in-law on Friday. But I don't love you like I love her so I'll give you the short version.
Your arguments carry no logical weight. Your choice of words shows you to be less christian than me, an out and out atheist. Your continued baiting and badgering shows that you have the maturity of my 9 year old.

Without *Empirical Evidence* NOT *Anecdotal Evidence* (look them up) you will never convince a scientist of the existence of any creator god. I see no need for there to be one, I feel no need for the comfort of 'heaven' and no fear of 'hell'. I live this life for what I can give and get out of it, not for rewards in another life. If you don't like what I say, you're a christian, forgive me.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

We pagans demand equal access to teach the kids the old ways and the old Gods too.

Botyfltiger E.
Past Member 7 years ago

Gina H, green stars to you! As well as to Agnes!

But what do I see here? Mary K constantly abusing the TOS and COC, a real Christian would have stopped arguing about this by now, but Mary K seems to love the confrontation and is thriving on it. Why is that Mary, have you only been taught through your good book to belittle and bash your fellow human beings?

Mary K do you accept that people are homosexual? Do you accept other faiths and religions, what about non-religious people, faith-free-thinkers, Atheist and agnostics, do you accept them Mary?

Meghan H.
meghan horan7 years ago

Can we not simply help each other without an ideology? Helping each other is a natural state - it is OUR natural state. It's what we do .... naturally! A few years ago, I was living in a rather large city and i got involved with a group who were feeding homeless people downtown - these people were often drug and alcohol addicted and many were selling sex. We fed them baked potatoes with sour cream and chives and cheese. We were a group of people who put our food and time together to feed some down and out folks who had probably suffered some hardships in their lives that put them on the street. Our offerings of baked potatoes and the fixings did not come with a price-taq. We did not offer our service in the name of some religion.

Meghan H.
meghan horan7 years ago

Gina H: I agree completely with your comment and I think you are hitting some wisdom with your comment that, "Religion has no place in public education because so many factions just can NOT tolerate each other let alone anyone different". I agree that religion and belief need to be kept out of public education but I also believe that they should be kept out of life in general .... especially if we REALLY want to SEE life ... A wiseman once said that, "To see God, one has to remove ones images of God. To see God,one must not 'know' what God is." And that is why I agree with you Gina H. Because imposing one's faith, opinion, belief, religion, etc .... onto another person or group of people, is creating the problems we are having on our little planet now. Different religious groups do some wonderful charity, BUT ..... they all seem to want an exchange .... charitable and seemingly "caring", provisions of education, health-care, food ... for you membership in our belief-system, our religion.

Agnes Mina
Agnes Mina7 years ago

I keep responding because I find that those who say that this church isn't doing anything wrong are reading the article selectively (perhaps I should also realize that if they are so selective then they won't bother coming back to check for comments), but also because I simply can't believe how you keep purposefully misunderstanding our posts and going and making claims that we don't like babies (i.e. your "miracle"). Your behavior reminds me of gogreen18's "A Christian's Guide to Atheists" vid on youtube.

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers7 years ago

It is wonderful that the local church is helping the school. The church is not making it a condition that they will be allowed to preach in these schools. The parents can decide to follow Christ freely. the church wont withdraw its help if they dont. Let us not get cynical about everything. Likewise the salvos help out their communities and who is complaining.Actually the teachings of Christ are a wonderful, positive message of love.

mary k.
mary k7 years ago

Agnes, you may have roaches in your cabinets, pets maybe, but I don't have any in mine. you can have the last word, I have a feeling that is why you keep responding to anyone who disagrees with you. maybe we'll agree on something else on another thread.