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City Now Considering Stopping "Jesus Lunches"

Written By: Travis Buhler  |  Posted: Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Last month I wrote on the Middleton School District officials' desire to stop a lunch time Bible study called the "Jesus Lunch" in a nearby park. It is a park that the school claims is under their jurisdiction during school hours due to a lease made with the City. Since that time, the school has resolved their part of the issue by not renewing their lease on the same park and so ending any claim that school guidelines were being violated.

But certain people are not satisfied that the issue is over. As reported by Wisconsin Watchdog,

"Middleton city administrator Mike Davis isn't too sure.

"'It doesn't resolve the conflict in the community,' Davis said. 'It does resolve the issue over whether the school district had authority to enforce anti-proselytizing rules in the park. It does resolve that part of it. It doesn't resolve the conflict that we have among students, and those who favor the lunches and those who are opposed.'

"The anti-lunch crowd plans to continue protesting.

"'It doesn't resolve the contention or divisiveness at all,' said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF]. 'It is just a phony resolution.' Citing no evidence, she suggested the school district 'must have been getting threats' of lawsuits from the Jesus Lunch parents 'and succumbed to them.'"

Is conflict and divisiveness something that a school or a city administrator should solve? I would say no. Perhaps, if there has been violence between the two sides, then conflict resolution should be passed. But there has been no violence between the two groups. Over the last month the two opposing sides have peacefully gathered in the same park with no need for police action.

Yet student protesters, the FFRF, and the City Administrator have determined that conflict between students and within a community should be resolved. FFRF has an easy solution. The City should use the police to force the parents and students to stop the Bible study. So far, the City has not followed through with this advice.

The reason why is probably due to the natural, innate idea in most people's minds that the police should not stop peaceful gatherings. It seems unjust.

This idea is reflected in the Wisconsin Constitution's Declaration of Rights which says, "The right of the people peaceably to assemble… shall never be abridged."

The right to assemble, commonly called the freedom of association, assumes and requires division within a community. It goes with the history of America's recognition of this freedom. The revolutionary war was a civil war where one group of colonists fought against another. There was conflict and division; and the Crown's (and sometimes the revolutionaries') solution was to disband associations and assemblies. Our founding fathers therefore added protections against this action to the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

There has never been a time in human history where everyone in a state agreed with one another. In fact, if there appears on the surface to be total agreement among all citizens, it is likely because the government has forced all the dissenters into silence.

The notion that a community or a student body should be united can become dangerous when one side wants the government to stop the other. One should be wary when a protest sign like the one at a counter-protest last April reads, "Stop Dividing our School".

Administrator Davis will be considering whether police force should be used, saying, "The city council is going to review use of the park for the potential to reduce the conflict next school year. [N]othing's set in stone. There will be a review process, and until I know the results of that, we don't know how it will affect possible lunches in the park by the Jesus Lunch group next year."

If the Middleton City Council targets the organizers of this group and notifies them that they cannot use the city park due to too much conflict, this would be the equivalent of using the police to force the disbanding of a peaceable assembly. This sounds shocking, but the power to forbid assembly is based upon the power to use policemen with guns to enforce their decision should the parents and students ignore the City's decision.

The City Council should not only leave alone, but even praise a group of mothers and students who are gathering to hear the Bible. In fact, if anyone is causing conflict and violating the "peaceably to assemble" clause in the Wisconsin Constitution, it would be those calling on the government to forcibly end the Bible study.

Travis Buhler is the Managing Editor of the US Journal and the Eau Claire Journal and a regular Tuesday contributor to the 790WAYY Today morning show. Email:

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