Recently a parent, approached Earl Dobsin, the community relations director of the the Rockford, IL public school 205 district, in regards to the endorsment of the Salvation Army by the district to allow an official partnership, as well as encourage and reward students to give to this Christian organization. She asked them to sever the partnership and instead sponsor the Rock River Valley Food Pantry instead. She was directed by Earl Dobsin that the district refuses and I should take the matter up on the legal system.
The following is an open letter from the National Atheist Party to the school district’s board members and administration.
April 6, 2012
Open Letter to RPS 205 board and administration
501 7th Street
Rockford, IL 61104
Re: Rockford Public Schools 205 partnership with the Salvation Army
Dear administration and board members of RPS 205,
As an educator, a parent and the Vice President of Outreach for the National Atheist Party, I find it an ethical imperative to ensure public schools uphold the values of principled civic involvement, equitable access to quality education, and the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state: to include prohibition of any religion or superstition impressed upon students either through instruction or tacit endorsement.
Unfortunately, the partnership of Rockford public School district 205 with the Salvation Army fails on all three counts. The Salvation Army’s mission statement asserts that it is an “evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” However, discrimination and exclusion are most certainly at issue. Through continued endorsement and partnership with this church this Rockford public school district is violating the separation of church and state, and those students, parents and alumni who wish to engage in charitable, community-building activities are excluded. When offered one of many secular options available, a concerned parent was told that the only option was to challenge the matter legally. Surely, upon reasonable examination of the facts, the constitutional violation of a public institution partnering with and sending donations to an evangelical church will be evident to the board and administration of RPS 205.
Of further concern to the National Atheist Party and any citizen, who values civic equity and humanity, are the consistently anti-gay actions and principles of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has stood against the rights of homosexuals all over the world. Whatever the personal beliefs of an individual, public schools are NOT the place to teach or endorse the limitation of civil rights nor the exclusion of others.
The National Atheist Party would certainly not denigrate the good that the Salvation Army has accomplished through aid to the poor and many other programs and services, nor would we deny the right of this church, any other religious institution, or any group of individuals who shared principles or beliefs to organize and take action within the bounds of the law. However, the brazen defiance of the separation of church and state currently supported by RPS 205 and, by extension, the tacit support of the repugnant, exclusionary anti-gay policies and activism of the Salvation Army must end.
The National Atheist Party and its Illinois members ask that you honor the Constitution, civic equality, the separation of church and state, and your students by choosing a charitable affiliation that does not endorse or support a church or any organization that has a religious mission.
Vice President of Outreach
National Atheist Party
If you are interested in learning more or attending theupcoming school board meeting on Tuesday April 1oth, vist the Illinois/Wisconsin Stateline Atheist Society.
However, the NAP urges you to let the board and administration of this misguided school district know that we demand they abide by the law and act with decency by contacting them by e-mail or by phone.
Voice your opinion to:
Superintendent Robert Willis (815) 966-3100 firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Fromm, Executive Assistant Superintendent’s Office (815) 966-3100 email@example.com
Roberta Edwards, Executive Coordinator to the Superintendent & The Board of Education (815) 966-3101 firstname.lastname@example.org
The School Board
Harmon Mitchell (815) 399-0710 email@example.com
Jude Makulec (815) 633-6818 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Jackson (815) 375-0175 email@example.com
Tim Rollins (815) 987-8910 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenneth Scrivano (815) 871-6683 email@example.com
Ronnell Moore (815) 871-6811 firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Powers (815) 874-3446 email@example.com
Christina Ostergard (815) 298-3266 firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug Burton (815) 378-1709 email@example.com
Richard Walsh (815) 966-3100 firstname.lastname@example.org
Venita Hervey (815) 968-7682 email@example.com
Matthew Johnson-Doyle (815) 398-6322 ext. 14 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President of Outreach
National Atheist Party