Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Organizer moves Christian workshop from Kansas House

August 15, 2012, 5:26 p.m. Updated August 15, 2012, 5:59 p.m.


— The organizer of a training workshop for dozens of evangelical pastors and church leaders said Wednesday that he has moved the event out of the Kansas House because of the expected number participants, but he rejected a national group’s charge that it would improperly mix government with religion.

Organizer Dave DePue said the three-day “transforming revival” workshop will be held this week at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, a few blocks from the Statehouse, because 180 people want to participate, more than the floor of the House chamber can accommodate comfortably.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based group Americans for Separation of Church and State, had criticized the event, saying he has never heard of a working legislative chamber in a statehouse being used to promote Christianity or any religion.

“This is almost like turning the seat of government over temporarily to a religious group,” said Lynn, an ordained United Church of Christ minister. “It’s startling to me to even hear about it.”

DePue said the event won’t have a political agenda but focus on helping pastors and other church leaders strengthen community work in tough economic times. He is state director for Capitol Commission, a Raleigh, N.C., nonprofit group that puts pastors in Statehouses to advise policymakers.

“I wouldn’t last a day up here if I got political,” said DePue, who frequently visits the Statehouse. “The whole purpose is to help families, churches and communities.”

Organizers of the event in the House chamber describe it as a “beginner’s course” for Christians interested in transforming their community through a spiritual revival. Workshop sessions are scheduled for Thursday and Friday evening and all day Saturday, with participants paying $100 per person or $190 per couple.

Legislators have allowed Christian prayer meetings at the Statehouse regularly in recent years, and Gov. Sam Brownback has been a visible participant in National Day of Prayer events the past two years. DePue said Brownback was set to welcome the workshop participants to Topeka.

Also, the state’s Roman Catholic bishops sponsored a rally in June against a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of birth control, drawing thousands of participants. The Statehouse occasionally has been the site of weddings and, in at least one case in recent years, the Senate had a memorial in its chamber for a member who’d died.

But the Legislature’s staff couldn’t remember a case in at least 15 years of an event like the workshop being scheduled for one of the two chambers.

Such workshops are a program of The Sentinel Group, of Lynwood, Wash. On its website, the group calls itself a research agency “helping the Church pray knowledgeably for end-time global evangelization” and promoting “genuine revival and societal transformation.” Its president is listed as teaching the Kansas workshop.

The Legislature’s policies allow nonprofit groups to use committee rooms and the House or Senate chamber if at least one lawmaker sponsors the event. The policies don’t preclude events with religious themes but say a group generally can’t limit participation based on race, ethnicity, religion or gender, and the event is supposed to educate participants about the legislative process.

DePue sought the use of the House chamber in May — because, he said, the event is drawing people from across the state. In considering whether to schedule an event in the House or Senate chamber, the Legislature’s staff asks its top leaders whether any of them object, giving them a few days to respond. In the House, none objected to the workshop when notified by letter in July.

The event’s legislative sponsor is House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, who this year sponsored an unsuccessful proposal to set aside space in the Statehouse for meditation or prayer. He said the event is little different than those sponsored at the Statehouse by other outside groups and will give participants a chance to learn about state government.

“This is a group of people who want to use the House, like a lot of independent groups,” he said. “What it is not is a religious meeting. They may pray, but we pray.”


blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

How in the h*** did The State even consider allowing this in the first place; it appears that this attempt was part of Kansas' drift to the loony right. I'm sure Sam was behind this as an extension of his C-Street existence and experiences. Additionally, by allowing the use of State property for this event, the State was depriving legtimate businesses in Topeka from renting their spaces to this group. I thought the GOP'ers were all for promoting increasing business to the private community. Finally common sense prvailed.

bradh 5 years, 3 months ago

Publicly owned, unused space was offered to any who wanted to use it. This group took advantage, up until the time they outgrew the venue. I find the outrage expressed and cries of separation of church and state by so many to be laughable - using a building for two different events (government and a seminar in this case) held at different times doesn't mean the two events are comingled.

As for Blind, you act like some decision was made to kick them out of the building. That wasn't the case. The event became too popular and they opted to move the event.

Sylvie Rueff 5 years, 3 months ago

Religious prayer needs to be excluded from any place paid for wholly by tax payer moneys. If religious groups want to use public (government) venues, they need to pay the normal rental plus a portion of the annual upkeep based on the number of hours the religious organization uses the venue, since they would pay no taxes for its support otherwise; since they already have venues which are charged no taxes that can be use for religious purposes. We are all already paying enough for religious organizations to use community infrastructure without paying any taxes in support.

Mike1949 5 years, 3 months ago

Totally 200% agree with you sylviejr! I do know this has been going on though, and this isn't the first time people are protesting the use of tax dollars to pay for electricity, janitorial cleanup, etc.

fan4kufootball 5 years, 3 months ago

And it doesnt matter that churches are used all the time for voting locations? Also - remember that members of religious organizations also pay taxes.

paulveer 5 years, 3 months ago

And you know what God would say, I bet.

paulveer 5 years, 3 months ago

Anyone who purport to speak for God is a fool, a teller of lies, or both. Those who believe them are mostly just fools.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

"DePue said the event won’t have a political agenda but focus on helping pastors and other church leaders strengthen community work in tough economic times. He is state director for Capitol Commission, a Raleigh, N.C., nonprofit group that puts pastors in Statehouses to advise policymakers. “I wouldn’t last a day up here if I got political,” said DePue, who frequently visits the Statehouse.

I'm not sure why he thinks putting pastors in Statehouses to advise policymakers is not political.

Especially when this is their mission statement: "Capitol Commission’s mission is to reach the Capitol community for Christ, one person at a time, to disciple them, and to prepare them for a lifetime of ministry, wherever God chooses to place them."

Enlightenment 5 years, 3 months ago

It seems as though the politicians feel it's ok to have and promote religion in the State House; whatever happen to separation of church and state?

Could you imagine the uproar if a Pro-choice organization asked to use the State House under the guise of informing women how government works?

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

If they were promoting all religions, that would be one thing, but they're only promoting Christianity.

Can you imagine the uproar if a non-Christian religious group, such as Muslims (non-radical) or Buddists asked to use KS government space for a training workshop, or Buddists, etc.?

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

Only if they have transvaginal ultrasounds to make sure they are not pregnant and might get an abortion.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr Richards, that is a plan I can get behind. If I wasn't already my favorite write-in candidate for govenor, you would have my vote.

Acey 5 years, 3 months ago

"If they were promoting all religions, that would be one thing, but they're only promoting Christianity."

I disagree. "Promoting all religions" is still promoting RELIGION. It's unconstitutional. How could it NOT be promotion of religion, if you are going to suggest that even more religious groups use Kansas state property in this way?

Look, you are already discriminating against certain varieties of Islam. You surely know that THAT ain't right.

We need not only freedom OF religion, we need freedom FROM religion!

msezdsit 5 years, 3 months ago

Did they clear this with god? Oh forgot, they own god.

Enlightenment 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh no, they don't own god, they are divinely guided, which makes them divinely right (sarcasm).

dabbindan 5 years, 3 months ago

welcome to brownbackistan. gonna feel like a very loooong stretch before kansans wise up and the pendulum swings back somewhere near the center.

riverdrifter 5 years, 3 months ago

ACLU should be on this like a bass on a june bug. They probably already are.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

As I understand it, the ACLU generally, if not always, responds to complaints rather than going out and looking for things. They probably wouldn'thave been aware, anymore than we were, until it was brought to our attention.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 3 months ago

Don't take this seriously. They're just spoiling for a squabble.

Our church met in a land grant college auditorium for a couple of years after the church burnt down.
I don't remember anyone suffering long-term consequences, especially since the congregation cleaned the auditorium before and after, saving janitor service at least for one day a week. Seemed like a reasonable quid pro quo.

And...though there's a lot of repetition of "separation of church and state" the Constitution says the Federal Government may neither establish an official religion nor interfere in the free practice of religion. That's the law, the other is a phrase used in the discussion leading up to the writing of said document.

Barry Lynn creeps me out.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I agree that Dave DePue and the Capitol Commission are spoiling for a squabble.

This meeting is not just churchmembers getting together to learn more about how the Kansas government works. Have you perused their website? Their goal is to evangelize and convert. This is not a role that government should be involved in.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

At $100 a head to attend, they're looking to rake in some cash, too.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

When one is doing what God is telling them to do, it is required that you break human laws.

Funny how inconsistent God seems to be.

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

A little bit different using the auditorium of a land grant college and the Chamber of the State Government, a governmental body that is supposed to recognize the "separation issue'. This is especially evident in Kansas now, where the drift of the GOP and the dogma of the governor are so up front. One group was/and maybe still uses the auditorium of the Lawrence Arts Center, and one was using the auditorium of SW Junior High. No problem with these examples as long as other groups would be granted the same access.

chootspa 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh good. That means the space in the House is free for the Muslim Spiritual Revival training session. They'll be cool hosting that one, right?

Tom McCune 5 years, 3 months ago

Disgusting. Vile. Abuse of office. Abuse of process. Abuse of Christianity.

Carmalee Winebrinner 5 years, 3 months ago

Unless you aren't the right color, or you love the wrong gender, or you are an unmarried woman with a child, or a woman wanting out of an abusive marriage, or you simply don't believe in their version of a higher power....

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

"Televangelist Pat Robertson on Thursday cautioned his viewers to think twice before adopting disadvantaged children that had been sexually abused or deprived of food because they could grow up “weird.

During Thursday’s edition of The 700 Club co-host Kristi Watts read a letter from a woman who wanted to know why men stopped dating her when they learned that she had adopted three daughters from three different countries.

“Can I answer?” Watts asked. “I was going to say because they’re dogs. … That’s just wrong on every level.”

“No, it’s not wrong,” Robertson disagreed. “A man doesn’t want to take on the United Nations, and this woman’s got all these various children and blended family. What is it?”

The TV preacher then told a story about his “dear friend” who had adopted a son with brain damage and the boy “grew up weird.”

“You just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child,” he explained. “What kind of sexual abuse, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, etc., etc., etc.”

“So, you’re not a dog because you don’t want to take on that responsibility,” Robertson added. “You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems.”

voevoda 5 years, 3 months ago

The real question, SageonPage, is whether they will grant equal respect and consideration for persons who do not accept and will not accept "God's grace through His son Jesus."
And it certainly is the case that non-Christians are equally generous in befriending persons in need.

JackMcKee 5 years, 3 months ago

“It’s startling to me to even hear about it.”

Welcome to Kansas. We do things that would amaze you.

bad_dog 5 years, 3 months ago

"The passage you shared refers to giving only, not public meetings"

And praying. In public. No limitations were cited permitting hypocrisy to occur while praying or giving if done exclusively during meetings. Just call it group hypocrisy if you prefer.

Never mind.

globehead 5 years, 3 months ago

They took everything with them. Even the turbans.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

"DePue said the event won’t have a political agenda but focus on helping pastors and other church leaders strengthen community work in tough economic times."

Could be like a evangelical preacher I knew once. He pressured his members who were on welfare into tithing their welfare checks, while he drove a fancy car.

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