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Published On: Wed, Apr 20th, 2016

Wisconsin moms battle school over ‘Jesus Lunch’ for students

School administrators in Middleton, Wisconsin have intensified their threats and intimidation of a group of mothers who host a weekly “Jesus Lunch” for students at a park adjacent to Middleton High School.

The video showing school officials confronting one of the moms in the park has now gone viral, revealing the shocking tactics of school officials. Check out the clip below.

“These ongoing attempts to suppress free speech by school officials are disgraceful,” said Phillip Stamman, an attorney representing the moms to Todd Starnes of Fox News. “These mothers devote hours each week to serving the students with free meals and a brief message about Jesus. They should not be bullied or harassed — but praised.”

photo by Gerd Altman via Pixabay

photo by Gerd Altman via Pixabay

Donald Johnson, the superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains district, was among the school officials who tried to order the parents from using the park, Stamman said.

The parents ignored school officials’ orders to turn away, according to Stamman. They parked along the street, walked into the park and set up the food for the lunch, anyway, he said.

“They coned up the parking lot, waited there and confronted my clients and told them to leave,” Stamman said. “(The parents) responded how I recommended. They walked right past them. The superintendent repeatedly tried to confront them. He was the first one. But they just moved on.”

“These women will not be intimidated,” he told Starnes. “They are wholeheartedly committed to serving the students a free meal while sharing a Christian message.”

Students at Middleton High School are permitted to eat lunch off campus. So go to McDonalds. Others go to Taco Bell. And some students eat at Fireman’s Park, a public park adjacent to the school campus.

In 2014, a group of moms started what would become known as the “Jesus Lunch.” They would prepared home-cooked meals for their children and conclude the lunch with an inspirational Christian message.

Over the years, the “Jesus Lunch” grew into a massive weekly event — with nearly 500 kids voluntarily attending.

“We believe that religious or political events do not have a place in our school or on our campus, except when sponsored by a student group in accordance with our rules, which require prior approval,” officials wrote in an email sent to parents on April 12.

The district accused the moms of violating all sorts of rules, especially in the area of food preparation. They implied the parents are putting their children in danger by hosting the weekly picnics.

“The policies in question include food handling, visitors to campus, and expectations around student organized events,” the administrators wrote. “We are in no way interested in opposing religious practice in otherwise legal circumstances.”

The district said parents are ignoring “food handling standards.”

“Food of any kind that is served to students must be approved by the school/district to ensure food safety, cleanliness and health,” they wrote. “In addition, many students are subject to food allergies, so additional protocols must be followed to safeguard students with these conditions.”

Principal Stephen Plank even accused the moms of luring students to the park with promises of free food in exchange for a Christian message.

“Many students have conveyed to us their concern about a group offering free food to incentivize participation in a religious event on campus,” he told News8000.com. “The result of which has a divisive impact on our learning community.”

The principal suggested that some students loathe the event so much they become hysterical.

“There are some students that when they know this day is coming, they will leave school early,” he told the news organization. “We have some students that staff will find sitting in the hallway crying.”

Beth Williams, one of the organizers of the student lunches, issued a statement defending her group’s right to use the park.

“Fireman’s Park – a public park owned by the city of Middleton – remains accessible to everyone in the public for the purposes of assembly and free speech,” the statement said, according to Madison.com. “By law, the lease agreement between the city and the school district of Middleton does not privatize the park.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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