First the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and downtown business owners like Doug Simons of Enstrom Candies told city residents they needed to pay an extra sales tax to fund an event center downtown. People panned the idea and voted it down by a huge margin. A common criticism was, “A tax to build an event center? But what about our crumbling schools?” Then the chamber, Simons and CMU proposed waving a magic wand and changing the names of North Avenue to “University Boulevard,” and 12th Street to “Maverick Way,” saying this will be really great. People again panned the idea for the cost and inconvenience. A widely-expressed sentiment about the proposed name change has been ”Change the name of North Avenue? But what about our crumbling schools?”
There is no doubt left on the matter of prayer at School District 51 graduation ceremonies: School-sponsored prayers are not permitted at District 51 graduation ceremonies.
Some parents this year objected to prayers being included in Palisade High Schools’ graduation ceremony, and rightly so.
It violated federal law, and school district policy.
Republican House Representative Scott Tipton, who represents Colorado’s western slope, voted “NO” on a measure to assure that newborn babies are covered with health insurance immediately after birth for up to one year to give parents time to verify their baby’s citizenship status.
The City of Grand Junction owns a number of large land parcels around the valley that are designated as parks, but that are little more than vacant lots unused by the public.
In its ad in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced it opposes HB-1001, “The Parental Involvement in K-12th Grade Education Act,” a family-friendly bill that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer workers 18 hours of unpaid leave per school year to attend their kids’ academic events, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings related to dropout prevention, attendance, special education services, truancy, discipline issues and the like. HB-1001 allows for exemptions in case a business is having an emergency and needs all of its employees, or if an employee’s absence would leave a business unable to operate. The unpaid leave time could not exceed six hours in any one month, and employees would have to request the leave a minimum of a week before it is needed. The bill passed out of the House Education committee on February 6 on a 7-5 vote, and went to the full House, where is passed on the third reading with a 37-28 vote. Western slope House Representatives Dan Thurlow and Yeulin Willett both sided with the Chamber and voted against the measure, making these two legislators family-unfriendly as well. Every single House member who voted against this act was Republican. Every legislator voting for it was a Democrat.
June Fellhauer is back, once again taking advantage of School District 51’s “PeachJar” literature distribution system to plug her $99 video evangelism series to girls 11 years and up.
Fellhauer is kind of like Grand Junction’s own Shelly Donahue, but without the plastic bags of full of spaghetti and waffles, and titillating talk about masturbation. And unlike Donahue, Fellhauer apparently preaches only to girls, not boys, at least when she preaching for money.
Several days ago Fellhauer sent out a flier to D-51 families promoting another free sales-pitch event, this one called “Becoming Love,” aimed at girls 11 and up. The purpose of the event is to recruit kids’ families to pony up $99 for their daughters to view Fellhauer’s online, four-week video series in which she teaches biblical myths to girls with the primary message that women are subservient to men rather than qualified, able individuals in their own right. Fellhauer warns girls not strike out on their own, and tells girls if they remain helpers underneath the “cover” of their men, the men will “lift them up,” and they will get their power that way.
Graff Dairy, a longtime fixture in town at 581 29 Road, has gotten a complete makeover and is now a fantastic place to stop to get your espresso and ice cream fix.
Graff Dairy 2.0 is clean, spacious and bright, with tables and umbrellas on a nice front lawn where you can sit to eat your ice cream. It also now has a very welcome more sophisticated edge that this town really needs. For example, they offer free water flavored with chunks of fresh watermelon and sprigs of rosemary — a nice flair. Some local stories have reported that their ice cream is the same as it used to be, but it really seems much better than that. The old Graff ice cream seemed little better than ice milk, but the new Graff ice cream seems richer and more flavorful, like it has a higher butterfat content than it used to.
On Monday, August 15, 2016 Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) will award a $4,325 college scholarship to Cidney Fisk, the newly-graduated Delta High School student who exposed the pervasive Christian proselytizing in Delta County’s public schools. WCAF will hand over the check to Cidney at noon in front of Delta High School in Delta, Colorado.
Cidney is an award-winning, A+ student who excelled in speech and debate, but was punished for her opinions about the school.
The scholarship is WCAF’s largest to date. The group gave a $1,000 gift to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation in July of 2013 to help with construction of the new downtown Central Library, and in spring, 2016 donated $100 to Delta Middle School to help with minor repairs in the girls’ and boys’ restrooms in the school’s cafeteria.
Cidney graduated from Delta High School last May and was outspoken about the school bringing in Christian-based speaker Shelly Donahue, who gave an abstinence-only-before-marriage talk to students. This talk was nominally secular, but contained crucifixes in all the slides and Donahue told the students that having premarital sex “puts
them further from God.” This talk the only “sex ed” most DHS students ever received from the school district, but it contained none of the state-required information about contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS or other information the state says public schools must give students if districts choose to teach sex education.
This 30 minute interview on KVNF Radio with Cidney Fisk and her parents about their experience with the Delta County School District was broadcast July 19, 2016. Host Ali Lightfoot interviews Cidney, her parents and Delta County School District officials about the religious speakers the school routinely brings in, other incidents of proselytizing occurring within the district, and the retribution Cidney faced from her teachers and counselors after voicing her opinions about that and what Cidney perceived as the district’s misguided financial priorities: Click this link to listen to the interview.
A June 27, 2016 article on this site discussed how Mesa County turns away almost half of eligible applicants who go to the local Department of Human Services to apply for food stamps. This unused assistance leaves millions of dollars on the table that not only could help more needy county residents buy food for their families, but that would also boost the local economy by pumping millions more dollars of revenue into local grocery stores.
Camp Quest has finally come to Colorado!
Camp Quest is a traditional sleep away summer camp geared towards children of secular families. The camp experience employs activities geared toward developing critical thinking, ethics, scientific inquiry, philosophy and comparative religions.
The Delta County School District is in serious need of help.
The recent exposure of the extent of Christian proselytizing in the Delta County school system has not just raised eyebrows locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally. It has encouraged Delta area residents to come forward with their own personal stories of proselytizing and discrimination in Delta public schools and their workplaces, and how it has affected their lives.
News about the pending distribution of atheist and Satanic literature in Delta County schools April 1 is encouraging more students, parents and even teachers to come forward with information about what they say is a persistent pattern of state/church violations, religiously-based discrimination and even outright bigotry, harassment and demeaning of atheist and non-believing students occurring within the Delta County School system.
Parents from Delta County contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) Tuesday morning (3/22/16) to alert the group to what they feel is pervasive Christian proselytizing occurring in Delta County Schools. They say they and their child have suffered to a great extent from the school district’s persistent embrace of religious promotion.
The Delta County School District (DCSD) has approved the distribution of atheistic, secular and Satanic literature to middle and high school students throughout Delta County on April 1, 2016, and will carry out the literature distribution on behalf of the groups who have applied to do it.
A locally-produced brochure about atheism called “It’s Okay to Not Believe in God” (pdf), the Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities and other literature critical of the Bible and Christianity will be distributed to Delta Middle School (DMS) students if the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) gets their way.
Three groups — the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers and the Satanic Temple — have all submitted literature to Delta public schools for approval for distribution in an effort to get Delta County Schools to stop distributing Gideon Bibles to students during class time.
Target Stores apologized to a customer who noticed some rather phallic Star Wars toys in her local store.
A woman named Joni Jones from Indiana sent a note to Target last week on the retail chain’s Facebook page along with photos she took of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” pool toys she found for sale in the store.
Yet another incident of inappropriate proselytizing was reported in a District 51 school late last month. The parties spent the last few weeks working to resolve it. An update was just recently available. Following is a description of what happened.
On December 31, the father of a Lincoln Orchard Mesa (LOM) Elementary student contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), a western slope group that advocates for separation of church and state, about an inappropriate incident of proselytizing involving his child that occurred at LOM on November 20. The student is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.
According to the parent and child, here is what took place:
LOM students were taking their regularly-scheduled lunch break in their school’s lunchroom on Friday, November 20, 2016. The student at the center of the incident was sitting at a table chatting with friends in the lunchroom, as was usual for kids at lunch. During the conversation, the student shared with her friends that she did not believe in God. A friend who heard the comment immediately went to a nearby lunchroom assistant named Jody Payne and told her that her friend did not believe in God. Ms. Payne went over to the table and told the student, in front of her friends, that “God created everything” that she “needed to, and should believe in God.”
A teacher reported to Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) that she accidentally stumbled into a Bible study group being held at Grand Junction High School on Tuesday, January 12 during lunchtime in an Advanced Placement (AP) English classroom. The teacher who walked in on the group was looking for a microwave oven to heat up lunch.
According to the teacher who walked in on the prayer group, the English teacher whose room it was in was present at the study session and sat, without interacting, while a younger man was talking. The identity of the younger man who was speaking was unclear, and it is unknown if he was a teacher, an older student, or from off campus. The Bible study session was being held in a room in the northern-most block of classrooms to the east of the main building, in the part of school that holds language arts and some science class rooms.
Teachers Cannot Lead, Organize, or Participate in Prayer with Students
The U.S. Department of Education Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, states that under the law, teachers cannot lead or organize prayers, or participate with students in prayers on school grounds during school time.