by Max Brantley
A parent in North Little Rock has registered a complaint about the North Little Rock High East Campus' advertising for City Fest this weekend, a program built around a visit from Luis Palau, an evangelist. The fest is described on the jump, including Palau's record in converting people to Christ.
City Fest is much more than an evangelism event. It's a year-long service project, too, in which many churches have enlisted to help schools, neighborhoods and the needy with repair and building projects and food drives and the like. But it's obviously a Christian witness project and the entertainment during the culminating weekend reflects that, with Christian musicians as well as Palau's appearances. It's a fine thing. But, the mother asks, should public schools be promoting events with overt religious components?
We wanted to ask the question of the school principal and the North Little Rock school superintendent. Neither has been willing to come to the phone. The unhappy parent says she did talk to the principal, who reportedly said the advertising seemed appropriate since City Fest volunteer work -- a school landscaping project -- had benefitted the school.
Which raises the obvious question: For the right donation or volunteer work, could somebody place Buddha or a Star of David or a Muslim or a Methodist symbol on the school grounds? Or is public school advertising open only to events backed by some Christian congregations?
UPDATE: Principal Lee Tackett says yes, if folks come over and improve the campus, she'll put their signs up. All you members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster call her up. See if you're welcome to swap some groundskeeping for a little free press.
Tackett and school district spokesperson Shara Brazear maintain, by the way, that because the signs don't have a Christian symbol on them, they're not promoting religion. Make way for Billy Graham. Promisekeepers. Etc.
Have you heard that tens of thousands of people will flood into Central Arkansas October 24-25 for CityFest with world evangelist Luis Palau? Some have described a Palau festival as the biggest party they've ever attended. It's a free, two-day event filled with live concerts, a children's park, community care area, skate park, food court, and much more.