Anoka-Hennepin Christian club accused of harassing non-religious students

Categories: Religion
Daniel Buschow.jpg
Daniel Buschow was accused of having influence on Christian student groups.
On the heels of the ground-breaking Anoka-Hennepin settlement with six bullied students, a parent is complaining of a new harassment issue in the district.

Melissa Thompson, the mother of a Blaine High School student, says she's been complaining that members of an after-school Christian group called "Catalyst" have been pressuring her child to join for months. Thompson says she identifies as Christian, but her child does not.

At first, the school principal and district administrators seemed to agree with Thompson that the group was overstepping its boundaries and took steps to limit its activity. That was met by a backlash from Christian students and their parents.

Melissa Thompson.jpg
Melissa Thompson speaking before the school board.
Thompson -- who asked that City Pages withhold her child's name to avoid further harassment in school -- first contacted a teacher about the issue via email in September 2011. In the email, Thompson said her child had been asked repeatedly to join Catalyst by the same student and that the student said "he'd spend his last day trying to make them believe in Jesus by showing up at their homes, or contacting them through facebook or getting their cell phone numbers."

"This student's comments go far beyond a simple acknowledgment of his faith or an answer to a question (both would be within his religious rights)," Thompson wrote. "He needs to be approached and asked to stop."

The teacher wrote back saying that she'd met with the school's administration over the incident. Nevertheless, Thompson said the Catalyst student continued to ask her child to the meetings almost every Tuesday.

While Thompson is the only parent coming forward publicly to complain about the group, another student posted a YouTube "rant" about Catalyst. The student says he's been "personally harassed by this group," told "countless times" to attend the meetings, and that he's "going to burn in hell for my sins." He characterizes the group as a "Christian conversion organization."

Seven months after her initial complaint, Thompson sent another email to Blaine High School principal John Phelps, saying she was "absolutely shocked" by her own research into Catalyst.

Catalyst Square Logo.jpeg
According to Catalyst's website, the organization started in January last year as a Bible study group at Blaine, then expanded into five schools within Anoka-Hennepin. It identifies as "a campus movement led by high school students" and provides extensive training materials on how to start a Catalyst club in school. They produce some pretty high-quality videos, and give out doughnuts at their meetings before class.

Thompson became concerned after seeing that the website domain is actually owned by Daniel Buschow, the founder of an organization called Allies Ministry. According to Allies's website, its mission is to "build partnerships to reach and mentor the next generation by reaching every student, on every campus, in every community with the simple, yet life-changing message of knowing God in a personal way." Thompson provided the district with some of the literature from the Catalyst website and expressed concern that Buschow -- not students -- is actually leading the clubs, producing the literature, and paying for posters, food, and other activities. If this is true, the clubs would be in violation of the Equal Access Act, which permits religious clubs at school so long as they are "student-initiated" and that no one in the community "direct, conduct, control, or regularly attend meetings."

Allies does host a fundraising page for Catalyst on Razoo, and seems to claim it again here.

On April 4, Thompson received a letter back from the district.

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19 comments
sickofbigots
sickofbigots

I don't care if it's all student-driven; pressuring other students to join ANY religion is attempted spiritual rape.

Guest
Guest

Tell a teen-ager what you want him to do and be and chances are good you'll see the exact opposite.  It's their job to be contrary and rebellious.  Even if it means siding with Christians. Dividing up into us against them is another part of growing up.  Unfortunately some people never do and go through life trying to force their views upon others. I suppose as long as the distract, er, district, has given up trying to stay neutral all this sparing and chaos will continue. Both sides are equally disruptive.

Guybrarian
Guybrarian

This is a complicated issue.  "Intelligent Design" proponents have USED students to call for the teaching of "alternative theories to Evolution".  Now ministries are USING students in Schools to brainwash people?  Why can't these student groups meet in a church?  They don't belong in schools. 

Mil
Mil

How did this jump from the right of students to freedom of religion to correlating LBGT hate with Christianity? Isn't that harrassment? How sad that those who want freedom to do what they want  to badmouth without  complete information in these comments  those who want to practice their faith.  Why is This group not considered student led? Because it has quality web site , etc? Kids these days are excellent with media.  Let's give them more credit.My kids are constantly harrassed in school , they get asked often by friends to join speech club, choir, sports, etc.  All one has to say is no.  I know these kids personally. They are not condeming those who don't attend.  They have religious rights to believe what they discuss in their own group . That is a basic right, just like other   religious groups.The fact this mother has been following this group  for months, shows her personal agenda, I doubt her child feels harrassed. And by the way, why is the name of her  minor withheld while the Christian minor;'s name is publicized.  Double standards and hatred are coming from those who feel so tolerant.

StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

Thankfully we got Publicly Lead prayer out of our schools. It may be legal to have Christians organize into groups wihtin our schools, although apparently legal I wish to hell it wasn't. Nothing good will come of this, nothing. 

guest
guest

Mil,    The whole anti-gat argument has always been seeded in one groups claim that accepting gay anything is against their religious beliefs, so that is the connection between the two. Where it becomes a problem from a legal standpoint is when this "one religgious group" then demands (as is the case in this district) that their "beliefs" be put above the "rights" of others.  Relgious freedom allows for the "practice" of ones faith, not proselytizing or condemning others. 

Guest
Guest

In a district where LGBT suicides are the highest in the country? Why is this not surprising?

38
38

Is there something in the water up in those northern suburbs? These people are lunatics. 

Ronnie Dixon
Ronnie Dixon

I am glad that the author of this article quoted my video. But yes, Catalyst is a publicly funded Christian conversion organization that have harassed many students to join their group, or suffer supernatural consequences (myself being one of those harassed). They want you to put grades, work, and other activities on the back-burner (the manuals on the Catalyst website say that "we already have enough [insert several groups]". And they use their standing in the schools to evangelized, which is a gross violation of the Separation of Church and State. And the Allies organization being intertwined shows that this wall is further crumbling down on this issue, as well as the Equal Access law. 

RobinMavis_AHGET
RobinMavis_AHGET

Why doesn't a seminary trained pastor provide some guidance to these kids?

guest
guest

Because that would also be illegal.

truckload_bear
truckload_bear

Christian group gets into a school, harasses students then flips out when called on it. How novel.

GrungeJunkie405
GrungeJunkie405

This is tragic to see. I completely agree that the LGBT hate and bullying is directly related to the intense problems with running a missionary-based, aggressive, cult-like mentality. Also, threatening students with eternal damnation in an effort to scare them into joining said cult is nothing short of deplorable. To even try and say this is not led by Bushkow is proof that they are in direct and blatant violation of the Equal Access and the Constitution

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

What pushes someone to pressure someone else into a group like this?

Do they believe that what they are doing isn't legit, so the more people that join must give it validation of some kind?  Do they have so little willpower and belief in themselves that they have to be told what to do to feel like they're doing the "right" thing?  Do they really believe that because someone else doesn't believe what they do, that they will, in fact, go to hell and suffer eternal damnation, or is it more like a middle school fund raiser, where the more people they sign up the better chance they get that inflatable raft in the afterlife?

Achilles
Achilles

This is effed up. Surprised this large of a movement is happening so close to my home. If you check out their website and information, it is only WAY TOO OBVIOUS that this is not the work of students. Sure they may lead their groups at their schools, but they are just following the information given to them through their website, etc. And all of it is just dogmatic BS. Their evangelist propaganda WILL incite bad behavior. And that is not a matter of IF, but WHEN.

Alison Kopp
Alison Kopp

Catalyst is 100% student-led. However you approach the content within their work, the manuals have been written by students, the videos produced by students. In fact, their ability to establish all of these materials is nothing short of remarkable--remarkable work by remarkable students. Regardless of all other criticisms of Catalyst, this one is easily refuted. If it is possible to get into contact with Jean or another student leader (as I have), it would be very easy to see the dedication of those who constructed the materials. They are not outside adults influencing impressionable youth; they are youth driven by what they see as truth and with the time and resources to provide training to others. There is nothing wrong with this. Dogmatic or not, the materials on the Catalyst website are entirely made by students.

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

Everybody loves a good cult once in a while...right?

T_bone_30
T_bone_30

These people are sick small minded fools. This kind of crap is going to get worse and worse and people realize what a crock of shit religion is and the fundies get more and more desperate

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