Parents, students concerned after tickets to religious event given out at assemblies

Some parents and students are concerned after tickets were handed out at a school assembly for an Evangelical event and believe it was a form of religious recruitment at a public school.

PEARLAND, Texas - A series of school assemblies at several Pearland ISD schools was supposed to be uplifting for students.

But some say they crossed the line.

Everyone (students, teachers and the school district) agrees the assemblies themselves were not religious in nature and that they mostly contained positive uplifting messages.

But it was what was handed out at the end that some believe was a lure to an evangelical crusade.

"We were given these little pizza night tickets, that's what they were calling them," said Poonum Mehta, a senior at Dawson High School.

Mehta says the ticket was given out at the end of a school assembly, which she says was part magic show, part motivational.

Senior Joan Yu got a ticket too.

"The ticket was one of the first things they said: It was something pushed really hard for," Yu said. "They had teachers passing them out. They had everyone passing them out. It was a big deal."

The tickets touted free pizza and a chance to win an iPhone.

But if you look more closely, it also says "Go Tell" on the side, as in "Go Tell Ministries," which is run by Rick Gage, a well-known evangelist.

"Dawson High School is a family, that's what he was saying and I really like that message," said Dr John Kelly, superintendent of Pearland ISD.

He helped bring the assemblies to the district in light of two recent suicides at Pearland High School.

Dr. Kelly doesn't believe what happened the other day is a form of recruitment.

"I can't speak for the intention of the tickets and the people who made them but we have a policy on the distribution of non-school literature."

The district says if an organization like the YMCA can pass out literature, so can a group like this.

"We certainly hope that every parent whose child decided to take a ticket will take the same steps to look on the website and decide if this is something for them," Dr. Kelly added.

Students and parents though question that.

"I don't want any random person enticing my children to do things with other churches," said one mother, who didn't want to reveal her identity. "I want them to be able to make that choice freely."

Mehta said: "I don't think it's something that they should be handing out or encouraging students to go to in school I don't see how that's appropriate."

Rick Gage declined to comment at the crusade when KHOU 11 News went Friday night in Webster.

To be clear, he wasn't at the assemblies but people from his team were.

Alvin and Dickinson ISD tell KHOU 11 they too had these assemblies this week but so far no complaints from parents or students.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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