Movement grows in response to extreme revisions to state’s sex ed code
“People do not know what’s being taught to our children in schools.”
– Pastor Maury Evans, Calvary Chapel East Anaheim
Next POK Conference:
Santa Barbara, August 10, 6-9 p.m.
Since our founding in 2016, Church United has helped to mobilize pastors to speak on a variety of cultural-biblical issues, like sanctity of life, immigration, racism, parental rights, and sexual orientation. But in the words of attorney Mark Schneider, California Assembly Bill 329 “has hit a nerve.”
The so-called California Healthy Youth Act has stirred up a parental outcry throughout the state because of the graphic nature of the curricula developed as a result of the law and approved by the California Board of Education just last month for statewide usage. Not only is the content inappropriate, with materials children beginning in kindergarten, it is at times vulgar and pornographic. Incensed parents have shown up at school board meetings and district headquarters statewide demanding officials stop sexualizing their children.
That’s why Church United has begun Protect Our Kids conferences (POK), a new initiative designed to help pastors across the state mobilize their people in order to push back against the curricula. Schneider is spearheading the project for Church United, and in partnership with Informed Parents of California.
“AB 329 is something unique,” Schneider said. “It’s a different animal because it’s a direct assault on our children. That’s different. People have gotten angry because now it’s not consenting adults making decisions that are harmful to their personal lives and the culture. Now they are going directly against innocent children all the way down to kindergarten. Once parents hear about the material they become incensed. They are crying for help to know what to do, how to combat this.”
TED Talk-like Format to Inform Parents
So, beginning in March, Church United pulled together a motivated steering committee to develop Protect Our Kids conferences. In just a matter of weeks they developed the format, publicized the gatherings and held three functions in Southern California. We are planning to hold conferences in each of the state’s regions over the next 18 months.
Gheorghe Rosca, a bi-vocational worship pastor at New Hope Church in Placentia, is a member of the POK team and has brought his concerns to several school boards in his community.
“One of the things that we struggled with was how do we take this message to all of California?” Pastor Gheorghe said. “We were trying to pursue different avenues to get the message out as quickly as possible.”
The conference emerged as a viable platform. Its format resembles TED Talks. It features a historical overview of public education; explains the context of the progressive Comprehensive Sex Education movement and the forces behind it; highlights the specifics on AB 329 and what it means for California families; and offers a review of the curricula specifics just adopted by the state.
“That’s where parents get to see the evidence,” Pastor Gheorghe said, adding that the conference includes a Q&A session with a California attorney and medical professionals who are able to address questions about the sensitive nature of the curricula.
The final segment includes a “What Can You Do?” discussion that provides parents with options on how to fight back, including the feasibility of homeschooling, private education, registering voters, and coordinating public school sit-outs with churches across the state with a goal of taking out one million children from schools.
“We really want to get parents to take their kids out of public school because we’ve looked at every avenue of how to solve this problem and the fastest way to solve it is to remove our kids and defund the public school system,” Gheorghe said.
Momentum Growing Quickly
The first two Our Kids conferences were held at churches. Calvary Chapel East Anaheim drew over 600 adults and Reliance Church in Temecula over 800 adults; parents brought their children who attended childcare or a Bible lesson during the adult-only content conference. Over 140 in Anaheim and over 200 children in Temecula.
Tim Thompson, pastor of 412 Church Murrieta, is also a member of the Church United team and has voiced his concerns at school board meetings and in one-on-one meetings with district officials. He said he is encouraged by the parental response.
“It tells me they are seeking the truth,” Pastor Tim said. “I can guarantee you, when it comes to the truth about the framework resulting from AB 329, it is at these events where they are going to find it. A vast majority of school board members and district administrators haven’t spent the amount of time we have combing through the hundreds of pages of framework.”
Despite the quick growth of the movement, Pastor Tim said the momentum doesn’t surprise him.
“I have seen God’s hand on this since the day I first heard of AB 329,” Pastor Tim said. “It is quite clear God is on the move and Christians are starting to wake up.”
The attendance figures have not only been impressive, but are also showing a clear pattern, according to Pastor Gheorghe.
“This is an answer to prayer for me,” he said. “One of the things we’ve seen is when a conference is spearheaded and sponsored by a church—where the lead pastor really supports this—we have the best amount of turnout.”
Pastor Gheorghe said the committee’s goal is to get pastors to serve as host locations for the conferences.
“It’s about facilitating the people at their church and from there on out members are going to do the rest,” he said, adding that after each of the conferences, thousands of memberships requests were submitted to the Facebook page for Informed Parents of California.
“Parents who are joining the group are now able to start banding together in their school district or their county,” Pastor Gheorghe said.
Partnering with Informed Parents of America
Informed Parents of California formed last year and has already developed a Facebook network of nearly 31,000 members, most of them joining this year. A video link posted after one of the Protect Our Kids conferences generated 8,500 hits in just three days.
“It told us we have touched a nerve here,” Schneider said of the conference response. “The news media is staring to show up to these conferences and we hope to schedule them all over the state of California.”
It’s a welcome relief for an attorney who has spent about a dozen years leading a biblical citizenship group at his church, tracking California legislation, and encouraging Christians, particularly pastors, to speak out on cultural issues impacting families. He said he’s grateful to Church United for providing an outlet for like-minded pastors to expand their networks.
“I’ve thought for years now what we really needed to do is to mobilize our church body, to bring pastors together for a common cause, for cultural change to advance the biblical worldview,” Schneider said.
It is the pastors, he stressed, that have the influence needed to push back against a progressive agenda that is systematically breaking down families.
“Pastors have been more or less silent and inactively challenging our cultural wrongs and our cultural sins,” Schneider said. “I think that silence has, in large part, helped lead to the situation we are in today. If things are going to change, it’s going to be the Christian community and the conservative community who are going to lead the charge to finally challenge what’s been going on and turning back the tide.”
AB 329, Schneider said, has become a catalyst for pastors who, for the most part, have been content focusing on the immediate needs of their flock.
“There’s a certain comfort in that,” he said. “You are in the walls of your congregation. You get to preach every Sunday. It’s kind of a comfortable life here in the United States.
“But I think they are realizing now that, ‘If things keep going the way that are, I won’t be able to do church the way I’ve always done it my entire life. They are going to start putting limits on what I can say and what I preach and they are already calling it hate speech.’”
Like several others on the POK team, Schneider attended one of our Washington D.C. Awakening Tours and was motivated to build on that foundation.
“It encourages people, it fires them up but equally as important is what do we do when we go back to our home congregations?” he asked.
Church United’s network, Schneider added, will be critical as the team presents Protect Our Kid conferences across the state.
“It’s been such a crying need and Church United stepped up and made this happen,” Schneider said. “It’s just wonderful. It’s going to be crucial to our success going forward. I hope the model extends not only in California but nationally. … You can’t mobilize people until they have knowledge. People perish without knowledge.”
Helping Busy Parents Get the Facts
Steering team member Maury Evans, a retired prosecutor who serves as an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel East Anaheim, said he’s “heartbroken for children” and what they are being exposed to in a place that was once considered a safety zone.
“All of the cultural norms we’ve had for decades, it’s all being changed,” he said. “People do not know what’s being taught to our children in schools. They need to know that before they can voice their opinion one way or the other.”
Evans said he also feels for parents who are “so busy just trying to make a living and keeping up with what’s going on in society that when something like this emerges, they don’t have time to learn about it or even know about it.”
The Protect Our Kids conferences, though, have helped to ease some of his discouragement.
“It gives me hope when I hear of some pastors stepping up and getting involved,” he said. “My prayer is that every pastor in the state will step up and get involved.”
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