As published on Crooks & Liars on 3/29/2017: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/03/devos-sneaks-religion-public-schools
If anyone was wondering whether Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, would try to inject public schools with religion, question no more. On Monday, DeVos held a closed door meeting with Pamela Bondi and Tony Dungy. That would be Pam Bondi, the current Florida attorney general of Trump University bribery fame. Tony Dungy, for those who don’t follow the NFL, is the former Colts coach.
DeVos’ staff failed, perhaps intentionally, to list the organization they were representing. So, off on an internet search I went. Turns out that Dungy is the spokesman of All Pro Dad, a non-profit organization that partners NFL players and coaches with schools. All Pro Dad holds monthly meetings in participating schools for fathers and their children. According to their website, they advertise activities and discussions for these meetings. Add NFL players and breakfast by Chik-fil-A, and kids go nuts for it.
But then that’s the whole point right? The goal is to get kids to go home with flyers advertising the All Pro Dad events and tell their dads that they could meet an NFL player all while having father daughter/son time. What could be wrong with that?
Truth about All Pro Dad
All Pro Dad is actually a subsidiary of Family First. Family First is owned by Mark and Susan Merrill. If you can stomach all the pictures of them kissing on their website, you will find that the sole purpose of Family First is to: “…provide parenting, marriage and relational truth that helps people love their family well and gives them greater hope for the future.” In plain English, that translates to “trying to find a way to make you a Christian.”
Family First used to be named Florida Family Council and was affiliated with the American Family Association, which has been labeled as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Merrill and his followers are sure there’s a gay agenda afoot to recruit children into becoming homosexuals.
Florida Family Council began by being demonstrably anti-gay. In 1995, they even went so far as to protest Disney’s domestic partner benefits program stating: “We strongly disapprove of your inclusion and endorsement of a lifestyle that is unhealthy, unnatural and unworthy of special treatment.” After the opinions of millions of Americans changed towards gays, Florida Family Council changed their name to Family First and took a more subversive tactic. They no longer vocalized their homophobic tendencies, and choose instead to covertly turn people into bigots. In their minds, the best way to stop the gays was to have their own Christian agenda in your kid’s school.
The death of separation of church and state.
It was then Florida governor Jeb Bush who advanced the agenda of Family First through allowing All Pro Dad into Florida’s public schools in 2008. He literally stated: “…that all Florida public schools were to host a Christian-based program designed to increase father’s participation in their children’s lives.” Jeb also allowed Family First to accept donations by issuing a Florida license plate with their logo. Florida residents can give to this religious organization by going to their government run DMV website and purchasing these plates.
Even the Florida Department of Education promotes All Pro Dad and has links on its government website. Family First, through All Pro Dad, uses school property and equipment for these monthly functions. Meetings are announced by sending home flyers with kids and by the schools’ calendars on their websites like this one. Breakfast is provided by Chik-fil-A, a well known supporter of any and all anti-gay organizations.
Notice there is no mention of the group’s true purpose. Like cigarette companies used a cartoon camel to get kids to smoke, All Pro Dad uses the NFL. As the Free Republic stated, All Pro Dad:
“…combines a biblical foundation with the draw of popular athletes to promote the belief that ‘the father is the head of the household’ and that men should rely on God to help them be better parents…It also encourages Bible Reading.”
All Pro Dad currently boasts partnerships in 45 states with 1367 schools. Now it seems the program is getting support from the federal Department of Education and Pam Bondi. Check here to see if your kid’s school is promoting All Pro Dad. Be sure to contact your local school boards and legislators to demand religion stay out of public schools, and don’t forget to call your local ACLU chapter to file a complaint.