Christian group is 'luring' students with free pizza at lunch, some California parents say

Laura S. Diaz, The Fresno Bee on

Published in Religious News

FRESNO, Calif. — Some Clovis parents say a Christian group is trying to indoctrinate their children during lunchtime, lured to pray and talk about Jesus Christ by being offered free pizza.

Three parents with children attending Reyburn Intermediate and Clovis East High schools said their children were offered free pizza to go to the lecture hall in groups of three to five during their lunch period. Upon arrival, parents said a representative from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meets with students. After praying and hearing about Christianity, parents said students then receive their free pizza in yellow boxes.

“I feel that they’re doing wrong,” one parent with a student at Clovis East told The Fresno Bee. “They’re basically luring in kids that are under 18, that are still trying to find themselves and are still trying to explore.”

The parents who spoke to The Fresno Bee asked to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation against them or their children. They also said they were not notified via email, text, permission slip or asked for their consent for the FCA to approach their children.

“Back in my days when I was a high school student, to join any kind of club I needed my parents to sign a permission slip for me to attend,” one Clovis East parent said. “I am upset that they actually do have that kind of club there without parents’ consent.”

Some parents also pointed out that they do not practice Christianity at home, but they are religious and believe in different doctrines. They questioned whether their children’s school allows other religions to conduct their activities on school grounds, and wondered why their underage children were being exposed to a religion they don’t practice at home in this manner.


Another parent, who has a student at Reyburn Intermediate, said their child learned about the free pizza at the lecture hall through the morning’s school-wide announcements. The parent said the child recalled an adult — not a student — leading an opening prayer and then talking about accepting God, repenting their sins and the relationship between Jesus and athletes. This parent also said their child wasn’t allowed to use their phone during the session.

“They’re using pizza as a way to get children in,” one of the parents said.

Clovis Unified’s spokesperson Kelly Avants said the FCA can meet with students during school hours through its affiliated student-led club on campus. She said that there are 40-plus student clubs at Clovis East, including the fishing, gay-straight alliance and Sikh clubs. Avants said the FCA is operating in accordance with the district’s student clubs policies.

All Clovis Unified clubs must have faculty advisers, she said, who are responsible for supervising students and observing that school rules are followed. Faculty advisers can also request information about club activities be added to school announcements.


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