School Bible Group connected to outside Ministry – with a mission to change “every campus for Christ;” students instructed not to give up until all join, causing student harassment.
By Melanie Nathan, April 23, 2012
The Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota may find itself, yet again, at the center of a storm and this one tackles possible violations of the Equal Access Act. A suspect ministry, Allies Ministries, has embedded itself into the halls, onto poster boards, and into the classrooms, using students as relentless tools of evangelicalism, to recruit fellow students into a self described movement called “Catalyst Coalition,” with a mission to reach “every student in every classroom for the mission and message of Jesus.”
Catalyst Coalition is touted as a student led Bible Study group utilizing school facilities, which on the face of it is perfectly legal. It operates in at least 5 schools in the Anoka Hennepin School District, all linked through a centralized database visible in a Google document ( see below Footnote 2 – PDF # 7) which can be readily accessed by anyone, revealing the schools, names and telephone numbers of students who have joined.
Upon investigation I encountered reasons to doubt Catalyst’s legitimacy to operate as a group on the school campuses.
In order for Catalyst Coalition to meet in the schools legally, it must comply with the Equal Access Act, which means it has to be “student led and controlled and cannot be connected to persons in the community that are not students with regard to every facet including “directing, conducting, controlling, or regularly attending meetings.”
Under The Equal Access Act, a United States federal law passed in 1984 to compel federally-funded secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs, Catalyst could well be a perfectly legitimate and well intended group, but only if the group is true to the guidelines provided by the Act.
This law was lobbied for by religious groups who wanted to ensure students the right to conduct Bible study programs before, during lunch and after school. By the same token any group has equal access to school facilities for the purpose of posters, meetings and all that it takes to run a student led and controlled program. Any group can form, as long as they abide the guidelines.
In the case of Anoka-Hennepin we found evidence pointing to Catalyst in fact being led and controlled by an outside organization and individual. This possible violation of the Equal Access law is exacerbated by the fact that reports have been received of students complaining that those who have refused to join the group have been hounded repeatedly by Catalyst student leaders on campuses.
The Catalyst Coalition group, describes itself as a “movement” which has as a mission to bring Jesus into every classroom on every campus.
Catalyst is not fully student run and student controlled and there is plenty of blatant proof to this effect. It is helmed by an outside ministry, Allies Ministries, under the leadership of Daniel Buschow, and it is run more than a bible study group, but rather as a mission with a crusade to recruit, unremittingly, until each and every student joins. Not only is this in flagrant breach of the Equal Access Act, but the school group is being used as a tool of abuse; as a conduit for the bullying and harassment of those students who refuse to join in the mission.
We have proof that at least three students have complained to school principals asserting they have been harassed by Catalyst members for refusing to join the group. I have chosen to keep the names of those students confidential for fear of further harassment.
Breach of the Equal Access Law in Anoka Hennepin Schools:-
Catalyst Coalition is run as a direct offshoot from a tax exempt ministry, “Allies Ministries Inc,” which is operated by its president, Daniel Buschow, as described on a tax return which he signed in 2009 (see Footnote 2 PDF Picture #2) and who also happens to be the registered owner of the website www.catalystcoalition.org; the proof of registration can be seen in the Footnote 2 -PDF #8.
Catalyst website is accessed through a link on the Allies Ministries’ website, the latter seeming to do no other visible business of a ministry, at all, other than to provide a web link to Catalyst and another group, for the single purpose of recruiting students into the campus led programs to recruit more students.
It is clear Daniel Buschow promotes and supports the Catalyst Coalition on these campuses in the Anoka- Hennepin schools. It is Buschow’s goal, so clearly stated in the Catalyst online manual and repeated several times in online videos and social media comments to recruit students to Jesus via a campus recruitment method. (Footnote 2 screenshots on PDF #6)
The purpose of Allies Ministries is clearly described on its website at http://www.alliesnet.com/ a screen shot appears on Footnote 2 PDF Picture #3.
The Allies Ministries webpage states:
“Allies is a voice for youth and their leaders …with 34 years of youth ministry experience and 22 years as the executive director of Allies, Dan Buschow is a leader in the world of youth ministry.
Here is what we are doing to reach our mission:
“Catalyst – We are developing young leaders who are leading student lead campus movements at our schools. These young leaders are challenging, teaching and training their peers to make Christ the CATALYST in their lives and schools.”
This statement then links to the Catalyst website which is registered online to Daniel Buschow – www.catalystcoalition.org. Footnote 2 See PDF Picture #8.
Catalyst speaks very clearly on its website through a 51 page manual which is directed specifically to the students from schools who sign up as campus leaders. It’s mission and goal is to recruit and bring to Christ “every student on every campus.” It explicitly sets out the teachings and mission, and sets about imploring the young students to go out and recruit others, to ‘save their lost souls,’ directly stating that this can be achieved in every school and the manual concludes on the 51st page where Catalyst is described as a movement “in a word cloud message which asserts:-
“You need to start a Catalyst Group to change your campus for Christ – start a movement at your school reach every student in every class for the mission and message of Jesus.” Footnote 2 See PDF Screenshot #1
I have yet to find any other business that could feasibly relate to the bare portrayal of expenses on the tax return as can be seen from footnote 1 below. Also the Allies Ministries’ website does not seem to have other business operations and is in essence sparse but for its direction of one to the Catalyst website (and one other similar program) which is the site that the youth utilize to obtain their instruction to become campus preachers.
In sum, Daniel Buschow, president of Allies Ministries, owns the website www.Catalystcoalition.org . The students in the schools are recruited via the on-line manual on this Catalyst site to recruit and preach according to its mission statement. Allies Ministries Inc; is the tax exempt managing ministry which connects back to Buschow. The student starts a group in the school and provides the names to an external administrator who places them into the Google roster, according to which school they attend, and this in effect is maintained as a central Catalyst database. Footnote 2 – See PDF Screenshot #7.
The Google Roster:
A single Google document is maintained outside of the schools and lists the names of each school involved with Catalyst Coalition. The group has listed the names, schools and phone numbers of students who have joined through the recruitment by student leaders inside the schools. One wonders what reason there could possibly be for an outside interest to maintain these records, and whether parents of these students are aware that anyone can access this information. Tthe motive becomes clear from a You Tube Video by Buschow where he states that his intention is to join all schools and all students into the movement as “catalysts for Christ.” Footnote 2 – See PDF Screenshot #7.
The fact that the participating schools and student names are housed in one external document, points to a centralized external control and involvement, in flagrant disregard for the Equal Access law guidelines. To labor the point, why would a Blaine students need to be on the same roster as a student from Coon Rapids, or Andover, or Anoka, unless this was maintained by someone outside the school with an interest in maintaining it?
Catalyst Coalition takes its advertizing into the school halls, by filming in the halls and setting up the mission message to the target viewer, as can be seen from this particular advertisement taken inside Blaine High School. The production is sophisticated and one wonders who produced, directed, filmed, edited and paid for this advertisement. If evidence were subpoenaed it would be easy to determine. Footnote 2- See PDF screenshot # 6.
Daniel Buschow has been seen and photographed off campus mixing with Catalyst Coalition. There seems to be no boundary between the outside and the students inside the school, utilizing the same name- “Catalyst.” This connection is further confirmed on social media such as the Facebook page of Daniel Buschow, which I have preserved with screenshots. See the photograph of Blaine and other students in the Footnote 2 -PDF photo # 5.
Catalyst’s presence on campus is not in dispute, but what has yet to be made public, until now, is that an outside ministry is running the show in five different schools.
The posters on the school walls, the video advertisements, photographs, social media and the students attestations could all be perfectly legitimate. But they are not doing this as a self led group and they are harassing other students to join. While group meetings before the start of school on the school campus, the use of school facilities are in purported compliance with the Equal Access Act, the connection to Buschow, Allies Ministries and Catalyst Coalition tell a suspect tale.
While it is perfectly fair for students to have a bible study group on campus, as long as the Equal Access law is fully complied with, what is not admitted publicly is the student’s recruiting for Catalyst are directly connected to Daniel Buschow.
This is clear from the record, proving that the Bible study on campus is far reaching, beyond mere Bible study, and into the realm of an external mission supported by external forces, which may well reach even beyond Daniel Buschow. But that is the subject of another article.
What is apparent is an unyielding crusade for conversion to Christianity. The Catalyst literature followed by the students denotes an aggressive campaign to recruit other students into its “movement” with so much online confirmation that Daniel Buschow is behind it in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, that it cannot be disputed.
This right to have a Bible study group during after school hours on campus is clearly being abused and what heightens the abuse is the harassment of other students who are refusing to join.
The extent of the recruitment is beyond what the Equal Access legislation envisaged when intending to provide access to school facilities for all groups in parity.
Taking this a step further one must wonder whether recruitment into a particular religion, per se, as opposed to invitations to join an on campus group, was the intent of the Equal Access Act.
Even if it can be proved that Catalyst is operating legally, surely the schools have a duty to monitor the well being and conduct of every student for as long as any activity is allowed on Campus, whether before, during or after school hours.
The catalyst manual serves as proof of the teachings of Catalyst which even goes so far as to suggest that student campus leaders must not give up until all students have been successfully recruited to the movement and its mission to bring students to Christ fulfilled, imploring that if fellow students recruit aggressively they would be helping “lost souls.”
While getting other students to join one’s group is perfectly legitimate, when it comes to religion, matters can be quite sensitive and there is a fine line to tread. It is a question of basic respect for the privacy of others. No one should be called out on their religion or perceived religion. To set about recruitment in a fashion that exposes and insults other students is a form of bullying and extends beyond the right to freedom of speech, especially in a school setting.
To approach an atheist, a Buddhist, a Jewish or Muslim student and to proselytize on a school campus is cause for grave concern, especially where those students do not have the numbers to start groups of their own. Surely this is not the Bible study intended by the Equal Access Act? To be outnumbered is to negate equal access – and that is exacerbated by the constant and repeated barrage by Catalyst members to join.
With absolute respect to each and every person’s right to practice one’s religion freely, and in safety and in the hope that various religions and groups can operate in harmony, each not to the exclusion of another, one must dispel the idea of “ours is the best and only one” in messaging to other campus students.
Yet the outside ideals of Daniel Buschow and his so called ministry so clearly stated in the written and video examples which show that he is charged with a crusade and that is to bring every child on every campus to Christ and he is doing this through Allies Ministries and Catalyst Coalition, without any regard for this privacy.
Although one may tout freedom of religion and freedom of speech, this is a school campus where rules ought to abound and as long as the student is allowed to have their Bible study in accordance with the Equal Access laws and guidelines, there ought to be no problem in establishing the appropriate boundaries on Campus.
The link between what Daniel Buschow and the Catalyst students could not be more clear than from a recent notice placed on the Catalyst website, showing the involvement specifically of Blaine High, where Catalyst participants seem to mention a problem they have encountered with the school principal. This note on the site is difficult to interpret, yet names Mr. Phelps of Blaine High as being aware of what is going on at Blaine. It seems as if the students are attempting to justify their group as not being connected to Buschow and Allies, but what they do not realize is that the online proof to the contrary is overwhelming. The mere fact that they posted this attempt to justify their group’s legitimacy on a site owned by Buschow, is in itself telling. See below Footnote 3.
From this it is clear that Mr. Phelps is aware of what is going on at his school and on campus. One wonders what action will be taken given that student leaders of Catalyst are still charged to recruit others and that if students refuse to join they are harassed with repeated requests to join. Surely the district should have been informed about the operation of Mr. Buschow and how it is impacting this particular school?
To use one’s equal access to bully or insist that one’s religion is more likely to get one to heaven than another is abusive and an absolute violation of fair practice, especially in schools where the children and teens are so impressionable. This behavior should be curbed immediately regardless of the Equal Access question.
This may well be a matter of life or death and so it is my sincere hope that when it comes to this form of bullying and the importance of the federal Equal Access law, the school district of Anoka-Hennepin will act swiftly and diligently to ensure the well being and safety of students as well as the upholding of the law on their campuses.
FOOTNOTE 1 – TAX RETURN – -
At the helm of Allies Ministries is Daniel Buschow, who has a direct link to, and for want of a better term, “ownership” of Catalyst Coalition. Buschow, who is President of Allies Ministries signed its 2009 990 -EZ IRS “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax” form, as can be seen from the screen shot by noted as picture #1. At page 2 of the tax return Buschow notes that the organization’s exempt purpose is “YOUTH OUTREACH,” and when describing what was achieved in carrying out the organization’s “exempt purpose” Buschow noted “ BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS WITH YOUTH WORKERS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES USING EVENTS AND INITIATIVES TO PARTNER WITH THEIR WORKERS.” The return is somewhat incomplete as Buschow fails to answer the part that asks for “the number of people who benefited and other information for each program title.”
Other officers listed on the return include Daniel Buschow, President, Jeff Schurrer, Treasurer, and three directors include Tracy Little, Holmgren and Sherman Buschow. Contributions , gifts, grants etc amount to $136,414 of which $4,822 is declared for “benefits paid to members,” $29,500 to employee salaries , and $53,903 to unlisted professional contractors. A further $16,545 is noted for rental, utilities and maintenance, and $27,000 in other expenses including “DUES, DEV, INS and MAR.” See Footnote 2 – See PDF #1.
FOOTNOTE 2 – The PDF Screenshots referred to in this Article©-Melanie Nathan 2012.
PDF the Anoka Hennepin School District Equal Access Story by Melanie Nathan Copyright 2012http://www.scribd.com/embeds/91047493/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-21nr7h9w5uadb9x850tu
FOOTNOTE 3 – The Letter noted on Catalyst website pointing to Mr. Phelps at Blaine High being aware and also an attempt by the student who posted it to justify Catalyst as not being connected to Allies Ministries. However the proof is clear and this is a feeble attempt to disassociate from Mr. Buschow.
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
This Video illustrates that what Daniel Buschow is doing in the Anoka- Hennepin School District is trickling down from National Groups such as National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM) which has direct links to smaller local organizations. As depicted in this Video school campuses are specific targets for preaching and evangelicalism by adults through use of students. This is a lot different to what was intended by the Equal Access Act.
Allies Ministries is a ministry operating for the advancement of the recruitment of students into Christianity in these public schools in the Anoka-Hennepin district and this seems to be occurring at tax-payer’s expense:-
Dan Buschow -”Living the Cause” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OACw9gvU9g0
Speaks of Youth Workers joining us in the cause so that “our students can live the cause at their schools” …refers to the cause as a crusade. “We can change the upper Midwest by challenging our students to live the cause.”
Here is Dan Buschow bragging about his Catalyst program on Doug Field’s site:
http://www.dougfields.com/posts/whoisdoingthis/ – See Footnote 2 PDF # 5
More Evidence of outside involvement:-
http://www.razoo.com/story/Allies-Ministries; and here it clearly indicates “Catalyst” is it’s project…
You Tube Evidence:-
The outside literature points to an aggressive recruitment campaign and the students on campuses have actually encountered wording, rhetoric, verbiage that mimics word for word materials distributed by Catalyst Coalition on the website and in their manual.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WWYEFKmTcU&feature=relmfu The recruitment video advertisement filmed in school during school hours as evidenced by the location and number of students in the halls.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5xhukEMmXY&feature=relmfu Students and outside TV