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Christian presentation at public ND high school criticized by civil rights group

LINTON, N.D. — Linton High School in south-central North Dakota is facing scrutiny from a civil rights organization for letting a Christian motivational speaking group hold events there Wednesday, Jan 10.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Paul Keeney, superintendent of Linton Public Schools, saying such events pose "special constitutional concerns vis-a-vis governmental promotion of religion."

In a news release, the ACLU said the Christian group, known as the Todd Becker Foundation, gave a presentation at the school during the day and invited students to a Christian event at the school in the evening. The ACLU noted that the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from promoting religious beliefs.

On its website, the Todd Becker Foundation describes its goal as "sharing with the student the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pointing them to the hope of a new beginning found in Christ."

Keith Becker, the foundation's ministry director, said the group aims to "challenge people to take the narrow road in life and steer clear of the choices that ultimately cost my brother his life."

Becker said the foundation has travelled to almost 500 schools offering the same presentation since 2005 and will continue to do so.

Attempts to reach the Linton High School principal and Superintendent Keeney were unsuccessful Friday.

The ACLU has asked the school district for all documents and correspondence related to the event but has not yet received a response, ACLU spokeswoman Jen Petersen said.

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