A 4-H program run by Oregon State University’s Extension Service is facing backlash after they told children they could not wear any clothing that promoted Christianity.
“It just saddens me, you taking God out of 4-H,” former Republican state senator Herman Baertschiger told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “It still says ‘In God, we trust’ on every single dollar bill. We say it in our Pledge of Allegiance. It’s just politics. It’s just flat politics.”
One child, who was participating in a livestock show in Josephine County, was told to turn his shirt inside out because the shirt was adorned with a cross.
The youngster was a member of a group called, “Faithful Farmers.”
“Personal religious expression, including wearing clothing or jewelry with religious symbols, is permitted. However, the Faithful Farmers club t-shirts were club shirts, purchased with 4-H funds,” OSU spokesperson Jennifer Alexander told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Other young farmers were told they could not wear t-shirts represent “JOE’s Place” because it was an acronym for “Jesus Over Everything.”
“OSU has a religious neutrality clause,” 4-H Club coordinator Lisa Parlette told television station KOBI. “So, we as an organization can’t require youth to be affiliated with a certain religion and we can’t require them to wear religious affiliated items at a club level.”
Instead of surrendering their religious liberty at the barn door, the good people of Josephine County decided to fight back.
About 300 children left 4-H and started a new group called, “Youth and Ag of Josephine County.”
Local reports indicate only about 49 children remained in the old 4-H program.
“When you have all these kids and families leave a program, it’s failing,” Baertschiger said a recent meeting. “Why would I want to fund something that’s failing?”
So, the Josephine County Commission voted to completely defund the 4-H programs, citing its “woke agenda.”
Oregon State University’s decision to ban Jesus from the 4-H Club in Josephine County cost them about $400,000 in taxpayer cash.
That decision raised the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“By defunding a local program for attempting to respect religious neutrality, based on your stated desire to advance religion, the Board violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, disregards the wall of separation between church and state, and disrespects the diversity of Josephine County’s citizens,” the Wisconsin-based organization wrote to commissioners.
4-H started in the early 1900s as “four-square education.” The H’s stand for head, heart, hands and health.
But in Josephine County, one of the H’s stands for “heretics” or “heathens.”