In the state of Washington, three volunteer Christian youth pastors have been temporarily banned from a state middle school after parents heard from students that the three were proselytizing during lunch.
KIROTV.com reports the Bainbridge Island School District has hired an outside contractor to conduct a “fact-finding” mission into the allegations concerning the three volunteer cafeteria supervisors at Woodward Middle School.
“We can’t ignore this. There are just too many serious issues to consider here,” board president Mike Spence told KomoNews.com. “That’s pretty dangerous. It’s a pretty slippery slope I guess I would say.”
The key issue for Spence is the separation of church and state. He says district rules cannot bar someone because of religious beliefs, but volunteers are not allowed to speak about religion on campus.
Most people tend to believe the false idea that there is a separation of church and state. The constitution does not provide such a separation, it simply prohibits the federal government from establishing a religion and from impeding the free exercising of it.
However, parents do have the right to limit who and what their children are exposed to.
Meanwhile, one of the volunteers denied the allegations.
“The only time church may have come in is when they say, ‘What do you do?’ my response is, ‘I’m a youth pastor.’ Even sometimes say I’m a leader because most of the kids don’t know what a youth pastor is,” said Danny Smith.
“I don’t wanna defend myself, I want to defend my motives. It’s not about me, it’s about why I’m there. It’s not for evangelizing and it’s not for proselytizing or recruiting, but it’s just there to be there.”
The allegations concern what Smith and his cohorts said at Woodward Middle School.
“I think it’s a very dicey situation, I think they have to be really careful what they say,” Leslie Krantz, whose eighth-grade son attends Woodward, told KIROTV.
Darryl Martin, another parent, told the station: “If some of those volunteers were not there, taking the opportunity to meet my son, and help introduce him to other students, my son would spend most of the year eating lunch by himself.”
The district reportedly has said it might allow the pastors back on to campus, pending the investigation’s outcome.
Meanwhile, Smith says he merely wanted to embolden the students — and assist in their maturation.
“I come here because I know that it’s important for every student to know that they each have value and a purpose,” he reportedly told a crowd of parents and school officials that recently convened to discuss the issue.