Here’s one of those cases where I’m just astonished that school officials could possibly have thought they were complying with the law. A school in Ft. Wayne, Indiana was allowing a local youth minister to come to the school cafeteria during lunch and minister to kids.
John and Linda Buchanan, whose 11-year-old daughter attends Summit Middle School in For Wayne, sued the Southwest Allen County school district in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, claiming the practice violated the First Amendment. The family is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
The lawsuit claimed a youth pastor from a church attended by many local families regularly visited lunch at Summit Middle School, standing in a “prominent location” in the lunchroom and talking with students who are required to eat there. The minister was allowed to hand out materials and move from table to table, talking with children, the claim states. The suit does not specify whether the materials were religious in nature.
“Many of the children recognize him as a religious leader. No other persons who are not associated with the school are allowed to stand in the lunchroom like this. This is coercive and represents an endorsement of religion,” the complaint alleges.
The school apparently caved in quickly, reversing their policy within a half hour of the suit being filed. But why the hell did they think this was okay in the first place? I’d bet that they didn’t. They probably knew it was illegal but didn’t care, knowing that the only way they get caught is if someone complains.