Here’s yet another situation where a school gave a youth pastor access to their school cafeteria to act as a volunteer supervisor and had them decide to start proselytizing instead. Only this time, the students spoke up and got him thrown out for it.
A youth mentor from Salem Heights Church was barred from volunteering at Straub Middle School after a student accused him of promoting Christianity and insulting her for being an atheist.
The school’s principal, Laura Perez, said that Tim Saffeels, the church’s director of student ministries, will not be allowed back as a volunteer for the remainder of the school year…
Saffeels denied the accusations. He said he sat down at a lunch table on Oct. 23 with a student who belonged to the same church when the students started asking him about religion.
“I wasn’t in any way trying to force any of those things,” Saffeels said. “They actually did literally ask me ‘Who is Jesus?’ ”
But some Straub students said Saffeels was making them feel uncomfortable.
“He said imagine this scenario. All of us are in a van and we’re driving somewhere and we get hit by two drunk drivers and we all die. What happens next?” said eighth-grader Sarina Keightley.
Eighth-grader Shelby Conway wrote an email to the principal asking that the volunteer not return.
In the email, she said that Saffeels asked students for their religious beliefs and then insulted her after she revealed that she was atheist.
She wrote in the letter that the volunteer told her that atheism is “wrong,” “bad,” “stupid” and “evil.”
“I was very uncomfortable and personally offended with the way he was speaking to both me and other non-Christians around the lunch room,” Conway wrote. “I request that we keep things like this, such as pastors and religious speeches, in places where they are welcomed, such as churches or religious schools.”
Saffeels denied saying those comments about atheism to the student.
His claim that it was all okay because the students asked him first is ridiculous. First, it doesn’t matter at all. If a student started asking him about his sex life, would he be okay to talk about it? Of course not. The responsible way to handle it is to say that it isn’t appropriate for him to discuss religion in that context. Secondly, he was at a table full of kids. Even if one kid — a member of his church, by the way — started asking him about it, that doesn’t mean the others are interested. He should have said, “Ask me in church this Sunday.” And walked away.