What Does It Take To Remove a Pastor Who Hangs Out at a Middle School?

You want to see Christian privilege in action?

Get this: At Summit Middle School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a pastor from a church called The Chapel was allowed to hang out in the cafeteria while students were there, pass out pamphlets (that may or may not have been religious in nature) to them, and chat with them as they ate. This was not just some random guy; in fact, the students “recognize[d] him as a religious leader.”

And the school just let it happen.

A scary-ass banner for The Chapel

The only reason we know about this is because one of the students recently brought home anti-abortion literature she got from the pastor and that’s when her parents began questioning what the hell was going on.

[Parent Linda Buchanan] said the school principal told her the minister was not supposed to approach any of the children, but “if they approach him he can speak to them.”

She said she and her husband, who moved to Indiana from Atlanta about two years ago, had never seen anything similar during their years attending public school and felt the practice was wrong. Other parents the couple contacted were also unaware of the practice, she said.

“We’re not a bunch of heathens,” Linda Buchanan said. “We’re not anti-religion, we’re anti-religion in public school.”

With the help of the ACLU, the family filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday morning at 8:45a.

15 minutes later, the Southwest Allen County school district’s attorney sent the ACLU an email:

ACLU attorney Ken Falk said the school district’s attorney phoned him at around 9 a.m. to say the district was ending the practice.

In other words, it took a federal lawsuit being filed for the school to finally do the right thing. The administrators didn’t have the courage to do it on their own. How’s that for leadership?

Does anyone think the school would have allowed a Muslim to do the same thing? An atheist?

I doubt it.

It’s incredible how many administrators are like this: They’ll let pastors use their schools as recruiting grounds for new Christians, and they won’t put a stop to it until someone complains. It’s irresponsible, unprofessional, and a complete betrayal of the parents’ trust. There are public schools that allow the Gideons people to come in and hand out Bibles, and public schools that invite church groups to speak at assemblies about why things like homosexuality and pre-marital sex are evil.

Meanwhile, the pastors take advantage of this illegal merging of church and state because, of course, they think they’re above the law.

Patrick Fischl, the pastor allegedly at the center of the controversy, hasn’t made any public comments about the case.

(Thanks to Katie for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.