A Pastor Wanted to Preach During the Day, So a MI Principal Gave Him a Classroom

When the newspaper headline reads “Local Pastor opens church inside Mumford High School,” you know there are bound to be questions.

The article, from about a month ago, explained that Pastor Gary Green planned to open a church inside Detroit’s Mumford High School. And he wasn’t just going to rent it out on Sunday morning (which is legal). He wanted it most of the other days, too.

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Check out the conversation he had with Mumford’s principal when he was looking for space to create a new church.

Soon, they got a call by a close friend, who was the principal at Mumford High School.

“While taking the tour, the principal expressed to us that she wanted prayer in her school, (and) we let her know that we wanted Calvary to not just have a church service on Sunday, but wanted (there) to be a service Monday through Friday.”

The school gave them the auditorium on Sunday and a classroom throughout the week.

“We started what God had told us to do, to feed his sheep, (and) the feed and seed program began. With the parents’ permission we feed the kids a light lunch and give them biblical stories that relate to their everyday lives.

There is nothing legal about giving a religious person classroom space during the school day to preach to students. Does anyone think any other group had that option available to them? Because I’m sure there are Satanists who would eagerly take that deal… Parental permission doesn’t absolve the pastor of any wrongdoing, either.

And what the hell was the principal thinking by saying she wanted prayer in school? Prayer that’s private or student-led is already permitted. What she wanted, apparently, was coercive and forced prayer.

Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the Detroit Public Schools Community District to put a stop to this:

We understand that Detroit Public Schools is slated to re-assume control of Mumford High School this coming school year, and so we thought it important to stress to the District the importance of ensuring that its schools act within constitutional limits so a situation like this does not recur.

Mumford High School cannot allow non-school persons to treat schools as a recruiting ground for their religious mission. It demonstrates an unlawful preference not only for religion over non-religion, but also Christianity over all other faiths. Public schools have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. When a school allows a church to proselytize to students, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with the religious message — in this case, a Christian message.

This is a simple case. If the school continues doing this, a lawsuit is likely and the atheists would win. There’s no reason to keep this going. The pastor can rent out the space on weekends or evenings, depending on the District’s rules, and that’s it. He shouldn’t be getting special space in the school that’s available to no one else.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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.