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Indiana school ordered to cease and desist allowing illegal religious activity

Indiana school ordered to cease and desist allowing illegal religious activity

Summit Middle School in Ft. Wayne, IN, has cancelled a youth pastor's visits in response to a decision by a Federal court. The suit was filed against the school by John and Linda Buchanan after learning the pastor was acting in violation of the First Amendment by stopping by the school during lunch time, handing out materials as he moved to different tables.

According to the Associated Press and local newspaper, the News-Sentinel, Linda Buchanan stated that she and some other parents were not pleased to learn about the religious outreach that was taking place at the school. Linda Buchanan, 44, said she became aware of the situation when her daughter came home one day with anti-abortion material of a religious nature that she was given at a school health fair.

After making an inquiry, she was told by the school principal that the minister was advised not to approach any of the children, but if the children approached the pastor, he was free to engage them.

The suit was filed with the assistance of the Indiana ACLU at 8:45 am last Friday morning. By 9:00 am, William "Tuck" Hopkins, an attorney representing the Southwest Allen County Schools, called the ACLU to advise that the visits by the pastor have been put to an end.

The Buchanan's were pleased at the speedy results, but were confused that the activity wasn't ceased until litigation became involved. They state that they are not anti-religion, but do not want religion in the public schools.

The pastor was employed by 'The Chapel,' a local evangelical Christian church, and the actions by the church and the pastor were in clear violation of the Constitution, as a public school is part of the government and may not favor one religion over others, or over non-religion.

The Courts have consistently ruled in favor of the restriction interaction of religious institutions and schools since the US Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that schools cannot require students to begin the school day in organized prayers, or by reciting a state-composed prayer.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
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