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.