After posting a lot about schools in which teacher-preachers aren’t really punished, it’s nice to hear about schools where incidents like these are put to rest immediately.
Reader Andrew shared this story with me via email. It takes place during his senior year of high school in 2002:
I was taking two periods of band, one in the morning and one later in the day…
We had a sub in band that day. Usually that meant that we had an hour of freedom to do homework, but this guy stood up at the front of the classroom and started talking to the class about his life and work he did helping prison inmates while doing little magic tricks. Eventually it became clear that the “work” he did with inmates was preaching to them [and] he started doing the same in the band class.
I pretended to read a book and held my tongue while he preached the gospel, but as soon as the bell rang I went down to the principal’s office. He was out but the assistant principal came out to talk to me and I gave her a quick rundown of the situation. Her eyes widened when she heard that he was preaching and she said, “That’s not right. I’ll take care of this,” and marched out of the office and down to the band room.
I had a second band class later that day. The sub was still there, but this time he just did a quick magic show with no mention of religion. I asked the assistant principal about it later and she said that he wouldn’t be back after her discussion with him.
I went to school in a small town in Indiana where religion is generally considered as American as baseball and apple pie, but the assistant principal knew what the law was and reacted as soon as a I let her know what was going on with a minimum of fuss. I thought my story might be heartening given some of the horror stories that I’ve seen high school students endure. People shouldn’t be afraid of speaking out when they see this sort of thing, and they might even be pleasantly surprised at the response they get.
All it takes for this kind of proselytization to stop is a student willing to speak up, even anonymously. There’s no reason anyone should be able to preach their religion at a public school without fearing some sort of non-divine punishment.