With so many public schools directly or indirectly promoting Christianity these days, it’s nice to see a situation where everyone handled it properly.
Last week, motivation speaker Ryan Roberts spoke to the juniors at Keller High School in Texas, his alma mater, about how to handle stress. He was there as a representative of C3 Student Leadership, a local non-profit organization.
But toward the end of his talk, things got weird:
According to students, Roberts said there was someone in whom they could all find relief and asked students to call out the name on the count of three. When he reached three, he yelled, “Jesus!”
What the hell…?
It’s irrelevant if that’s his personal belief. But it’s illegal to push that onto students. (Imagine if he had said Allah or Baphomet…)
At that point, you might expect Roberts to say something about religious freedom and you might expect the school to defend their decision to bring him there.
But that’s not what happened. In this case — with no prompting from outside church/state separation groups — everyone handled the situation properly.
Roberts issued this statement on his Facebook page:
On March 30th 2015, I, Ryan Roberts, a former Keller High School student, Baylor University graduate, and a (non-staff) volunteer motivational speaker for C3 Student Leadership, was asked by C3 Student Leadership to take part in addressing the junior class at Keller High School regarding handling pressure and stress. At the close of the assembly, I spoke on my own accord regarding my personal story and Christian faith with a lack of full awareness of the C3 Student Leadership and Keller High School verbal agreement. There was no misunderstanding between the school and the organization as to the topic of the assembly; I accept responsibility for the boundary line that was crossed. This is not an issue of religious liberty; this is a breach of trust between C3 Student Leadership and Keller ISD and for that specifically I sincerely apologize to the students, families, teachers, and administrators affected. I would like to make it clear that I genuinely love, respect, and honor the leaders of C3 Student Leadership and the Keller ISD administration.
Thanks and God bless,
I gotta say: That’s a real apology right there. I appreciate how he shuts down the usual Christian rhetoric immediately. I’m not sure what was going through his head when he said “Jesus” at the assembly, but I get the feeling he won’t let it happen again.
The principal of the school sent a letter to parents as well:
In his letter to parents, Principal Michael Nasra wrote: “It is important for me to strongly reiterate the fact that, in Keller ISD and on the KHS campus, we unequivocally embrace diversity and are disappointed by the speaker’s lack of sensitivity and respect for all beliefs.”
Keller schools had used speakers from the organization in the past without any problems, Nasra’s letter said.
No doubt some Christians will complain about how this ought to be a non-issue and how apologies are unnecessary — just check the comments on Roberts’ Facebook post and the District’s statement — but that’s only because they’re unable to see the situation from anywhere other than their position of privilege.
The principal — and the students who said something — deserve gratitude for handling the situation professionally. We can’t ask for more than that.
Well… maybe one thing. It didn’t take me very long to find this page showing that C3 Student Leadership considers nearly “300 salvations during the school year of 2012-2013” as evidence of its effectiveness. Or that it was started by a pastor who was “following God’s call to ministry” when he founded it.
This is a Christian group, even if it doesn’t say so on their website. Maybe their assemblies are meant to be secular but it’s not like Roberts’ mistake happened out of nowhere.
(Thanks to Doug for the link)