A Montana school district prevented a motivational speaker from speaking to students at Dillon Middle School simply because he was a Christian, even though he was to make a strictly secular presentation. School officials had originally invited Jaroy Carpenter to speak to help students cope with a number of teen suicides and accidental deaths, but rescinded the invitation when a school board member complained about church/state implications. Please! Carpenter is a former public school teacher who goes from school to school speaking to students at assemblies about things that matter: living with integrity and good behavior. He teaches students the importance of honesty and of respecting one another. He also discourages them from degenerate lifestyles and behavior, such as using drugs, and tries to instill in them that they must be responsible and accountable for their own actions, which have consequences. He is said to lace his talks with "slapstick humor and offbeat anecdotes" and almost always captures the attention of the students.
After canceling Carpenter's talk, other area schools did likewise, folding like scared rabbits. They were reportedly concerned that this Christian man might inject his religion into his speech, though he "has made more than 200 secular presentations at school assemblies around the country and has never addressed religion or sought to proselytize those in attendance."
This school's decision represents the kind of thinking that breeds discrimination against Christians because it says we will bar Christians from participating just by virtue of who they are and what they believe. As Carpenter's attorney, John W. Whitehead, aptly summarized: "By withdrawing its invitation to address a public school assembly simply because Jaroy Carpenter is religious or happens to be associated with a religious ministry, this school district is essentially saying that religious persons must be kept off campus even though they have valuable insights and experiences to share with schoolchildren on subjects other than religion."
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