A Christian youth evangelist expressed disappointment over the outcome of a lawsuit between the Chesterfield County School District and the American Civil Liberties Union in regards to a religious rally held on school grounds last year.
The ACLU said on Friday that a settlement had been reached between the two, with the school district promising not to promote religion while also agreeing to submit a consent order to a federal judge in Florence, The Associated Press reported.
“I hate that everything happened the way it did,” Christian Chapman told The Christian Post in a phone interview, frustrated by the controversy that followed New Heights Middle School’s rally last September, where he and Christian rapper B-SHOC were invited to speak and perform at the school.
At the event, Chapman shared his personal testimony, preached the Gospel, and held an altar call, all of which “had been cleared” by the school.
“I always play by the rules and stay within the boundaries of what I’m given,” Chapman explained to CP. “I don’t want people to think I just went and did what I wanted.”
When B-SHOC uploaded a video of the event on YouTube, organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU began to fight back, accusing the district of repeatedly promoting religion and having a “longstanding custom, policy and practice of coercing and encouraging religious activities, as well as conveying religious messages throughout district schools.”
The ACLU filed suit last month on behalf of Jonathan Anderson, an atheist father, whose son was allegedly coerced into attending the religious rally.
Though students were given the choice to attend the event or not, their refusal to go would leave them in the in-school suspension room, the ACLU claimed in their suit.
Feeling like he was being punished if he declined to go to the religious event, Anderson’s son reluctantly attended. On his way to the concert, his teacher also purportedly told him not to brag about the fact that he was an atheist.
But Chapman doubted that the New Heights principal would tell students to report to the in-school suspension room as an alternative to not attending the rally.
“I don’t believe a principal who loves the kids the way he does would ever tell a kid to go to an in-school suspension room,” the former Spike TV reality series star described of NHMS Principal Larry Stinson. “[The ACLU] doesn’t know the county, the principal, the school district, [and] how much the kids love the principal.”
“I don’t really know them that well, but when I went there some of the teachers told me that the principal knows every student by name and there are over 600 students there,” he added. “He goes to the school early and prays over every locker before school starts on his own time and he just really loves and cares for these kids.”
“I believe he gave everybody a choice and everybody wanted to participate and they all came and had a great time, asking questions [and] making decisions ... incredible things happened. If those kids were given a choice as to whether or not they wanted to do the event again, a lot of them would say they would want to.”
Chapman, who works for Kingdom Building ministries, travels all throughout the nation, speaking to youth and adults about everything from the importance of leadership to the negative effects of drugs as a past drug addict.
“The public schools will bring me in for different reasons and this particular school said they had talked to the students and said you’re allowed to speak about your testimony, the Gospel, and provide an altar call,” he stated. “I don’t believe in going outside the boundaries.”
The Southern Wesleyan University graduate also said that nobody should be forced to hear about Jesus. But he also believed it was not right when people began stating that what happened at New Heights Middle School should never happen again.
“If you look at the definition of what religion is it’s a set of beliefs concerning the cause, purpose, nature of the universe and realizing that definition, I believe evolution is a religion,” Chapman began to expound.
“And I believe they are freely teaching this religion five days a week, nine months a year, and they’re pushing this religion on Christian children, and I don’t have a problem with that but one day out of the year, if someone wants to talk about Jesus and how he died and rose again for you, and how he has a plan for their life, people go crazy.”
Evolution is a religion, he noted. “We don’t really have a say whether [our children] hear it or not. I’m okay with that as long as they get to hear the other side as well.”
“America’s come a long way,” the evangelist concluded. “We just continue to be falling further away from what I believe the founding fathers wanted this nation to be about. A majority of them were Christians and I believe we wouldn’t be having this problem (the issue of separation of church and state) if they were here today.”