‘I Sure Did’: Tennessee Pastor Unapologetic for Speaking About God at Public School Assembly

Stewart ssSODDY-DAISY, Tenn. — A pastor in Tennessee is refusing to apologize for speaking about God at a public school assembly last month, where he gave a speech in memory of the 9/11 attack on American soil.

“Did I mention God in the speech that day?” Pastor Alan Stewart of Rechoboth Baptist Church in Soddy-Daisy asked local television station WRCB-TV. “I sure did.”

Stewart had been invited to speak at Sale Creek Middle/High School on September 11th, and so, he decided that he wanted to give the students hope. According to a transcript of the speech, he mentioned God six times, and quoted one Scripture during his seven-minute talk.

“In the days that followed, as a pastor, I was asked a hundreds times, ‘How do you answer this from Scripture?'” he explained to students that day. “My mind recalled a moment in Luke 13:4 where Jesus had addressed a national event where the tower in Siloam had fallen on innocent people and their lives were lost.”

“It seems that there were some in the crowd holding the assumption that the horrific event was a form of judgment from God,” he continued. “When Jesus answered with a challenge to personal inspection and repentance, surely they were awakened to the fact that every story has more than one perspective.”

However, a parent at the school who was uncomfortable with Stewart’s references to God then contacted the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to lodge a complaint. In turn, the organization sent a letter to the Hamilton County Board of Education, remarking that it was a mistake for them to invite a pastor to speak at a public school.

“While it is laudable for Sale Creek Middle/High School to organize a memorial assembly honoring the victims of 9/11, it is unconstitutional to allow religious messages and prayer to be a part of a school-sponsored event,” FFRF wrote. “[I]ncluding prayer and references to a Christian God is divisive and isolating.”

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But Stewart noted that on 9/11, much of the nation sought God and prayed–of their own will.

“It was a day in American history that our people came together and prayed across the land,” he told station WDEF. “They prayed not only in churches, they prayed in the marketplace, street corners and civil governments. No one should be coerced to pray, and no one should be forbidden to pray. That’s what our founding fathers stood for, and that’s what the Constitution and all the amendments have stood for, for all these years.”

Stewart says that he is not apologizing for his presentation, but is rather concerned that there are those that seek to silence speech about God.

“In the last 20 years of my life, I have watched the voice of respect of the church diminish,” Stewart told reporters. “I would have never dreamed since I was a little boy, I would be told in my country that I can’t pray. I can’t mention God.”

WRBC-TV reports that the school system says it has “retrained educators” about the separation of church and state in response to the letter from FFRF.

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  • Dan Lusk

    The pastor did respond to the FFRF noting they were unconstitutional. Here is the blog where you can see their letter and the pastor’s response: http://rebecaseitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/hope-springs-from-a-public-school-principal/#comments

  • Lee Park

    Check out the website rebecaseitz.com and her blog of Oct. 4. She has this pastor’s speech, the letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the pastor’s response letter.
    If you check his response, you will see that he let the FFRF know that what he did was not unconstitutional and that he will not stop proclaiming the name of the Lord! I pray that God will continue to bless this pastor as he takes this stand!

  • Oh Johnny Boy

    I glad you are noit afarid to speak about Jesus Christ in Public, Do not be afarid of satan and his hinch men or even the demons remember you are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Speek out let the world know Jesus Christ is about to put and end to satans rule here on earth and then all those who took the mark of the beast and followed satans ways will be judged by Jesus Christ. AMEN

  • BeBe Ivy

    The government fails to understand The Church is the individual, the True Believer. Not a local building. According to God’s Holy Word, The Church is The Bride of Christ, made from individuals who accept, believe and worship Jesus Christ.

    However, it is these very individuals that the government forces to pay federal, state and local taxes to each level of government. Basically separation of Church and state is an oxymoron when the government wants to collect $$$money$$$$$, but misused as law when it is not profitable to them.