Life is often wasted in high school

Nova Scotia is not exactly a beacon of freedom these days. Now we have a report of a high school student suspended for wearing a t-shirt that expresses his faith. The shirt reads, Life is wasted without Jesus.

A rather benign, if contentious, message, the student, William Swiminer, is unwilling to back down. He is scheduled to return to school on Monday, and plans to wear the t-shirt again.

Now, you might be thinking that this silly suspension is the result of a blanket policy banning any religious clothing (not that that’d be constitutional). At the very least, you could think that Mr. Swiminer, while having his rights violated, at least received procedural fairness, being treated the same as any other t-shirt sporting believer would.

You’d be wrong. The school board, in fact, is proud of the arbitrary nature of their rules:

School board Supt. Nancy Pynch-Worthylake said the wording on the shirt is problematic because it is directed at the beliefs of others.

“If I have an expression that says ‘My life is enhanced with Jesus,’ then there’s no issue with that, everybody is able to quickly understand that that’s my opinion about my own belief,” she said.

“If the shirt were to say ‘Without Jesus, your life is a complete waste,’ then that’s clear that it is an opinion aimed at somebody else’s belief.”

Pynch-Worthylake said the school has spoken with Swinimer a number of times about the shirt, asking him not to wear it again.

That’s some nice hair-splitting Ms. Pynch-Worthylake is attempting, but it demonstrates an ignorance towards Mr. Swiminer’s faith. Christianity is, certainly, an incredibly personal faith, but it is not introverted and it is not weak. The message of the t-shirt is a universal declaration. It is unequivocal, but it is not pointed. It is evangelism, not proselytizing.

An educator would wise to learn the difference.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. I like that name “Pynch-Worthylake.”
    I just wish her first name would have been ‘Ella.’

  2. Are you kidding? Do you not see that a shirt that says, “Life is wasted without Jesus” is saying to every Jewish, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Agnostic kid, every kid who doesn’t share this arrogant kid’s belief, that their life is wasted? To start with, it’s a stupid sentiment. I’m sorry he thinks I and millions (billions?) of others are wasting our lives, but that’s his problem. Suppose someone went to the school in a t-shirt proclaiming, “Jesus is not real”, or “Life without Scientific Humanism is wasted”? The school superintendent is bang on. A shirt proclaiming his love for Christ is a world away from a shirt proclaiming that other people’s lives are wasted. Do you SERIOUSLY not understand that?

    • Yes, that’s what it’s saying to those students. And a student saying “Jesus is not real” is making a clear statement against the Christian kid’s life.

      And both T-Shirts ought to be allowed.

  3. We have a new religious Pharisee today – that of the religion of human secularism (ROHS). Jesus did not preach “tolerance”. He said clearly that there was only one way to the Father, and He was it. He also said that those who follow him would suffer. ROHS doesn’t want to hear the truth, it is “offensive” and “not tolerant”. “Nail him to the cross” is the reaction of the Pharisees then and now. Swinimer is not above his master. When we sing “God keep our land, glorious and free” it is in reference to the God of the Bible – a nation founded on Christian principles, which has jettisoned them for human secularism. God help us.

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