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.