December 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

An Indiana public school has cancelled a youth pastor’s lunchtime visits in reaction to the filing of a federal lawsuit.

According to an Associated Press account, John and Linda Buchanan brought the legal action after a minister from a local church regularly stopped by Summit Middle School in Ft. Wayne, which their 11-year-old daughter attends. The pastor reportedly handed out materials and moved from table to table, talking with the children.

Linda Buchanan told the AP that she and other parents were surprised to learn about the religious outreach and felt it was clearly wrong.

“We’re not a bunch of heathens,” Linda Buchanan said. “We’re not anti-religion; we’re anti-religion-in-public-school.”

The Buchanans’ lawsuit was filed with the help of the Indiana ACLU at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 19, and at 9:00 a.m. an attorney for the Southwest Allen County Schools called the civil liberties group to say that the clergy visits have ended.

In a “Wall of Separation” blog post, Americans United Communications Director Joseph L. Conn said the school did the right thing, but it shouldn’t have taken legal action to force a policy change.

“I’m glad school officials took the right course of action,” he said. “But I’m perplexed as to why it took federal litigation to get to this point.”