BOLIVAR, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri public school district won't invite an evangelist back as a motivational speaker after complaints he veered off-topic by talking about faith.
The Bolivar School District hired Bob Holmes to speak to students about substance abuse, bullying and suicide prevention in February, the Springfield News-Leader reported. The district paid $800 to Holmes for the presentation at a Bolivar High School assembly. The evangelist is associated with the Agape Baptist Church of Stockton.
A parent alleges Holmes discussed his faith and invited students to listen to "part two" of his message at a Christian event at a Stockton school.
Freedom From Religion Foundation Attorney Colin McNamara sent Bolivar Superintendent Tony Berry a letter last month recounting the parent's concerns.
Holmes proclaimed at the assembly, "Jesus Christ is my lord and savior and I'm not ashamed to tell you that," according to the letter. He also told students the story of a troubled teen who became a Christian.
"Another girl was molested in 13 foster homes. And because she got forgiven by the Lord Jesus, she went to every one of her child molesters and said 'I forgive you because I got forgiven by my wonderful savior,'" the letter alleged Holmes said during the presentation.
"We are aware that many Christian missionaries insinuate themselves into public schools by camouflaging their purpose," McNamara said. "However, in the case of Bob Holmes, it would only require a cursory Google search to verify his proselytizing agenda."
The letter asks the district to take steps ensuring future assemblies don't "contain an underlying proselytizing message."
"We did have an incident that took place and we feel like we addressed that," Berry said. "We respect the separation of church and state."
Holmes will not be returning, according to Craig Heidemann, an attorney who responded to the letter on behalf of the district.
He said district officials did not "intentionally promote any improper religious speech at the school assembly in question."