N.S. student suspended for wearing pro-Jesus shirt
A Grade 12 student at a Nova Scotia school has been suspended for wearing a T-shirt proclaiming a Christian message on the front of it, but other students may wear it tomorrow in protest.
The T-shirt, which says "Life is wasted without Jesus," has been deemed inappropriate at the Chester Basin school.
"It really blew me away," says Pastor Varrick Day, the minister at William Swinimer's church. "You got suspended for a Bible verse on your T-shirt?"
Day says he is still trying to figure out why Swinimer was suspended for wearing the shirt.
"This is very stressful, being out of school and dealing with all the different issues, but overall, he is upholding very well," says Day.
Swinimer declined to give an interview today, but he started his five-day suspension from Forest Heights Community School on Monday after some students complained the shirt was offensive.
"I'm an atheist myself and I'm kind of offended because he's basically saying that my life is wasted without Jesus, and I think the reason for him getting suspended is reasonable," says Grade 11 student Niall Barkes.
The superintendent of the South Shore Regional School Board says the board has no problem with students expressing their religious views, but in this case, she says the shirt crossed the line.
"We do ask that students express their views in a way that would not be interpreted as a criticism of their beliefs," explains Supt. Nancy Pynch-Worthylake.
Nova Scotia Education Minister Ramona Jennex says she is standing behind the board's decision.
I'm very appreciative of they way the board has handled this and appreciative of the leadership of the superintendent," Jennex tells CTV News.
But some students feel the suspension is about more than just Swinimer's T-shirt.
Grade 12 student Brianna Caterer says Swinimer has been going too far with his religious messages.
"He's been preaching to students about his religion, whether they want to hear it or not…like, exchange students from all over the world," says Caterer.
But Swinimer's pastor insists he has good intentions and isn't trying to offend anyone.
"To have the love of God in the school is what we need and William is trying to do that, to tell these students there is a better way of living," says Day.
One Bridgewater businessman says he is throwing his support behind Swinimer.
"I think if he gets more people to read the verse he's talking about he'll get more people thinking about what's right and wrong and the country needs more of that," says Bob Richards.
Richards is donating enough money to have 100 of the T-shirts made and Day hopes students will support Swinimer by wearing them to school tomorrow.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Garreth MacDonald