The Prior Lake-Savage School Board voted Monday to fire Prior Lake High School hallway and computer lab supervisor Chris Lind for “employee insubordination.” The decision has led to community members’ cries of religious discrimination and “Christian persecution.”
After several complaints about Lind instructing students on “Christian values,” meeting them for coffee to discuss faith and sexual abstinence and speaking with students about their sexual orientation, the district warned him about maintaining appropriate boundaries. Lind’s Myspace.com page was also an issue for district officials. Lind had been reprimanded in fall 2006 and then suspended in January 2007. After one student heard Lind remark that “today was ‘National Pick on Lesbians Day,'” the district decided to place him on unpaid administrative leave in May and then on Monday to fire him.
Lind told the Star Tribune that he purposefully denied the district’s orders. “I can’t say I followed that directive. I didn’t feel that, morally, I could.” Lind contends that his faith-based mentoring occurred off campus and that he is entitled to free speech, while the school board maintains that his off-campus socializing with students was inappropriate and crossed supervisor-student boundaries.
When students asked him about LGBT people, “he would tell them that the Bible says ‘that behavior is inappropriate,’ but that it’s not a worse sin than any other,” according to the Star Tribune. Lind supporter and district parent KarenRae Mord echoed that sentiment. “If a student is thinking about or has had an abortion, he wont judge them. He will listen. He gives them the love of Christ,” she told WCCO.
Some in the community see an anti-Christian motivation behind the firing, although Superintendent Tom Westerhaus maintains that the school board is composed of “faith-filled people.”
Lind has filed a lawsuit against the district. On his personal website, Lind wrote:
I have a excellent law firm behind me. I will give more details later. We must fight for our freedoms here also. Many former students in the active duty are cheering on our fight here. The truth is on our side. I can not thank everyone enough for your support and prayers. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Lind supporters have started a petition, and several people have been outspoken about his firing.
Steven Ruesink, who has two children at PLHS , wrote: “With all the issues kids have to deal with in society today, we need more Christians who love God, have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and have the morals to differentiate between right and wrong.”
KarenRae Mord told the Star Tribune, “This is a battle Satan has started. As Christians, we’re not going to be quiet anymore.”