Prayer of Thanks Removed From Elementary School’s Thanksgiving Program~ Following Complaint

Public schools have an obligation to remain neutral toward religion…..

JONESBORO, Ark. — A prayer thanking God for life’s blessings was recently removed from an Arkansas elementary school’s Thanksgiving program after one of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activists groups lodged a complaint.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District on Nov. 10 after being informed by a parent that students at Westside Elementary School were sent home with lyrics to memorize for the program, which included a prayer of thanks to God.

“Thank You for the world so sweet/Thank You for the food we eat/Thank You for the birds that sing/Thank You, God, for everything,” the poem was to have read. FFRF contended that the prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” 

“[P]ublic schools have an obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” the letter read. “Moreover, inducing young and impressionable children to give thanks to God is a usurpation of parental authority.”

“Such a practice alienates the students, teachers and members of the community whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school, particularly the 24% of all Americans, and 38% of Americans born after 1987, who are not religious,” FFRF asserted.

The group therefore requested that “all references to God or religion” be removed from the Thanksgiving program, and asked for a written response advising how the district would take steps to do so. 

According to FFRF, Superintendent Scott Gauntt conducted an investigation into the matter and after confirming the inclusion of the prayer of thanks in the program, had it nixed from the event.

“We will be more diligent in the future in an attempt to uphold the letter of the law in regards to separation of church and state,” Gauntt wrote.

FRRF has applauded the move removing God from the Thanksgiving program, calling it a “sincere action to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect the students’ rights of conscience.”

As previously reported, in 1828, just 52 years after the nation’s founding, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Colorado pastor arrested for allegedly impregnating 14-year-old girl

Leach told his ex-wife “he knows he had made the worst mistake” and “it’s not like he will go around and sleep with everybody’s 13 or 14-year-daughter”…

A Colorado pastor was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly impregnated a 14-year-old girl who had his child.

Romello Leach, 22, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who is a pastor for several churches that meet at a Colorado Springs hotel, faces multiple counts of sexual assault on a child, The Gazette reported.  The unidentified girl said she and the pastor had sex twice, once in Nov. 2016 in Leach’s car and at her home earlier this year, the Denver Channel reported.

The teenager gave birth to the child on Sept. 15 when she was 15 years old. The girl reportedly did not inform anyone she was pregnant until her mother noticed her “larger belly” in May, arrest records stated.

The teenager’s mother took her to the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center where they notified an employee that Leach was the father, the affidavit stated. The employee informed the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office of the pregnancy and an investigation was launched.

pervert pastor
 Romello Leach, 22, accused of impregnating a 14-year-old girl. (El Paso County Sheriff’s Office )

Leach told his ex-wife in a recorded telephone discussion that he had sexual relations with the teenager and admitted to being the father of her baby, arrest records stated.  

Leach told his ex-wife “he knows he had made the worst mistake” and “it’s not like he will go around and sleep with everybody’s 13 or 14-year-daughter,” the affidavit stated.

In a different recorded phone call, Leach admitted to an unidentified person of having sexual relations with the girl at least four times and being the baby’s father. Leach “admitted the behavior was wrong and said he was full of lust at the time,” The Gazette reported.

Leach was being held at El Paso County jail without bond. Deputies were investigating if there were any other victims of Leach’s. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Virginia Youth Pastor Charged With 1st Degree Murder in Thanksgiving Day Triple Homicide

Gattis’ Facebook page listed Grace Lutheran Church as his employer since 2014.

A Virginia youth pastor has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, stepdaughter, and stepdaughter’s boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day and is now in being held in jail.

In an incident police are calling a domestic in nature, Christopher Gattis, 58, shot and killed his wife Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter Candice Kunze, 30; and Andrew Buthorn, 36, Kunze’s boyfriend, at the home near Richmond that they shared with Gattis just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, Yahoo News reported Sunday. The women were found dead in the home; Buthorn’s body was found in the yard. 

Gattis, who is a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Chester, Virginia has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is now being held at Chesterfield County jail without bond. He will appear in General District Court on Monday and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Tuesday.

“Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester, and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church,” the church said in a statement on its website.

“Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.”

Residents of Gattis’ neighborhood are surprised.

“We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back,” Mike Brown, neighbor to Gattis, told the Richmond-area CBS affiliate.

“I mean every time I see them, they’re always the same way. [I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors.”

Neighbor Larry Patton, who lives across the street from the Gattis home, described the family in Friday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch as “good people.” When he and his wife moved into the neighborhood two years ago the Gattis family welcomed them, and the neighbors often shared meals together.

“He’d do anything for you. He was always quick to laugh. He had a hearty laugh,” Patton recalled of Mr. Gattis, the youth pastor. 

The neighbors told reporters that approximately six weeks ago Candice had moved back home from Oregon and brought her boyfriend along with her.

Gattis’ Facebook page listed Grace Lutheran Church as his employer since 2014.

Police say that their investigation into the triple murder is ongoing.