by Allie Martin
(AgapePress) – An 18-year-old Michigan high school student has been suspended from school for an impromptu lunchtime speech to classmates about Jesus.
Pat DeRoch, a senior at Dundee High School, wanted to boost attendance at the weekly Bible study held at the school. So during lunch one day several weeks ago, he climbed up on the stage in the school's cafeteria, invited fellow classmates to the Bible study, and spoke about the power of God's love. DeRoch describes what happened 10 minutes into his speech.
“Apparently one of the supervisors in the lunchroom … went down to the principal's office or saw the principal and said [something like], 'Hey, we've got a serious problem in the cafeteria. There's a kid talking about God in there. We've got to stop that because of the separation of church and state,' ” DeRoch says. “So the principal came down and said, 'Hey, get off the stage' and I got off and went down to the office.”
School administrators told DeRoch he had violated school policy and would be suspended for a day and a half. School records state he was suspended not because of the topic of his speech, but because he spoke without first getting permission from administrators.
His mother, Lori, was surprised at the school's actions and explanations.
“What really transpired from there was pretty offensive to us,” she says, “because we had gotten a call from the principal, and he had wanted my son to get a psychiatric evaluation before he could come back to school. They just suspended him for talking without getting permission. And so he still had the … suspension, which was kind of unfair because he got zeros in his classes for those days that he missed.”
Mrs. DeRoch says students who have more serious run-ins with school officials do not have as high a price to pay. But she says her son has no regrets.
“Being a Christian, you know sometimes things don't go your way. So he got suspended, he did what he thought was right. He got suspended for it, and that's fine. If he has to serve a suspension for doing what's right, then that's okay,” she says.
DeRoch's story was featured in several local newspapers newspapers which are read by Christians in Michigan and Ohio. He feels the Lord has used his speech and suspension to encourage other teenagers to take a stand for Christ.
“A lot of churches in the area … have been calling because they've heard about the story, and … they've said they want me to come to their different youth groups,” he says. “They want me to start encouraging their youth. Of course, everyone at school knows about it … it's a big thing now, and that's just like opening more doors [to share the gospel].”
DeRoch, who believes the Lord is calling him into the ministry field, says he was not trying to be a rebel when he delivered the lunchroom speech. He says he was just trying to be obedient to God.
School officials did not return phone calls to comment on the story.
(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)