A Canadian high school student was suspended for a week because wore a t-shirt promoting his Christian beliefs and he was told if he wears it again – he could be suspended for the remainder of the school year.
William Swinimer, a student at Forest Heights Community School in Nova Scotia, was punished for wearing a shirt that read, “Life is wasted without Jesus.” The shirt is a reference to a passage of Scripture from the New Testament.
Swinimer told Fox News that he was told the shirt was a form of “hate talk.”
“I’ve been told by my principal that it is hate talk and is disrespectful to other people’s religions,” Swinimer said. “She said it (the shirt) cannot be in school because people would get offended.”
Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, the school board superintendent, told The Canadian Press that the wording on the shirt is “problematic.”
“If I have an expression that says, ‘My life is enhanced with Jesus,’ then there’s no issue with that, everybody is able to quickly understand that that’s my opinion about my own belief,” she told the newspaper. “If the shirt were to say, ‘Without Jesus, your life is a complete waste,’ then that’s clear that it is an opinion aimed at somebody else’s belief.”
Swinimer confirmed that he had been disciplined a number of times for wearing shirts with religious references.
“I’ve found that they have dissed Christianity quite a bit,” he said. “I do not want to be disrespectful of anybody else’s religions. I don’t want to put down anybody’s opinions. All I want to do is stand up for rights and freedoms of Canadians.”
The school does not have a dress code and Swinimer said students wear a variety of t-shirts. But he said for whatever reason, his Christian shirts seem to get him sent to the office.
“They treat other religions differently than they do Christianity,” he said. “The staff and principal and school board have been very hostile toward Christianity.”
But, he said, they promote other religions in the school.
“If they can pick on Christians in this school, what can they pick next?” he wondered. “Christianity in that school is not being treated the same way. I’m being discriminated against because of my religion.”
Swinimer attends Jesus the Good Shepherd Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Nova Scotia. Pastor Varrick Day told Fox News he is proud of his young parishioner.
“I’m very proud he’s standing up,” Day said. “I think he’s being bullied by the staff at the school and by the school board.”
Day called the suspension outrageous and said he hoped it would awaken other Christians across the nation.
“It’s not about the t-shirt,” he said. “This is what our forefathers fought and died for – this freedom of speech and religion.”
School officials told Swinimer that if he returned to school wearing the shirt, he would be suspended for the remainder of the school year.
“I plan to wear that t-shirt Monday, he said. “Not because I want to be disrespectful, not because I want to defy anybody, but because I believe this is the right thing to do.”