Then his dad showed up waving a bible and yanked him out, with some choice words for the public school system, the government and education. Background on the Forest Heights Community School kerfuffle here.
I think the 19-year-old stood up for the right things, and when his minister got involved I wondered if there was more going on than a student finding his way.
The school board had mentioned in prior news reports that attempts to negotiate with Swinimer had been difficult, and it appears it wasn’t the 19-year-old putting his foot down. There are family dynamics here that appear to have nothing to do with freedoms under the Charter. William Swinimer had told media Friday he was nervous about going back to school, I’m left wondering if his nervousness had little to do with facing his peers and discussing what has occurred. The Halifax Chronicle Herald:
William Swinimer showed up at school this morning wearing the yellow T-shirt that has garnered him national attention, but moments later his father angrily strode across the school parking lot, waved his copy of The New Testament at the media, and told them he’s pulling his son out of school.
John Swinimer accused the school district and the province of being anti-Christian, and said his three children have been bullied at the school because of their beliefs.
When asked what’s wrong with having his son take part in the debate, John Swinimer said, “It is time that we rise up. I am not taking questions right now. I am making statements.”
When another reporter asked him if he intends to pull William out of school permanently, or just while the discussions are being held, he said, “I’m making a statement here, I’m not answering questions. … If you overstep my boundaries I’m going to get in the car and leave,” which he did a short time later with his son in the front passenger seat.
The 19-year-old, who has done national media interviews and whose story has been broadcast across North America, had no comment.
“As a parent, I’m making this decision,” John Swinimer said.
While I think the school went too far in the suspensions, they self-corrected and attempted to do what was best for the small community of about 400 students. However, giving dad and Pastor Day attention now, does not help this guy graduate, does nothing for the school or the students. You can see the pastor in the clip with father John Swinimer.
Perhaps media can back off and not give the adults their 15 minutes of fame. It’s possible the 19-year-old (who is technically an adult) knew his dad would be by to wave a bible at media, but I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Whatever is going on in this family doesn’t need the glare of the media spotlight. This isn’t about dad or his persecution complex, but you won’t know that from what he said to media today. This isn’t about ‘law in the land’ or ‘government’ or dads bible or Christianity. The anger shown by the dad seems to hide a primary emotion of fear. The forum for the students was about respect of beliefs and rights. If there has been bullying, the school has made attempts to address the problem by going directly to students. The rest of the approximately 400 students at Forest Heights Community School need to move forward, and are attempting to do so.
Transcript of ATV clip – John Swinimer:
“And this is who I am, you cannot separate me from this book because this book is in me, it’s part of me, I have this book in my heart and no law in the land, no government in this world anywhere will separate me from this book. I will be a Christian til the day that I die, that’s who I am and I have the freedom in this country to express who I am, to speak who I am and to be who I am,
I walk in love, but today I am angry, today I am going to pull my son out of this school. He has arrived here, yes, and he is going to sign out and he is going to come out and he is going to come home with me. He will not attend this school.”
Talking Pentecostalism is a resource site which explains the movement, history and beliefs.
Update: William Swinimer went back to school later in the week. He has some misconceptions about the volunteer forum (attended by about 100 students) and he was scared, nursing a persecution complex, but he survived. Interview on 100 Huntley Street. He doesn’t get the ‘in your face’ mentality his dad exhibited with media, but I suspect that is part of his upbringing. Does anyone know the medals hanging on the wall behind him with the Jesus Junk?