Juvenile Case Worker Dismissed For Refusing to Stop Teens From Attending His Church

Amazing that something as simple as going to church with the very same people you are trying to help out in your job can cause any angst at all. It’s a crying shame.

This from Evangelical News:

Agencies Sued For Firing Case Worker Who Let Juvenile Offenders Attend His Church

TAMPA, Florida – Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit today in federal court on behalf of Dennis Hughes against a youth services agency that terminated him when he refused to stop allowing troubled teens in its program to attend his church and church-sponsored activities. Also named in the lawsuit is the agency that manages the program and orchestrated his dismissal, the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC).

Hughes was a case manager for Bay Area Youth Service (BAYS) in the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program, a program which provides case management services to juvenile offenders. If a juvenile enrolls in and completes the program, the State’s criminal charges are dropped. BAYS receives virtually all of its annual revenue from the State of Florida. The program essentially operates as an arm of the State, but Florida has no law forbidding church leaders from attending functions with juvenile offenders in State programs.

For several years BAYS accommodated Hughes’ religious activities during his free time, while he served first as youth pastor then as assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel of Tampa. During that time, some of the juveniles under his supervision voluntarily attended church services and sports activities sponsored by Calvary Chapel. One of the activities was held at the University Area Community Center Complex. UACDC, which also manages the Community Center, objected to the religious content of the Calvary Chapel youth activities, banned the activities from the Center and insisted Hughes end his participation.

Since UACDC also funds and manages the Prodigy program, BAYS adopted a policy that juveniles in the program could not attend any event where Hughes was present, even though no problems had ever arisen with the juveniles because of the church events. BAYS terminated Hughes, although he had excellent performance reviews, only because he would not agree to either stop attending his church or prohibit juveniles in the program from attending.

After Hughes was terminated, BAYS sent him its newly adopted policy, stating that staff members are not allowed to “oversee, supervise, coach, mentor, counsel, or recreate with any active program youth or families as part of any outside activity or organization.” The policy is so broad that it prevents any church leader or youth activities volunteer from working in the juvenile program, because the leader would have to either leave a church meeting or make a juvenile and their family leave. It even prevents church leaders from attending the same church or participating in any church-related activity with a family member.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “This policy requires youth workers to either leave church or ban juvenile offenders and their family members from attending any church-sponsored event, no matter the size or location of the activity. Must a pastor or church member who is also a youth worker exit the back door when a juvenile offender enters the front door? Under this policy, the answer is yes. This policy is too broad to withstand a legal challenge.”

Evangelical News

5 thoughts on “Juvenile Case Worker Dismissed For Refusing to Stop Teens From Attending His Church

  1. this is obviously a biased situation, but to be fair, there is reason for such concern in other situations.

    however, it really should come as no surprise as the mainstream continues further and further toward areligiousness.


  2. This is absolutely ridiculous. I feel I need to scream this over and over again. From my blog:

    »Michael Newdow May Be The Dumbest Doctor Alive!

    “…As to the separation of church and state issue–that is not found in the Constitution. It is a Court-created concept from a misapplication of a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. That letter stated “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    So what is he saying here? He is saying that he invisions a Country that does not disallow individuals from establishing a religion and freely exercising that religion within the bounds of the law (no human sacrifice for example). So that there is a wall separating the church from the government control of the church. This phrase has been mutiliated to mean that our Government cannot acknowledge the existence of God–how ridiculous!…”

    I am so sick of “separation of church and state” being used to destroy the fabric of our society. It is an abomination that the words of Thomas Jefferson have been so corrupted, twisted, and misused.

    There, I’ve taken a breath–I’m okay now. Thanks for letting me rant. 🙂


  3. explanation: the currents and trends with which our country’s majority moves is in the direction of personal religion. pietism has swept and continues to sweep across North America.

    however, religion isnt religion if it isnt a community. there is no such thing as a personal religion, yet that is what mainstream culture has made and is making it.


  4. @PB and J< Yes, but there is such a thing as personal faith. I’m still not sure what point you are trying to make.

    My point is that something as simple as being seen at the same church as your charges is so offensive to some, or is so worrisome to those unneccessarily connecting the action to a church and state issue that they are trying to legislate against it (or fire their employee in fear of being perceived as pandering to a “religion.”)

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