FFRF gets proselytizer barred from Missouri schools


The Freedom From Religion Foundation has successfully gotten a proselytizer barred from a Missouri school district.

Bolivar High School had invited Bob Holmes, the “one man volleyball team,” to give a presentation to its student body. Holmes was accompanied by representatives of the Agape Baptist Church of Stockton, Mo., who took pictures and video of the event and publicized it on the church’s Facebook page.

The assembly was held in the Bolivar High School gymnasium on Tuesday, Feb. 20, during regular instructional hours. Holmes took several opportunities to preach his Christian faith to the captive student audience, proclaiming that “Jesus Christ is my lord and savior, and I’m not ashamed to tell you that.” He also recounted a highly distasteful twist on a story about a troubled teenager who turned her life around after accepting Jesus as her savior:

“Another girl was molested in thirteen foster homes. And because she got forgiven by the lord Jesus, she went to every one of her child molesters and said, ‘I forgive you because I got forgiven by my wonderful savior.'”

It only required a cursory Google search to verify Holmes’ proselytizing agenda, FFRF pointed out. His own website refers to his work as a “ministry,” and his official Facebook page is replete with references to his evangelism. In a self-authored biography page on “youthpastor.com,” Holmes openly discusses his “evangelism” in public schools. He has candidly proclaimed his intent is to convert other peoples children to Christianity: “Why do I go to 5,000 schools? … I don’t do it for volleyball, I do it because I’ve got an absolute truth [holds up a bible] and I can save somebody.” 

FFRF sought specific assurances that Bob Holmes would not be welcomed to speak at district schools in the future.

“It is inappropriate to take away instructional time from students to expose them to a Christian missionary, regardless of any secular message the speaker claims to be promoting,” FFRF Legal Fellow Colin McNamara wrote. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public schools may not be co-opted, either by staff or outside adults, to proselytize students.” 

The state/church watchdog’s reasoning proved to be very persuasive.

“I have been assured by the superintendent that [Holmes] will not be invited back for any future engagements,” the legal counsel for the Bolivar R-1 School District recently informed FFRF.

“A missionary such as Bob Holmes should never have been asked to speak at a public school,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We at FFRF have provided a constitutional service by ensuring that he is now banned from a Missouri school district.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 33,000 members across the country, including more than 400 in Missouri. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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