FFRF has stopped an Indiana school district from violating the U.S. Constitution in several ways. The superintendent of Cloverdale Community Schools has assured FFRF it will stop prayers at staff meetings and will not invite back an “inspirational” speaker who proselytized at a school event.
A concerned Cloverdale Community Schools employee informed FFRF that the school district recently hosted multiple events by Craig Conrad, an inspirational speaker who performs as ‘Unstoppable Man,’ including presentations to both teachers and various groups of students. The session for teachers was apparently a mandatory professional development meeting that lasted approximately two hours in the afternoon on Aug. 31 at Cloverdale High School. Conrad reportedly concluded the session with an instruction to teachers to look at an image of Jesus and “realize that we are teaching for ‘Him’ and not for any other reason.” Conrad pressured the teachers to stay for this final portion of the session by telling them that if they were “easily offended snowflakes,” then they could leave.
FFRF’s complainant was uncomfortable leaving the session after this bullying taunt because the school’s principal, H. Sonny Stoltz, has a practice of leading prayers before some staff meetings. The complainant was concerned that leaving the professional development meeting in order to avoid Conrad’s promotion of Christianity would invite retaliation from the principal.
This is not the first time that FFRF had received complaints about Conrad, who sells himself as a patriotic anti-bullying motivational speaker but ironically bullies and belittles those who do not share his views of Christian nationalism.
Providing Conrad with a captive audience presented a risk of legal liability to the district if Conrad again promoted religion during a presentation, FFRF pointed out. In a letter to Superintendent Greg Linton, FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne urged the district to not allow Stoltz to inject religious promotion into staff meetings, and to not invite Conrad to speak at future district events.
FFRF’s reasoning proved to be highly persuasive.
“In short, Mr. Conrad will not be invited back in the future to provide any type of convocations for students, or in-service for staff,” Linton responded. Linton stated that even prior to receiving FFRF’s letter, school administrators concurred that “parts of [Conrad’s] message were not appropriate for a public school setting.” The letter continued, “In addition, I have shared your letter with Mr. Stoltz and have requested that he discontinue praying prior to staff meetings.”