By Hemant Mehta
Garden City Community College in Kansas just paid out $87,500 to six plaintiffs as part of a settlement involving the conduct of administrators. There were many complaints made against GCCC President Herbert Swender (who was fired in 2018) and his team, but one in particular says they forced faculty members to join them in Christian prayer despite the fact that this is a public school.
The lawsuit also alleged that Swender imposed prayer at mandatory in-service meetings, violating the plaintiffs’ and other employees’ rights to freedom of religion.
Swender, at the beginning of his tenure at GCCC in 2011, regularly arranged for Protestant prayers and only Protestant prayers to be given at the in-service meetings, the suit said.
“The repeated Protestant prayers, the requirement to bow heads, the talk by Pastor (Ricky) Griffin, and the declaration of Pastor (Nathan) Sheridan as the College’s Pastor disturbed Plaintiffs and violated their constitutional rights,” the suit said. “They felt very uncomfortable that their employer, a public entity, was trying to establish Protestant Christianity as the College’s Religion.”
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