A church in Ohio is apologizing for an “inappropriate” Easter lesson in which a pastor urged students to spit on him, slap him and cut him with a steak knife.
Impact City Church lead pastor Justin Ross and part-time associate pastor Jaddeus Dempsey went on Facebook to publicly apologize to students who were part of the unusual after-school activity Monday.
Dempsey was leading a group of middle and high school students who were part of the church’s weekly “After School Student Hangouts” when he decided to share his message with students about Easter, in a way which he later said, “crossed the line”.
“Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he said, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,’ ” Ross said on social media, describing the event.
Some students took him up on his offer. Then, he told them they could slap him. Several did. Finally, Dempsey pulled out a steak knife and set the same conditions. One student took the knife and sliced his back.
Students pulled out their phones and began posting on social media. Videos of that day show the students lining up before the pastor and taking turns spitting on his face while others laugh.
The illustration went too far, Ross said. “the reactions are appropriate,” Ross said. “Many of you were disgusted, many of you were hurt by this, many of you were very confused.” Even though the activity was inappropriate, he said, the “intent was honorable.”
After letting them spit, slap and cut him, Dempsey sat students down and talked to them about Jesus, his trial and crucifixion and how he was “beaten, he was broken, he was whipped, he was crucified and he died as an innocent man,” Ross said.
Ross said the church does not condone that students or anyone should spit or slap others, or “use a weapon to harm anyone or to harm themselves.”