Johnston County high school teacher catches flak for response to sign encouraging prayer

Johnston County News

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) — A Johnston County teacher is in the spotlight for how he responded to a Bible verse a student group posted in the hallway at West Johnston High School.

Students said the group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, posted it inside Tuesday.

The verse said, “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.”

“They put posters up all the time, and like, mornings before school, as we’re walking in, they do prayer at the poles and they pray every morning and stuff,” said senior Madison Moreth.

Then came the response.

“If you are sick you should go to the doctor. This is terrible medical advice. Some people have died/ gone to jail because of it.”

It was signed by Mr. VanDerlaske and included his room number.

Next to that, students said he posted an article titled, “Parents given jail terms for relying on prayers to save dying daughter.”

VanDerlaske was named Teacher of the Year in Johnston County in 2018.

The district said he has been employed with them since 2013.

“You should do both. That’s just my opinion. I’m not judging him for what he said. I feel like he’s an excellent teacher. That’s just his opinion,” said senior Jimmie Gist.

“The Bible verse was just. It could be applied to anything. Because a lot of the seniors are talking about how stressed they are about college applications,” Moreth added.

In a statement, the district wrote:

“My staff and I are aware of this situation. We have copies of the social media posts. Our Human Resources Department along with the Area Assistant Superintendent are working with the school principal to fully investigate the facts and decide on an appropriate response.”

CBS 17 called and emailed VanDerlaske for comment, but has not yet heard back.

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