Pastor Alvin Dupree who serves on the Appleton, Wisconsin school board, says he's facing a tougher fight now than he did on the battlefield during the twenty years he served as a Marine.
Dupree vows he will not back down from speaking about Jesus despite pressure to do so. "This is who I am," he told CBN News, "I will not be silenced."
Dupree spoke at the Appleton North High School graduation last spring, at which time he spoke about the value of leaning on God through difficult times. Dupree was referring to the suicides of two students that year. One of those students was Erika Winkler. Her mother told CBN News her daughter was bullied for her faith, and that contributed to her suicide.
Regarding Dupree's commencement address, the school superintendent received a number of complaints saying Dupree's expression of his devotion to God was offensive. One woman told the superintendent she felt it was inappropriate that Dupree mentioned God, Lord or Jesus "no less than five times" in a public high school graduation ceremony and said the pastor's speech was "like a sermon."
Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation is threatening to sue the district because of Dupree's comments. That is the national organization with the express purpose to "promote non-theism and defend the constitutional separation between religion and government. " In a November 16, 2017 letter to Appleton School Superintendent Judy Baseman, the FFRC took issue with Dupree's graduation comments and remarks he made to a local political group entitled, "Placing God in the Classroom."
The letter stated, "We are aware that at least some of Dupree's religious comments were made in reference to the family of a recently deceased student. Students who have just lost a classmate are uniquely vulnerable to religious coercion, highlighting the importance of the school district remaining religiously neutral when discussing such a sensitive topic." The letter requested the district provide written assurances that Dupree will not promote religion if he speaks at District events in the future, including graduation ceremonies.
Dupree said so far he has not been asked by the school superintendent or other school board members to tone down his rhetoric, but can't say they won't in the future.
"I can't say they won't tell me to stop talking about Jesus," he said, "but I can tell you I won't do it."