- An Ohio church is apologizing over a video on social media showing young students spitting on a pastor, slapping his face, and slicing him with a steak knife.
- The pastor said later he had urged the students to do so, in an effort to teach them a lesson about the crucifixion.
- “My intention was to show them how much Jesus loved them and I loved them as a student leader for almost four years now,” pastor Jaddeus Dempsey said.
- The church said Tuesday that its board of directors is investigating the incident.
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Leaders at an Ohio church apologised profusely on Monday after a disturbing video showed a pastor encouraging young students to spit in his face, slap him, and even slice his shirtless back with what appeared to be a steak knife.
Pastor Jaddeus Dempsey of the Impact City Church in Pataskala said in an apology video he had done it to teach a lesson about Easter and the love that Jesus felt for mankind as he willingly endured crucifixion.
“This was completely my idea. Again, I let the students know there was no repercussions whatsoever,” Dempsey said. “In fact, even several of the students felt bad afterwards, and I told them it was what I had asked them to do.”
The video shows a group of rowdy students surrounding the pastor as he silently endures the spitting and the slaps. At times, students can be heard jeering, laughing, and asking if they can take another turn. At other times, they urge one another to stop.
After the spitting and slapping, Dempsey takes off his shirt and picks up a steak knife.
“Are you serious?” one student says.
“Don’t do it hard,” another urges.
At one point an adult approaches the group of students, only to tell them not to cut Dempsey too deeply.
“I’m serious, I’m serious, you’ve got to be very gentle,” he says.
Several students pass the knife off to one another, reluctant to hurt Dempsey, before one lightly slices his shoulder blade.
The students can be heard arguing with one another – some urged the child with the knife to draw blood, while others told him to stop.
“Yeah it’s bleeding,” one student says before the video cuts out.
The church’s board of directors is investigating
The Impact City Church said in a statement Tuesday that its board of directors has launched a review and investigation, and the church will fully implement their recommendations.
In the church’s apology video, the lead pastor Justin Ross said the incident was “inappropriate” and had gone “too far” in teaching students about the crucifixion.
“Many of you were disgusted. Many of you were hurt by this, many of you were very confused at why this would be taking place at a church. We agree, it was inappropriate for this audience,” he said, while adding that Dempsey’s intent was “honorable” and important to consider.
“After Jaddeus allowed them to spit on him and slap him and cut him, he sat them down and he explained to them about this guy named Jesus, who thousands of years ago was put on trial for a crime that he didn’t commit,” Ross said. “And he was beaten, he was broken, and he was whipped, he was crucified. He died as an innocent man. We believe that Jesus had the power at any point to stop them, to stop those that were hurting him. But he chose to allow it to happen.”
Dempsey apologised to the parents and students involved, and said he was sorry for misrepresenting the church.
“My intention was to show them how much Jesus loved them and I loved them as a student leader for almost four years now,” he said. “Tonight was an anomaly, it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”
Parents were reportedly infuriated by the incident. One couple – whose son was handed the knife at one point in the video – told WBNS-10TV they had reached out to the local sheriff’s office to investigate, and would not send their son back to the church.
“I do want an apology, a personal apology, not an apology all over Facebook,” the mother said. “I think they should personally apologise to all the kids involved, and their parents.”
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