A teacher from the Susquehanna Township School District who attended a rally in Washington, DC on the day a mob violently invaded the United States Capitol, said an online petition calling for his dismissal is unfair.
Jason Berry, a physical education teacher in the district for seven years, said he had traveled to the nation’s capital to pray for the country and had done nothing illegal.
“Christian friends went with me to pray in Washington and that’s exactly what we did,” Berry said. “We prayed and worshiped Jesus. We were not among the small percentage of people who attacked the capital building, but rather the millions who gathered peacefully. Images of us praying and worshiping God were broadcast on a Christian news network. “
After a video of Berry in Washington, DC was posted to social media, an online petition has been launched calling for his dismissal. It has collected more than 5,000 signatures. The district superintendent posted a video on the school system’s website explaining that there would be an investigation into the case, and petition organizers said they had achieved their goal.
The petitioners said they had no evidence Berry entered Capitol Hill or broke any laws.
“A friend of mine enthusiastically posted the video of us to social media news,” Berry said in a statement. “One person decided to copy the post and make defamatory statements about me in which they demanded that I be immediately fired from my job. “
Berry said he believed he “was being persecuted for my faith in Jesus Christ.”
Susquehanna Township officials did not immediately respond to questions on Friday about the status of their investigation.
“I am very grateful that the Susquehanna Township School District took the time to investigate the case and review all of the evidence,” Berry said. “Susquehanna is world class and I am honored to serve there.”
Here is Berry’s statement in full:
My name is Jason Berry and I am a veteran, teacher and youth pastor. I see my reputation assaulted and my career slandered because of prayer for our great nation.
I took a personal day on January 6, 2021 to go to Washington, DC and pray for our nation as it is written: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn away. of their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their land ”2nd Chronicles 7:14.
This personal day was approved in advance by the Susquehanna Township School District. I also took time off the next day to visit my grandmother who was on her deathbed. She died the next morning.
I traveled with Christian friends to pray in Washington. We were not among the small percentage of people who attacked the Capitol building. We were one of the millions who gathered peacefully. Images of us praying and worshiping were broadcast on a large Christian news network.
A friend of mine enthusiastically posted the video of us featured on social media. One person decided to copy the post and make defamatory statements about me in which they demanded that I be immediately fired from my job.
The reality of the problem, as documented by the defamatory statements, was that I was being persecuted for my faith in Jesus Christ with the false assumption that everyone in Washington was a terrorist. False claims multiplied on social media as the individual tried to ruin my reputation as a teacher and destroy my career. This led to someone taking screenshots of the video (not showing the video of us praying) and creating a petition to get me sent back where they called me “insurgent” and of an “anti-democratic bully” just because I went to Washington.
The accusers failed to mention that the video was of us praying and said my actions did not “represent the diverse student body” of Susquehanna. If you watch the video or the photo of my friends, we are as diverse as we can get. As a Christian, I see everyone created in the image and likeness of God.
The outrageous petition to get me fired was online. Most of the people who signed the petition have never met me. Many live outside of Pennsylvania and only read a slanderous account of what happened.
I am very grateful that the Susquehanna Township School District took the time to investigate the case and review all the evidence. Susquehanna is world class and I am honored to serve there. It was my constitutional right to pray for my country and I took an approved personal day to do so. I will have no disciplinary action against me, and my God has delivered me from the lion’s den.
To the hundreds who have supported me, thank you! To those of you who have slandered my name to this community: I have collected evidence from the start and have received legal advice that assures me that I have every right to sue you for slander, libel and punitive damages. Instead, I have chosen to forgive you and to pray for you. This is my true character.
Veteran, author, school teacher and pastor
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