NEWARK, Ohio – A video of an Ohio associate pastor inviting physical abuse upon himself by youth “with no repercussions” as part of an after-school Easter message has drawn some ire from parents.
In the video, Jaddeus Dempsey, as associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, is seen being spat upon and slapped. He was also reportedly cut with a steak knife that was given to one male youth.
Videos of the incident were posted to social media during a Monday afternoon after-school event held at the church at which Dempsey was speaking of Easter and the crucifixion.
In one of the videos, Dempsey is seen standing still while students take turns spitting on him, some striking him, while other students are heard laughing.
The mother of a youth, who reportedly employed a knife handed to him by Dempsey to cut the associate pastor at his invitation, said she was alerted to the video by a friend, according to an on-camera interview with WBNS-TV. She went to the church with her husband to get their son.
The mother of that youth, identified only as “Mandy” in the report, said she and her husband would not be sending their son back to the church.
Justin Ross, the church’s pastor acknowledged in the WBNS-TV report that he was present for the event and didn’t step in. “That’s something that I’m thinking about a lot right now…”
In an apology video posted to the church’s Facebook page soon after the incident was made known, Ross is seen in the foreground, with Dempsey behind him.
Ross says, “Each Monday, we invite students to come across the street (from the school), to a place where they can hang out with their friends.”
He said the church offers activities, food, then takes about “five minutes” to share a positive message.
Ross said Dempsey, whom he described as a part-time pastor at the church, chose to “share a message about Easter. He chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic, about the crucifixion. But the illustration went too far. It was inappropriate for the audience we had with students.”
Ross then described Dempsey’s direction to students that they could spit, then slap, and then cut him on his back “without repercussions.”
The pastor said other students recorded all this happening and posted videos to social media.
In the Facebook video, Ross says, “Your reactions are appropriate. Many of you were disgusted. Many of you were hurt by this. Many of you were very confused on why this would be taking place at church, at a youth event. We agree. It was inappropriate for this audience, and there’s really no excuse why this happened.”
Ross then describes what wasn’t on social media.
He said Dempsey then sat down with students and explained to them “about this guy named Jesus, who thousands of years ago, he was put on trial for a crime he didn’t commit. And he was beaten. He was broken. He was whipped. He was crucified, and he died as an innocent man… He chose to allow it to happen…”
He said Dempsey’s illustration was meant to share that message of love. While Dempsey’s “intent was honorable, it wasn’t appropriate for our student gathering today,” Ross said.
Dempsey, who shared the video with Ross on his own Facebook page, said the idea was entirely his own.
Dempsey said several students felt bad afterward… and that “it crossed the line, and it was over the top and…in bad judgment.”
He then apologizes to the church, students and the community. “Tonight, was an anomaly…I’m deeply sorry for the pain I’ve caused.”
Ross told the TV station they will be considering the associate pastor’s future with the church.
Calls to the church were not answered Tuesday.
Read more at usatoday.com.