DOWNINGTOWN, Pa — An assistant principal at Downingtown STEM Academy has been placed on administrative leave after a video captured him screaming and cursing at two teenage abolitionists outside the school Friday afternoon.
Sixteen-year-old Conner Haines and his 19-year-old sister Lauren went to the school to talk to students about the abortion holocaust and share the Gospel with them. Abolitionists frequently take signs and literature to the public sidewalks outside high schools as part of Project Frontlines, a nationwide effort to expose high school students to the evil of abortion, challenge their worldviews, and show the way of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. The siblings brought three signs, bearing messages such as “We Are Attempting to Bring Your Apathy Into Conflict With Their Death” and “We Are Ambassadors of Jesus Christ, Pleading from God, a Message of Reconciliation”.
The pair said they had only been on the sidewalk for a few minutes when Assistant Principal Zach Ruff approached them. A video of the confrontation captured by Conner Haines shows Haines calmly reasoning with Ruff, who appeared visibly agitated from the beginning of the conversation.
Haines tried to explain that he was there to raise awareness about the holocaust. Pointing at his sign, on which was a photo of a murdered preborn child, Haines said, “Sir, these are image bearers of God.”
“You can go to hell, where they are too,” Ruff answered, gesturing to the child on the sign. He then turned and stood in front of the sign to prevent passing drivers from being exposed to its message.
Moments later, Ruff approached Haines again, and standing mere inches from the 16-year-old’s face, accused him of “harassing teenagers.”
Though Haines maintained his composure throughout the incident, he said Ruff’s aggressive behavior surprised him. “When [Ruff] was up in my face my heart started beating crazy fast. But I wasn’t really scared because I had my camera running, there were many people watching, and God has always protected me in the past,” Haines told The Liberator. “I wasn’t expecting so much hostility at a local school. I remember praying quickly for wisdom.”
When the abolitionists encouraged Ruff to turn to Jesus Christ and be free of his sin, Ruff laughed and announced, “listen here son… I’m as gay as the day is long, and twice as sunny. I don’t give a [expletive] what you think Jesus tells me, and what I should and should not be doing.”
Ruff’s behavior continued to escalate as Haines began speaking to passing students. “Shut your mouth and don’t talk to my students. You do not have permission to speak and engage,” he shouted, hands shaking as he repeatedly thrust his forefinger at Haines. Despite Haines’s attempts to point out that he was exercising free speech on public property, Ruff repeated, “No you do not. You are harrassing public school students and I will call the police if you don’t shut up.”
Eventually Ruff became so incensed that he wrenched Haines’s sign from his hands, screaming repeatedly, “Do not talk to my students!”
As Haines preached the Gospel to passersby, Ruff interjected “Public school, we don’t believe in that here.” In the unedited video, Ruff can even be seen loudly singing, shouting unintelligibly and dancing to drown out the abolitionists’ voices.
Watch the video below see the example Ruff sets for his students as he demonstrates how to engage opposing worldviews, or click here to see the longer, unedited version.
After the release of the video, Ruff was placed on administrative leave while the school conducts an investigation into his behavior, according to a statement posted this morning on the Downingtown STEM Academy Facebook page.
According to the school’s statement, “We do not condone or support the conduct expressed in the video and are deeply disappointed that this incident occurred. His conduct does not represent the values of the school district or the respect we expect our employees to show for the civil rights of others.”