Christian School Punishes Pregnant Student Who Chooses Life
“She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed,” said Kristan Hawkins, the Students for Life president, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the administrator of Heritage Academy to reverse the decision. “There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way.”
…Runkles’ story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant students.
…Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.
“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Kempton said. Of Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”
…In 2009, the National Association of Evangelicals, drawing on figures from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reported that 80 percent of young evangelicals engaged in premarital sex. A spokeswoman for the evangelical group said its own research, however, suggested that the figure was much lower.
Slightly more than half of women who have abortions — 54 percent — identify as Christians, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that tracks abortion policy.
Among them is Jessica Klick, 40, the athletic director at Heritage Academy, who has been serving as a mentor to Maddi Runkles. Klick had two abortions, one when she was 20 and the second at 21, after becoming pregnant by a man she later married.
Klick, who has two sons with her husband, said she had spoken openly of her past to Heritage Academy students. She said she had felt pushed into terminating her pregnancies by her own strict religious upbringing. She was terrified of what her parents would think. When she called a clinic for an appointment, she gave a phony name.
“I went into an abortion clinic knowing I shouldn’t, and God was the last thing on my mind,” she said.
….She [Runkles] calls the child “a blessing,” but declined to discuss the baby’s father, except to say that they do not plan to marry and that he does not attend Heritage Academy.
A pregnant 18-year-old star student at a Christian academy who chose to have her baby has been stripped of her leadership positions and informed she will not be able to graduate with her class on June 2 as a result of her pregnancy.
Maddi Runkles is a student with a 4.0 average and has been president of the Student Council and vice president of the Key Club, a community service organization, at Heritage Academy, a Christian school in Hagerstown, Maryland, about 90 minutes outside of Washington, DC.
In mid-January, Runkles found out she was pregnant, and though she has experienced support from her family and her church, the experience at her school has been altogether different.
“It was very stressful because I knew immediately that there were going to be issues at school,” she tells Breitbart News. “I’ve grown up in church and Christian school my whole life, so I knew that getting pregnant at 18 wasn’t going to be looked upon very highly.”
Runkles explains that while other students have broken some of the school’s other rules, she was treated differently.
“We sign a student code at the beginning of each school year that we’ll refrain from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and pre-marital sex, stuff like that,” she says. “And other kids at my school have been caught drunk, defacing public property, and other things like that, but they’ve never suffered a punishment as severe as mine.”
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