Midstate school board member disparages Muslims in tweets

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 20, 2016 6:51 PM

Photo by Screenshot by WITF

(Spring Grove) -- A midstate school board member is facing criticism after posting on Twitter the phone number of a church that put up a message offering blessings to Muslims.

Spring Grove Area district board member Matthew Jansen, who is an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention and backs Donald Trump's campaign, is now offering a partial apology.

A little more than a week ago, Jansen questioned why St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown, York County posted a sign offering blessings to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

Jansen left an angry voicemail for the church's pastor, questioning if he was sick, and tweeted the church's phone number with a picture of the sign.

Reverend Christopher Rodkey, is troubled by the incident.

"An elected leader should not be telling what they can, or shouldn't be putting on their sign or teaching," says Rodkey.

Rodkey says he put up the sign to make Muslims feel more welcome.

But he was getting so many angry calls that he had to disconnect the church's phone after Jansen's tweet.

He adds: "I felt that this was grossly inappropriate for a school board member who is entrusted with the education and protection of children in school districts."

For his part, Jansen tweeted an apology for involving the church.


Photo by Screenshot by WITF

But he did not address other offensive tweets he's sent out recently, disparaging Muslims.


Photo by Screenshot by WITF


Photo by Screenshot by WITF


"What is frustrating to me is the fact that we live in a society right now where people can put what he puts on twitter and think that that's okay and be an elected leader in a community having to do with the education of children," says Rev. Rodkey.

Rodkey says there needs to be a conversation about what people expect from their elected officials.

Jansen did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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