Breaking News
More () »

Olean middle school principal criticized for comments made as pastor

Some of the most controversial remarks focus on homosexuality, COVID-19, and even talking about expanding the church into the school systems.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In Cattaraugus County, there are calls for a public school principal, who is also a preacher, to be fired for comments he's made in church.

Those comments have gone viral over the past week.

Joel Whitcher, a senior pastor at Fresh Fire Worship Center in Allegany, is also the principal of Olean Intermediate Middle School.

The church has posted to its YouTube page dozens and dozens of videos showing full worship services. They also stream on Facebook and on the church website.

Over the weekend, someone on Facebook started to piece together some of the most controversial remarks from the pastor and his wife, about homosexuality, COVID-19, and even talking about expanding the church into the school systems.

Pastor Whitcher also said this about Islam: "Muslims, that's outside of the government of God. You need to understand it is a spiritual battle that is going on."

Meanwhile, there is a Change.org petition asking the school district to remove the pastor from his job as principal. It had almost 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

The person who created the petition said, "The student body finds Mr. Whitcher's behavior absolutely intolerable. No administrator that governs an extremely diverse student body has the right to publicly discriminate and hate members of his own community and school."

2 On Your Side sent messages to the superintendent and every single member of the Olean school board. Superintendent Rick Moore is the only one who got back with us.

He said, "I hope you understand that we cannot speak publicly on personnel matters."

2 On Your Side asked Paul Cambria, a constitutional expert who is a partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP here in Buffalo, about the situation on Wednesday's Town Hall. You can watch the interview below.

Before You Leave, Check This Out