There have been a lot of stories this week about James Corbett, a history teacher at a public high school in California. A Christian student of his, Chad Farnan, had claimed Corbett was being hostile to religion in class.
Corbett had spoken about his “unequivocal belief that creationism is superstitious nonsense” — of course, that is absolutely true. Nevertheless, Judge James Selna said there “was no legitimate secular purpose to the statement and it constituted ‘improper disapproval of religion in violation of the establishment clause.’”
I don’t understand that. Corbett was a European History teacher, but I hope every legitimate, educated Science teacher would say the same thing.
I was more disturbed by the many other things Corbett said against religion (PDF) — the judge, though, said most of those comments did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
When I first heard about this lawsuit a year ago, I wrote that I (unfortunately) had to side with the student. Comments for or against religion — outside the context of the class — have no place in a public school classroom. I don’t know why Corbett was talking about religion… maybe he was provoked. But it doesn’t matter. He can’t let himself get off-topic like that.
Despite the fact that I agree with Corbett’s statement on Creationism (and several of his other comments), it’s hard for me to say he was correct to say them in class.
I know if this were a Christian teacher saying pro-Christian comments, we’d be furious. Why is it ok for this teacher to give his opinions against religion (even if you agree with them)?