Illinois Family Institute Goes After Me Again

The Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins is going after me (and my job) again.

… parents really should spend some time perusing… math teacher, Hemant Mehta’s website to determine whether he is the kind of man with whom they want their children to spend a school year. He absolutely has a First Amendment right to promote any feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral ideas he wants via his blog, but, as I mentioned in my earlier article, parents have the right not to have him as a teacher and a role model for their children. I want to be very clear about what I’m suggesting: I am suggesting that parents who have serious concerns about Mr. Mehta’s potential influence on their children’s beliefs politely insist that their children be placed in another teacher’s class.

Of all the reasons I’ve ever heard for kids wanting to switch teachers, I’ve never heard anyone say, “That teacher’s private life disturbs me.”

Maybe she’s upset that no parent has complained yet. Or maybe she’s upset that parents actually thank me for teaching their child math because, for the first time in the kid’s life, he or she is actually excited about the subject.

(Or maybe she’s upset that even Christians are supporting me on this matter.)

But how dare I be good at my job while also being a vocal, out atheist! (Can you imagine the field day she’d be having if I were gay?)

Since she can’t attack me for preaching atheism in the classroom (because I would never do that), her only fodder is the material I write on this website. And, apparently, the things I don’t write on this website…

Mr. Mehta has several regular contributors to his blog, one of whom is Richard Wade. On August 18, a young woman calling herself “Poly,”–short for “polyamory”–wrote to Richard Wade for some relationship advice. Here is the letter from “Poly” followed by the response from Mr. Mehta’s regular contributor:

Although Mr. Mehta did not write this blog entry, he posted it on his blog, so one can reasonably assume–as his students might–that he endorses the ideas expressed by his regular contributor.

Richard Wade’s comments have always been appreciated by readers. I know his inbox has been getting swamped with advice requests. But I have no idea how his opinions have anything to do with me and my job. I’ve posted interviews with Lee Strobel on this site. Do I endorse his ideas? Absolutely not.

(If Higgins wanted to attack me for allowing polygamy to be discussed on this site, how on earth did she miss this post? And how did she miss the posting where I– oh, I’ll let her find the other stuff. She doesn’t seem to have anything better to do.)

She’s also mad that I linked to sex columnist Dan Savage:

And finally, there’s the blog entry in which Mr. Mehta cheerfully encourages his readers to visit the obscene column of homosexual activist Dan Savage who urges a young man to act upon the same-sex attractions he is struggling to resist because of his faith. Here’s an excerpt from the Savage column that Hemant Mehta recommends on his blog:

Savage is hilarious, realistic, and, yes, sex-positive.

I don’t recall handing out a printed version of his column to my students, though… maybe Higgins can remind me of when I did that.

Some parents fail to understand the adolescent mind: they fail to understand that teens are often predisposed to affirm the ideas of adults whom they find cool or personable or funny or iconoclastic. Those parents, no matter what their personal beliefs, will likely be comfortable with their children in Mr. Mehta’s class.

Some parents may be ideological kindred spirits with Mr. Mehta. Those parents may relish the idea of their children being impressed by Mr. Mehta and influenced by his subversive ideas.

But those parents who are troublied by the ideas Mr. Mehta expresses, posts on his blog, and endorses, and who recognize that their teens may be predisposed to look favorably on his ideas merely because they like him, may want to ensure their teens have another math teacher.

It’s all about diversity and choice.

Would anyone care to explain that last line to me? Her idea of diversity and choice seems to be that children should have only teachers who share their religious and social viewpoints.

On the bright side, I suppose I can thank Ms. Higgins for calling me cool, personable, funny, and iconoclastic. (As one reader suggested, I can use it as a blurb for my next book.)

Speaking of which, she didn’t mention my first book this time either! How many times do I have to ask?

Just for the record, Ms. Higgins: The book is called I Sold My Soul on eBay. It can be bought on Amazon. And I’m pretty sure it should be on every banned books list. Thanks in advance.

  • Pete in the Netherlands

    That woman is pure evil and spite and I’ve emailed her expressing my utter contempt and disgust for her, her organisation and everything it stands for.

    I doubt she’ll listen… me being a gay happy atheist in a solid relationship in Europe where we have a social health care plan that works for everyone…. she’ll probably freak at the thought and try and get me the sack as well !!!

    Hopefully her ‘campaign” and drivel will get the response it deserves…NONE

  • stephen

    Just ignore her, she’s not going to go away and all you’re doing is just adding fuel to the fire. She’s the kind of gigantic toolbag that won’t be happy until porn is illegal, all the gays have been forcefully exported to France, and Christianity is the national religion. She’s just trying to draw you out into a public fight which _will_ affect your employment. Just continue on operating the site posting whatever the hell you want, but stop engaging the idiots, it’s a huge waste of time and you’re just preaching to the choir. No matter how logical your/our arguments, nothing will change this woman’s mind.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Perhaps she should go live in a religious country, and I’m thinking somewhere like Saudi here, and find out what really living in a theocracy is like. And being female, she’s also learn a thing or two about what it’s like to be discriminated.

    Again, we have an unwarranted bigoted attack on Hemant. Her attitude is utterly un-Christian.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I want to be very clear about what I’m suggesting: I am suggesting that parents who have serious concerns about Mr. Mehta’s potential influence on their children’s beliefs politely insist that their children be placed in another teacher’s class.

    It bears repeating that this is a transparent lie. If this were all she was concerned about, she would have left the school administration out of this entirely. Her goal is to get Hemant fired, because she thinks anyone with views she disagrees with is dangerous and shouldn’t have the right to teach children.

    But those parents who are troublied by the ideas Mr. Mehta expresses, posts on his blog, and endorses, and who recognize that their teens may be predisposed to look favorably on his ideas merely because they like him, may want to ensure their teens have another math teacher.

    And she would love to have them ensure this by contacting his bosses and trying to get him fired.

  • Jeff Flowers

    I feel sorry for those who must endure Laurie Higgins. Everything I have seen her write leads me to believe that she is a small minded woman.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-8922-Portland-Skepticism-Examiner Charlie

    Remember, though. She’s only getting personal because to her and those like her, everything in the world is personal. She’d never admit it, but in her mind, it is a personal affront to her that you don’t share her beliefs.

  • http://mypainhurts.blogspot.com bd

    How dare you have subversive ideas! In America! This country was founded on towing the line and strictly obeying the people in charge, after all.

  • Eric

    Where’d they find that bad-ass picture of you they attached to their article? If they wanted to make you seem cool, personable, funny, and iconoclastic, that picture’s a good start.

  • http://mattcbr.wordpress.com Matt

    It seems a fairly typical religious line; you’re free to say whatever you like and do whatever you like … as long as it’s christian.

  • http://www.epicure.demon.co.uk Chris Hughes

    Well, I suppose some things might be described as ‘offensive’ but only if someone is really keen to be offended. Just what have you ever published that could be termed ‘immoral’?

    I understand there is no mention of the word ‘moral’ or ‘morality’ in the bible, by the way…

  • Sackbut

    Of all the reasons I’ve ever heard for kids wanting to switch teachers, I’ve never heard anyone say, “That teacher’s private life disturbs me.”

    I have heard of such things. I have heard of teachers getting in trouble with some parents because of risque pictures on Myspace pages, and for being photographed nude by a professional artistic photographer who posted on flickr. I have heard of parents complaining because a teacher is an atheist, or gay. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

    I think it’s great you took this opportunity to illustrate the confusion between endorsing a point of view and providing a forum for someone to express a point of view. Goodness, does she think newspapers endorse all the viewpoints in letters to advice columns, the columns themselves, and letters to the editor?

    I agree with those who suggest you ignore her. It appears she is going to continue to write about you, probably again soon in response to this blog entry. I doubt it is possible for her to look any more ridiculous and infantile than she already does.

  • Beth

    This woman has no idea what teens are like, at least in my opinion.
    I honestly don’t give two shits about my maths teachers political and religious views. He teaches me maths and that’s it. I certainly wouldn’t be heavily influenced (or really influenced in any way) if I happened across a blog he wrote.

  • Todd

    Personal message to Laurie Higgins.

    We are everywhere. Hemant may be the only one you know, but I can assure you that your children hold secrets. They know many more of us. And here’s the part that makes me all warm and happy inside. The more they are exposed to us, the lower they will value your opinion.

    Laurie, you’re only hope for your children is to lock them in the attic until they turn 21.

    (cue mad scientist laugh)

  • William

    Hey if parents do pull their kid out of your class at least you get a lower class size. Just trying to be positive.

  • Matto the Hun

    Personal message for rational, decent, good natured Christians supporting Hemant (and by extensional all of us)… you guys friggin’ rock!

    Thanks

  • ???????

    wow.

    i agree with the above comment, she should go live in a religious country. here she has a little too much freedom. bye bye.

  • Chal

    I’m not really a fan of lawsuits, but at what point does this become libel or defamation? She really seems like she’s out to get Hemant fired.

  • Talley

    … parents really should spend some time perusing… math teacher, Hemant Mehta’s website to determine whether he is the kind of man with whom they want their children to spend a school year [emphasis added].

    Hey, at least she’s giving your website more traffic!

  • Neal O

    Hi Hemant

    ..promote any feckless, destructive, offensive, and immoral ideas he wants via his blog…

    Been reading your blog for a while and never come across anything like this written by you. Keep up the good blogging.

  • Kate

    Just a few comments:

    1) The Christians supporting Hemant (Pastor Keith, Justin – HI JUSTIN!!!!, etc.) – you guys are awesome! I can’t speak for other atheists, but if all Christians were like you, the world would be just peachy. :)

    2) Richard Wade is badass for maintaining a legal fund for Hemant. Hemant, you can count on me for a few bucks added to that in case it ever comes down to it – don’t worry!

    3) I hope this helps your book sales SKYROCKET! :)

  • TJ

    Some parents fail to understand the adolescent mind: they fail to understand that teens are often predisposed to affirm the ideas of adults whom they find cool or personable or funny or iconoclastic.

    Which allows them to be brainwashed into religious dogma and bigotry.

    But there’s nothing wrong with that according to these people. Believe what we believe, or else! Individuality and free thinking be damned! No religious views in the classroom… unless it’s our religion.

    I find it strange that comments are not allowed on that site. Gee, I wonder why? :)

  • Randy

    I agree with both suggestions, ignore her but have a lawyer primed and in the know just in case. If things do hit the fan you’ll need to move quick. Hope that doesn’t happen.

  • http://logofveritas.blogspot.com Veritas

    Yep, I do hope this doesn’t turn legal, Hemant, but you gotta be ready for it if it does. Of course, we here in the “blogosphere” will support you. Perhaps a red-caped Cory Doctorow will fly to your rescue. But most likely you’ll need to have a lawyer ready to go.

    Unlike people who are reasonable, I don’t think any of us should bother emailing Ms. Higgins. She’s going to use this as a personal crusade against atheism in the schools, and it’s pretty obvious she’s going to try and form a schwerpunkt around Hemant. As long as he keeps being sane and humorous about the situation, it’ll turn out okay.

  • http://tuibguy.com Mike Haubrich, FCD

    @ william – It’s also possible that the cool parents will request Hemant be their kids’ math teacher.

  • eL_sTiKo

    Dear Mizz Higgins:

    You are being subversive to us. Please stop.

    Smiles and Lollipops,

    The Nice People Who Attempt to Share Earth with You.

  • ChameleonDave

    You really live in a scary country.

  • Ian Howell

    You are being dishonest — Ms. Higgins does NOT call for you to be fired. She suggests that parents OPT their children from your class and influence. In my opinion, this is a reasonable suggestion.

  • http://logofveritas.blogspot.com Veritas

    @Ian -you apparently missed the first post, where Hemant revealed that Ms. Higgins’s first, private tactic against Hemant was to email all his superiors complaining about his private life. She then switched to public press releases.

    So yeah…she has pretty much lodged complaints against him with the obvious intent of affecting Hemant’s professional life.

  • Ian Howell

    Complaining to one’s superiors doesn’t automatically mean that she is asking for him to be fired.

    Do you or Hemant have any evidence that Ms. Higgins asked for him to be dismissed? If not, you are merely speculating…

  • Pete in the Netherlands

    @Ian

    May I respectfully request that

    1) you read both posts fully and slowly (I know there’s some big words there)
    2) retract the dishonest comment as it’s clearly false and finally
    3) crawl back into the hole you came out of

    have a nice day y’all :-)

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Yes it’s nice to see Christians coming out in support of Hemant. That makes me happy. I have no problems at all with those Christians.

    Because, what it comes down to is that people are people. There are good people, who you’d be happy to have teach your kids math, because they’re great people like Hemant. And then there are not so nice people. People who you’d really wish to avoid.

    It’s not about belief or disbelief, or atheism, theism or pantheism or polytheism. It’s about people who are only are not bigoted, who are not racist or homophobic. It’s about people who can live together and not fight or kill or be nasty, and those that find it difficult to live in a peaceful society.

  • zoo

    Huh. I’ve taken math up through college calc 1 and somehow I missed the lessons on subversive math. Is that something new?

    I have to wonder if this woman’s ever been in a math classroom if she thinks there’s time to go off on tangents about all the “unsavory” topics she mentions.

  • Ian Howell

    How very tolerant of you Pete!

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    Ian:

    You’re bitching about Pete’s intolerance when you, yourself, are sucking up to a paragon of intolerance. So forgive my observation, but you’re “accommodating” the problem.

    Or am I being intolerant?

  • bronwynm23

    I like the new picture! However, as a suggestion, don’t use it on social networking sites if you want to attract a woman. It’s too standoff-ish.

  • http://camelswithhammers.com Daniel Fincke

    Her idea of diversity and choice seems to be that children should have only teachers who share their religious and social viewpoints.

    Now that’s just wrong, her idea of diversity and choice is clearly not that children have only teachers who share their religious and social viewpoints. You’re completely mischaracterizing her.

    Her position is that diversity and choice means that children have only teachers who share their parents’ religious and social viewpoints. What the children themselves think in all of this is irrelevant and to be overruled in all instances by their parents. She explicitly recognizes that these teenagers might actually agree with you but and their minds must be protected from such independent thought. So, it’s even worse than you said!

  • grazatt

    Hemant, keep doing what you are doing, but do get some legal advice in case this donkey’s anus of a woman’s malicious plans come to fruition.

  • Laurie Higgins

    Dear Mr. Mehta,

    You wrote, “The Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins is going after me (and my job) again.”

    I have never in any context suggested that you should be fired or that you should resign. In fact, I don’t believe the school has any legal right to fire you. You should have fact-checked before you posted that factually inaccurate statement.

    In addition, I have repeatedly stated that you have a First Amendment right to make whatever public statements you want on any topic. I have also made it abundantly clear that my goal is to provide information to District 204 parents–particularly IFI readers—about the nature of the ideas you express and endorse on your public blog so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they want their children to spend a school year under your tutelage.

    In my first, brief email to your administrators and school board, I did not, as one of your blog commenters suggested, call for you to be fired. I notified them that you made the public, vindictive, irresponsible, and unprofessional suggestion that the Kiss-In would be even better if it took place in front of my home.

    You fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.

    If students search your name and come upon your blog, they will be exposed to your endorsement and promotion of many ideas that parents may find deeply troubling. If students have you as their teacher, like you, and develop a relationship with you—as happens often in high school—they will be more likely to look favorably on and be influenced by your ideas than those students who have no connection with you. This is the reason that many parents care deeply about role models.

    It’s the reason there were some recent stories about parents being upset that a high school cheerleading coach posed in her private life for Playboy magazine, or why some parents would not want their children in the class of a teacher who in their free time on a public forum promotes racist views or denies the historicity of the Holocaust.

    It’s probably the same reason that three years ago a well-known homosexual blogger informed my former superintendent that I had been interviewed on Moody Radio on the topic of homosexuality. During my last three years at Deerfield High School, there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality who wrote publicly and contacted my administration about my unfitness as a role model for students—and I worked in the writing center where I had no classes.

    In my second article about you, I concluded by saying that some parents may not view teachers as potentially influential role models for their children, and therefore those parents will be fine with you as their children’s teacher.

    I said that other parents may believe that teachers are potential influences but agree with your public promotion of polyamory, homosexuality, “sex-positivity,” and the non-existence of God, in which case they may love for you to become a role model in their children’s lives.

    But other parents, perhaps some Jewish, Muslim, or Christian parents, may have concerns about the adults with whom their children spend time, develop relationships, and who may potentially influence their children and may also have significant disagreement with the ideas you promote on your public blog. Those parents are entitled to sufficient information to make informed choices about the very public activities of their children’s teachers—something that for some odd reason seems to offend you.

    Mr. Mehta, this is at least the second time that you have made inaccurate statements about me without evidence (the first was in your blog entry following your attendance at my presentation at Wheaton Bible Church). If you cannot produce one piece of evidence from my writing to support your claim that I am “going after” your job, then please retract that statement.

  • Randy

    Her statement:

    “It’s all about diversity and choice.”

    proves there isn’t a god. If there was she would have been struck by lightning, frogs or something.

    And tell Ms. Higgins, er.., Ian s/he isn’t fooling anyone.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    I think she’s actually trying to secure your job for you. If, for some strange reason, the administration does fire you then you have plenty of ammunition for a law suit claiming discrimination on the grounds of religion. How very sweet of her.

    Also she’s doing a lot to raise awareness for atheists. People will read about how you enjoy the taste of fresh fried babies but when they meet you they’ll realise that such a thing is preposterous (you boil babies) and become more accepting of atheists. Such kindness.

    I do hope you remember your godless given manners and thank her. :)

    Yarr!

  • Pete in the Netherlands

    She showed her true colours (notice the correct spelling!!) there when she stated “there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality”

    Dear Laurie dear….. by the statement you indicate that you think homosexuality abnormal. There’s a word for people like you..BIGOT.

    I suggest you read that book of fairy tales you quote ad nauseam on your so called website and read up about the bits on “love” and “tolerance” and “love they neighbour”

    I also take as you seem to follow every letter of that book that you quote and love so much that you don’t wear leather or cotton at the same time? you lock yourself away for 5 days of the month that you are “unclean” ?.and I’m interested according to Leviticus you can sell your daughter ? What’s the going rate for her as I could with a maid ????

  • Randy

    Here we go, the christian persecution complex is starting to flow. Never mind she sent cowardly emails to boss and school board in the hope of “scaring” them into some reactionary move. She’s become aware of the massive amount of support you have and it scares her. Sad example of a “good” christian.

  • JulietEcho

    Ms. Higgins:

    If you’re not interested in getting Hemant fired, and if you admit that everything he’s doing is legal and Constitutional, then why on earth would you contact his employers about any of this?

    I can see putting out a warning to parents from your organization (although if you want to warn them about every likable teacher who promotes values you find offensive, you’ve got a long road ahead of you), but I don’t see what his employers have to do with any of that. Do you expect *them* to send out letters to parents, warning them that their kids might look up Hemant’s site?

    Any attention you continue to focus on Hemant’s beliefs will only lead to more traffic for his website, and possibly more interest from his current and former students.

    If you were truly only interested in an apology from Hemant and/or warning parents about his website, then you would not have contacted his employers. He didn’t make the “offensive” remark about the kiss-in in the context of his job in any way, and again, you’ve admitted that he’s not breaking any laws or terms of employment.

    That is why Hemant has every right to his suspicion that you are trying to get him fired.

  • http://camelswithhammers.com Daniel Fincke

    I have to say though, she is fair to Hemant in one way, she chose a pretty bad-ass photo to put with her article. Now I want to have him for my math teacher.

  • beckster

    May I suggest that all schools create a flyer at the beginning of the school year that details all the private outside activities of all the teachers in a school so every parent can make a decision about which teachers they want their precious children exposed to? Maybe Mrs. Smith enjoys browsing the single ads even though she’s married. Perhaps Mr. Jones once wrote a term paper on the benefits of the legalization of marijuana. Suppose Mrs. Williams is going through a nasty divorce and is in therapy. We should be made aware of these things. After all, it’s for the children.

    We as parents should be told all private details of the lives of teachers so we can only allow our children to talk to people who are exact replicas of ourselves and save them from the horror of being acquainted with people different from their parents.

  • nonfictions

    Hemant, you’ve handled the situation calmly and very well. Great job and I hope she goes away (after making a food of herself, of course). I’m glad you’re not letting her get under your nails and disrupt your life, but you’re still addressing her ludicrous claims with tact and humor :)

  • TJ

    You fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.

    and you clearly didn’t read my earlier comment where I debunked, or rather clarified this statement from another angle. You can replace the word “teachers” to any other adult figure and my point still stands.

    I’m surprised you had the balls to actually post here. Now could you enable comments on your side and provide linkbacks to this site? Oh no, of course not. Only one side of the discussion allowed on your site!

    Stay classy Mrs. Higgins. Keep giving this publicity and making yourself look all the more foolish to us rational people.

  • TJ

    We as parents should be told all private details of the lives of teachers so we can only allow our children to talk to people who are exact replicas of ourselves and save them from the horror of being acquainted with people different from their parents.

    Privacy be damned. Assuming the teachers tell the truth in the first place.

    So who would be left? Pastors and ministers? Who needs schools when you can just send them to church to learn the “truth”?

    But just don’t leave them there alone. We all heard about the thing with the choir boys a few years back, or are you pretending that doesn’t exist like everything else that disproves your circle of lies?

  • Rest

    I would just like to echo the “thanks yous!” to the nice Christians for supporting Hemant. Even though I’m atheist, I don’t always agree with everything posted on his site, but that’s freedom of speech. At least I get to read things from other points of view. This lady has a personal vendetta against Hemant, and I think she should really think about what she’s doing and how much she is damaging the image of Christianity as a loving religion. You’re doing much harm.

  • Neon Genesis

    Doesn’t the bible also say that women should not be allowed to preach to men and that they should keep silent before them? Quote from 1 Timothy “I permit no woman* to teach or to have authority over a man;* she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor”

    So why is Laurie Higgins preaching to Hemant when she’s not supposed to? Wasn’t there also something in the bible about plucking the shards out of your own eye first?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    After Ms. Higgins letters and rationalizations, Jesus must be rolling in his unmarked grave. I don’t think Ms. Higgins actions are what Jesus would do.

    If she wants full disclosure to parents of every teacher’s life outside the classroom, she should just advocate home schooling on her blog and cease her interference in public education.

  • Jeff Flowers

    The problem is that Laurie Higgins thinks she has the right to select a teacher based religious preference. Wrong. You don’t get to do that, no more than you get to choose a teacher based on the teacher’s sexual orientation or race.

    Ms Higgins is the worst kind of person.

  • cello

    If I write a whole bunch of letters telling other parents at my kid’s school that they should pull their kids out of Mr. Smith’s class because he attends a biblically based church and works to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in his spare time – Christians would be screaming PROSECUTION at the top of their lungs.

  • REX

    @beckster:

    You forgot the most insidious of all personal failings: that Mrs. H. believes in an imaginary sky daddy who demands that we all love and worship him and that we must perfectly follow a 1500 year old text written by MEN, that supposedly lays out the the sky daddy’s only moral road in the universe, or else he will torture us FOREVER!

    THAT is the kind of dogma driven delusional fanatic that I absolutely do not around my kids!

  • Richard P

    Dear Laurie Higgins,
    Why don’t you follow your biblical scriptures and shut up. Doesn’t your scripture tell you to be quiet. Your stupid attacks on people is probably the exact reason your god has dictated that woman should not be speaking.
    I am sure grateful for this attack on Hemant. This is exactly the type of stuff that drove me away from the church to begin with and you have just confirmed my reasons as valid.

    Instead of showing the love of christ, you make evil attacks on people, simply because they have a difference of opinion.

    Another perfect example of why religion is the most deconstructive force in mans arsenal.

    You are pathetic and make me proud to be an atheist….

  • Kevin

    Laurie,

    It’s probably the same reason that three years ago a well-known homosexual blogger informed my former superintendent that I had been interviewed on Moody Radio on the topic of homosexuality.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right (we’re working on this with our 3-year-old).

    I said that other parents may believe that teachers are potential influences but agree with your public promotion of polyamory, homosexuality, “sex-positivity,” and the non-existence of God, in which case they may love for you to become a role model in their children’s lives.
    But other parents, perhaps some Jewish, Muslim, or Christian parents, may have concerns about the adults with whom their children spend time, develop relationships, and who may potentially influence their children and may also have significant disagreement with the ideas you promote on your public blog.

    A simple question. If Hemant were a charismatic, iconclastic math teacher who ran a blog in which he openly promoted Jewish beliefs, including the non-Messianic status of Jesus, would you warn Christian parents (and contact his employers) about his views? Why or why not?

    Your stance in this arena lacks perspective in another way. Hemant is a poster-child for how teachers out to keep their religious beliefs out of the classroom. Google “John Freshwater” for an alternate approach, where teachers inject their religious beliefs into their class material whenever possible. How hypocritcal of Christians to support cases like Mr. Freshwater, while attacking Hemant.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    I’ve got to call B.S. here. If Laurie Higgins is truly only trying to distribute information to potentially-concerned parents about Hemant’s activism, what does she expect those parents to do with this information? Given that she specifically refers to parents pulling kids out of his class, her real objective is patently obvious.

    If I had a kid, I’d want Hemant Mehta to be her teacher. I’d steer my kid as far away as I could from any school that employed Laurie Higgins, up to and including moving to a different school district. Why? Ms. Higgins has demonstrated that she is both a bigot and a sophist; Mr. Mehta has demonstrated professionalism and integrity.

  • skelman

    As long as he does his job, and keeps his personal life separate (which he has), there should be no problem for any non-xenophobic parent. This attempt at blacklisting him, or drawing negative attention to him like this for simply being an atheist is immoral.

    Everyone has opinions, and many teachers have different opinions than the parents whose kids they teach. Either the parents should try to research into the personal life of every possible teacher their student will have and discriminate so not to expose their children to “different personal beliefs” (as she is suggesting), even though they won’t be discussed in the classroom, or they should accept the reality of diversity of opinions and move on with their life. There’s always private school if you want a more narrow view of the world for your child.

  • ccubeman

    Ms. Higgins,

    I’m struggling to understand your obsession with sexual orientation.

    Sometimes an individuals gender does not match their sexual preference. This is the reality in which we live.

    Perhaps in your narrow religious view homosexuals are evil. For those of us in a tolerant, rational world, consenting adults can love as they please.

    If you loath Hemant because he’s an atheist, be honest and say so. Leave the superfluous gay-bashing out of the discourse – it makes you look like an intolerant bigot.

  • RebeccaF

    “But other parents, perhaps some Jewish, Muslim, or Christian parents, may have concerns about the adults with whom their children spend time, develop relationships, and who may potentially influence their children and may also have significant disagreement with the ideas you promote on your public blog. Those parents are entitled to sufficient information to make informed choices about the very public activities of their children’s teachers”

    So, do you also e-mail the administration about openly Christian teachers? So that the Atheist parents may have sufficient information to make informed choices about whether they want their children taught by religious teachers?

    Do you?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    Another thought occurs to me — Hemant may already have a good legal claim for for defamation, because Higgins’ campaign against him strongly suggests that he is an unfit teacher when the facts demonstrate otherwise.

    If anything does happen to Hemant’s job, he’ll also have a very strong case against IFI and Higgins for interference with contractual relations and prospective economic advantage. If something does happen, Hemant, contact me and I’ll take your case on a contingent-fee basis. I don’t make that offer to just anyone.

  • Pete in the Netherlands

    @ccubeman

    It doesn’t make her ” look like an intolerant bigot” as she clearly IS an intolerant bigot as her post proves…

    As well as being a bigot, she’s illogical, delusional, hateful, sneaky, squarky, smarmy and downright evil….. so she seems a typical fundamentalist Republican !!!

  • ccubeman

    @Pete,

    she’s illogical, delusional, hateful, sneaky, squarky, smarmy and downright evil

    I second that.

  • Stephen P

    Laurie Higgins:

    If you cannot produce one piece of evidence from my writing to support your claim that I am “going after” your job, then please retract that statement.

    You may be surprised to know that the readers of this weblog were not born yesterday. If you had seriously wanted to do no more than get Hemant Mehta to modify his positions taken here, you would first have e-mailed him, and then, if you were dissatisfied with the response and honestly thought it was in some way relevant to his job, would have e-mailed his supervisor with a copy to him.

    The fact that you instead decided to e-mail the entire administrative staff and school board is a transparent attempt to have him removed. To claim that it was not, merely because you did not ask for it in so many words, is a very model of disingenuousness. It certainly does nothing to enhance your already very low reputation among readers of this weblog.

  • http://www.subhumansuperwoman.blogspot.com Tucker Wright

    The coolest thing I just learned from Ms. Higgins is that Hemant is a math teacher at the high school my son will be attending in 9 years, so I’m one of those cool parents that will be excited to hear that he’s my son’s teacher. Not because I’m an atheist, and Hemant shares my views, but because I love that he’s had parents tell him how much their child loves math because of him. Whether or not Ms. Higgins or other intolerant idiots share his beliefs, you can’t dispute that if he’s doing his job well, there’s absolutely no basis by which to fire him, have him reported, or take your child out of his class. So, Hemant, if you’re still around in 9 years, you have at least one parent excited to have her child in your class.

  • Randy

    I agree Tucker! I’m looking at moving to Chicago and would love Hemant to teach my kids. So Hemant, my kids are 4 at the moment what are the chances of…..

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I did not, as one of your blog commenters suggested, call for you to be fired. I notified them that you made the public, vindictive, irresponsible, and unprofessional suggestion that the Kiss-In would be even better if it took place in front of my home.

    It’s called a JOKE, Higgie. Pull your head out of your posterior and get over your victim complex.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    You fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.

    Yes, Higgie, let’s warn those parents about the terribly dangerous and potentially harmful different ideas that people have. Different ideas are inherently bad and should be quashed as subversive. Parents should be terrified that such things are allowed in schools.

    If students have you as their teacher, like you, and develop a relationship with you—as happens often in high school—they will be more likely to look favorably on and be influenced by your ideas than those students who have no connection with you. This is the reason that many parents care deeply about role models.

    And through all this bluster all I can see is your continued assertion that since Hemant is an atheist, he must be actively promoting atheism in his classroom. Care to give us some proof, Higgie? Something we can sink our teeth into? Something more than just scare tactics?

    During my last three years at Deerfield High School, there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality who wrote publicly and contacted my administration about my unfitness as a role model for students—and I worked in the writing center where I had no classes.

    So you feel that, since you were wronged, you are equally justified to turn the tables. Right? You’re all about revenge here?

    Mr. Mehta, this is at least the second time that you have made inaccurate statements about me without evidence

    Like claiming that he shares his ideas about religion with his students, in school?

    If you cannot produce one piece of evidence from my writing to support your claim that I am “going after” your job, then please retract that statement.

    You contacted his administration with the intention of creating a chilling effect on his free speech in his personal life. You were cowardly enough to not send the e-mail to him; he had to learn about it from his superiors. You went after his job. You’re attempting to put pressure on the people who sign his paycheck by throwing veiled threats around about how you’ll tell everyone that Hemant is a danger to children’s minds.

    Higgie, you’re a pretty damned pathetic person.

  • http://anti-mattr.blogspot.com/ mathyoo

    Would Ms. Higgins protest so vehemently if if Hemant were Jewish and had a blog promoting Judaism, yet had the same professional stance and record of only teaching math to his students and never bringing up his beliefs in class? What he were Muslim? What about a Christian denomination other than hers? I suspect that she would have problems unless Hemant were her same denomination and agreed with everything that she believed, regardless of how he conducts himself in his job.

    On the other hand, I would have no problem with my daughter having a math teacher who was a devout Christian, Muslim, Jew, Jain, or even Scientologist, provided that they stuck to their job in the classroom, didn’t bring their beliefs into the classroom, and were competent at teaching their subject.

    I suspect that because Christians like Ms. Higgins are not able to keep their religious beliefs to themselves, they cannot conceive that anyone who might have a different belief/philosophy/life stance would be capable of acting professionally at their job and keeping their religion or lack therof out of it.

  • Randy

    Do you really contend that he was planning a “kiss-in” at your house? I guess sarcasm escapes you. Thats not like the bible thumping anti-abortion crowd here in Nebraska however that feel they have a right to drive a semi with alledged aborted fetus through the neighborhoods of clinic employees (which they do). You probably support that manner of “free speech” don’t you Laurie?

  • http://www.rationalitynow.com Dan Gilbert

    LOL! Your ideas are “subversive!”

    She seems to object to your being popular with your students… and being an atheist. I suspect that if you were a boring, milquetoast teacher that the kids forgot immediately after walking out your door, she wouldn’t have a problem with your being an atheist.

    It must seem terrible to her that there exists someone who is friendly, charismatic, gifted at his job, and popular who is also an atheist.

    Kudos to you. :-)

  • medussa

    Dear Laurie Higgins,

    I think I understand your need to feel that a teachers personal views must be something parents don’t desperately object to.
    I admire your perseverance in going after extremists, and I look forward to hearing how you have handled complaints about public school teachers walking into classrooms blatantly parading their personal views by wearing crosses and wedding rings, thereby subjecting their vulnerable charges to constant reminders that their teachers are christian and have access to a privilege reserved only for followers of the heterosexual persuasion, and withheld from all others by theists. Obviously, such behavior is morally deeply objectionable, and as a principled and moral person, I’m sure you would not stand for that, never mind support it.

    Please let me know how those campaigns are going, at which point I might be much more able to respect this current campaign against an atheist who brings no such personal views into the classroom, by your own admission.

    Oh, and could you please send proof that your letter writing and blog campaign isn’t publishing Mr Mehta’s photograph in order to bring supporters on board whose motivation might be racist? I’m sure you have no such intention, but I am equally certain you can prove that, right? NO? Come on, give it a try.

    Also, I posted on the IFI site a few days ago, requesting information on how you propose to pay for the additinal salaries of all the new teachers we will have to hire, in order to ensure that the children of hindu parents, muslim parents, atheist parents, etc, all have access to math teachers (not to mention all the other subjects) that are not morally objectionable to them. Clearly, christian teachers only appeal to one segment of American parents of public school teachers. I never received a reply, I’m sure that was an oversight. Maybe you could clarify that for me here?

    I’d appreciate it.

    Thanks again for your integrity and honesty.

  • Aj

    Laurie Higgins,

    Reasonable people might infer that while not directly calling for Hemant to get fired the consequence of both telling parents about Hemant’s views, and your advocation of parents asking for teachers with Hemant’s views to not be allowed to teach their children, might threaten his fucking job. Lets hope that there aren’t ignorant dumbshit superstitious parents who actually follow your ignorant dumbshit superstitious advice.

    It’s probably the same reason that three years ago a well-known homosexual blogger informed my former superintendent that I had been interviewed on Moody Radio on the topic of homosexuality. During my last three years at Deerfield High School, there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality who wrote publicly and contacted my administration about my unfitness as a role model for students—and I worked in the writing center where I had no classes.

    a) I don’t think normalization means what you think it means.

    b) Ah, the old two wrongs make a right argument, well it’s from the Bible so I guess you’re true to your word.

    I said that other parents may believe that teachers are potential influences but agree with your public promotion of polyamory, homosexuality, “sex-positivity,” and the non-existence of God, in which case they may love for you to become a role model in their children’s lives.

    For someone who complains about accusations without evidence that’s two false accusations.

    a) I have never read the promotion of polyamory in the posts on this site, not even by the guest poster who is a polyamorist. Hemant did not promote it. I think you’re confusing “promotion” with “tolerance” but ignorant bigots tend to do that.

    b) There are plenty of posts by Hemant explaining his position on God, apparantly you have read none of them, but that’s unsurprising given your promotion of ignorance. Hemant does not promote any claim of the “non-existence of God”.

  • medussa

    PS to Ms Higgins.

    I do hope you understand the difference between sincerity and sarcasm. Otherwise you might not understand my earlier post.

    If you are confused, please ask.

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

    (This is a response to Laurie Higgins posting here)

    I have never in any context suggested that you should be fired or that you should resign. In fact, I don’t believe the school has any legal right to fire you. You should have fact-checked before you posted that factually inaccurate statement.

    If you don’t believe the school has any legal right to do anything about Hemant, then why did you have the brass balls to contact his employer? Could it be you were hoping that by being ‘stealth’ about your attempt, he’d not find out? Hate to burst your bubble, but people can smell bullshit a mile away, and usually don’t like underhanded tactics. Just because you won’t do the right thing, doesn’t mean other people will follow suit.

    In addition, I have repeatedly stated that you have a First Amendment right to make whatever public statements you want on any topic. I have also made it abundantly clear that my goal is to provide information to District 204 parents–particularly IFI readers—about the nature of the ideas you express and endorse on your public blog so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they want their children to spend a school year under your tutelage.

    It begs the question WHY you contacted the school board and not the parents? Are you worried that the parents may not agree with you?

    In my first, brief email to your administrators and school board, I did not, as one of your blog commenters suggested, call for you to be fired. I notified them that you made the public, vindictive, irresponsible, and unprofessional suggestion that the Kiss-In would be even better if it took place in front of my home.

    Somehow, I happen to think that if given the chance, you’d gladly cause a ruckus in front of Hemant’s home in the name of your plight. Please don’t tell me you wouldn’t – you religious fundamentalists never pass up an oppertunity to spite your opposition.

    IYou fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.

    I _wish_ I had a teacher like Hemant in high school. I probably wouldn’t have been bored out of my mind, and actually enjoyed school. If he was a Christian, would you have the same issue with him being charismatic? Probably not. Even if on the random chance, reading his blog causes a teen to question his faith, is that really a bad thing? If that teen reaffirms his faith after investigating alternatives, isn’t that more powerful then someone who just blindly accepts faith without proper reason? I applaud religious people who take the time to invesitgate other religions and atheism – it shows the mind of a person who isn’t going to get pushed around by others.

    On the other hand, that type of person is more likely to follow a non-Christian based religion, so thats dangerous in your mind. Can’t have people thinking on their own!

    IIf students search your name and come upon your blog, they will be exposed to your endorsement and promotion of many ideas that parents may find deeply troubling. If students have you as their teacher, like you, and develop a relationship with you—as happens often in high school—they will be more likely to look favorably on and be influenced by your ideas than those students who have no connection with you. This is the reason that many parents care deeply about role models.

    Couldn’t the same thing be said about religious individuals influencing teens? What if I, an Atheist, have a child in school where their teacher is peddling creationism as a science? Don’t I have a right to be offended then? Oh, forgot, because I’m a heathenistic Atheist, I have no right to be offended at the disgusting behavior fundies show.

    It’s the reason there were some recent stories about parents being upset that a high school cheerleading coach posed in her private life for Playboy magazine, or why some parents would not want their children in the class of a teacher who in their free time on a public forum promotes racist views or denies the historicity of the Holocaust.

    Funny, aren’t you doing the equivelant of being racist at this very moment?

    It’s probably the same reason that three years ago a well-known homosexual blogger informed my former superintendent that I had been interviewed on Moody Radio on the topic of homosexuality. During my last three years at Deerfield High School, there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality who wrote publicly and contacted my administration about my unfitness as a role model for students—and I worked in the writing center where I had no classes.

    So you know exactly how it feels. So, one must ask themselves, why are you doing the same thing to Hemant? Are you that self-righteous and blind that you think this is any different?

    In my second article about you, I concluded by saying that some parents may not view teachers as potentially influential role models for their children, and therefore those parents will be fine with you as their children’s teacher.

    I said that other parents may believe that teachers are potential influences but agree with your public promotion of polyamory, homosexuality, “sex-positivity,” and the non-existence of God, in which case they may love for you to become a role model in their children’s lives.

    Only the religious fundies would find being open minded a bad thing. This coming from the same group of people who say homosexuality is a more important problem in this country then homelessness, kids not getting medical care, starvation, and murder. Now who’s got their priorities mixed up?

    But other parents, perhaps some Jewish, Muslim, or Christian parents, may have concerns about the adults with whom their children spend time, develop relationships, and who may potentially influence their children and may also have significant disagreement with the ideas you promote on your public blog. Those parents are entitled to sufficient information to make informed choices about the very public activities of their children’s teachers—something that for some odd reason seems to offend you.

    Do not think for a moment that you speak for Jewish or Muslim familiies. Unlike Christians, I know for a fact Jews do not have the drive to convert every person they set their eyes on. Unlike most Christians, both Jewish and Muslim families tend to have traditions they follow more closely without being as picky and choosey like you’all do. They tend to take their faith more seriously, and not just use it as an excuse to attack/hate/murder.

    Mr. Mehta, this is at least the second time that you have made inaccurate statements about me without evidence (the first was in your blog entry following your attendance at my presentation at Wheaton Bible Church). If you cannot produce one piece of evidence from my writing to support your claim that I am “going after” your job, then please retract that statement.

    You need to apologize to Hemant, and retract the statements you made to the school board. Regardless, you won’t change the minds of alot of people who now see you as the raving lunatic you are.

    I am not the Friendly Atheist. I’m the atheist who’s tired of the bullshit you fundies spew. I’m the atheist who will be bluntly honest about her feelings, regardless of who it offends. I’m the atheist who has no problems taking to task those who unfairly target others. I am also the atheist who supports their friends whenever and whereever they may need me. I’m the atheist who donates her time to charity every time she gets. I’m the atheist who would give her last $5 to a person on the street if I knew it would help them survive another day.

    That being said, I’d not want for Hemant to do anything different. He’s a better person then both of us, and for that fact alone, I have the utmost respect and admiration.

  • Carlie

    Laurie,
    Every teacher in the world holds some personal viewpoints that some students and families they will have in class at some point would find objectionable if they were to learn of them. Why are you picking on Hemant, especially when it’s been made very clear to you that he never brings any of his own viewpoints into the teaching of maths and that there have never been any complaints of the sort made against him?

    Why, it’s almost as if you object simply to the idea that he exists at all and are on a personal vendetta to attack atheists.

  • http://newref.blogspot.com James

    they fail to understand that teens are often predisposed to affirm the ideas of adults whom they find cool or personable or funny or iconoclastic.

    I really have to agree with Higgins on this one! It took a couple years of therapy and antidepressants to overcome the indoctrination in evangelical Christianity I received all through high school. Thankfully, I can now say I’m fully recovered.

  • medussa

    Oh, hey, Hemant, if you do end up needing to hire a lawyer, just put up a paypal button on this blog, I have no doubt many of us (including me) would be happy to contribute to taking on Higgins and IFI. It would be my pleasure.

  • Petursey

    Superb post Brielle – I wouldn’t hold our breath that she will respond. The truth hurts and they can’t listen to it as they are so conditioned to be being brainwashed !!

  • http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com Allytude

    Oh gosh Hemant what will become about your baby recipes………

  • Pingback: Christian Activist Goes After Atheist Math Teacher | Bruce Droppings

  • Gabriel

    How dare you be the kind of teacher that students will like. Don’t you realize that being a competent teacher who isn’t hated by his students is subersive?

  • Siamang

    I have to say that I’m flat-out amazed. Though I guess I shouldn’t be.

    The IFI and their ilk HATE that we are atheists. No matter how friendly you are. No matter how decent and kind and keep your nose clean you are, they WILL go after you.

    Merely for holding a different view than they do, and talking about that.

    Sorry, Keith (the pastor), It seems your discussions with her have done no good at all.

    I’ll say it, and if you knew the depth of my feelings, you’ll know that this is the gravest insult I can muster: Laurie Higgins is a mean person.

    I cannot fathom why she would do something so un-Christ-like, (using Keith and others’ description of who Jesus was and is to them). Hemant is the real deal. Hemant is honest and trustworthy and so bloody NICE. If he disagrees with you, he’ll tell you, but he does so in a way that says he values you as a person, and he respects you even if he disagrees with you.

    Hemant follows the rules of civilized debate. Laurie Higgins ABSOLUTELY flaunts them. She hits below the belt. She went around Hemant and went right to his bosses, NOT to the parents and not to Hemant.

    I want to know what the next step is. I don’t want to inflame the situation further. But I do sense that things will get worse before they get better.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/ Greg Laden

    Holy crap, man. This is outrageous. You have a lot of support out there behind you , please do not hesitate to use it.

  • http://bluegrassfool.blogspot.com/ Scott

    I think this all boils down to Laurie Higgins being bitter: Hemant is educated and is successful as a teacher, obviously well-liked.

    Laurie, on the other hand, is bitter, rotting along with a rotting group like IFI, has no future and will never make a name for herself outside of slandering gay people and obsessing over sex lives of people she’s never met and never will meet. What a miserable, empty, lonely and fucked-up life.

    Is there any wonder Laurie Higgins is after you? The cheap woman with an even cheaper life has already been making a living off the backs of the gay community, and she’s going to fail if she thinks you’re going to be her next fundraising tool.

  • Alexis

    “You fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.”

    I see another potential role model that must Laurie must work to neutralize. There is a charismatic man in the White House who not only chose to be born a black, but allowed his white mother to consort with his black father before he was born. Oh my! This terrible example in a high place might give our children the idea that racial tolerance is not only okay, but actually a good thing!

  • Jen

    I, for one, am absolutely thrilled that we have solved the crisis regarding the shortage of math and science teachers in Illinois, to the point where we can now suggest we fire one because of the advice given by his friend 2000 miles away. Happy days, everyone!

  • http://betapwned.com Tanya

    If nothing else has come from this rather unsavory affair, my determination to become the best damn High School Biology teacher in the county has been strengthened ten-fold.

    Thank you, Ms. Higgins for lacking the strength of character to confront Hemant directly. Thank you for failing to consider that all teachers have a private life that someone, somewhere, likely objects to. Thank you for failing to realize that parents share their children’s ability to research teachers on the internet. Thank you for assuming it your duty to act as a mediator in matters that do not concern you directly. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see that there are school officials who understand that a teacher’s life beyond the classroom is irrelevant to their effectiveness in the classroom. Thank you for continuing to express your horror at the notion of an openly Atheist teacher, regardless of his obvious passion for and ability in his field. Thank you for reminding us all how important our freedom of speech is, and that the world is not yet as tolerant as the rational among us wish it was.

  • Todd

    Laurie says:

    You fail to acknowledge a central point that I addressed in my articles, which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.

    If this is your primary concern, Ms. Higgins, might I suggest your parenting skills suck.

  • J B Tait

    I have noted that a good many of our teachers attend Church every week, and have blogs that support their religious views and disseminate their arrogant and intolerant attitudes.
    I expect good role models for my offspring. I want people who are moral because it is the right thing to do and not because they think some bearded tyrant will punish them later.
    I don’t want my kids to get the idea that it is ok to be mean, angry, or exclusionary because someone had the hubris to dare claim they know what God wants.
    Would I be allowed to take my child out of their classes and have only professed atheist teachers, please?

  • abb3w

    So, in short, Higgins is advocating firing someone because she has examined his beliefs, and found them wanting under the test of her religion?

    The local ACLU office would likely appreciate a note; it might help them with long-term planning.

  • Brownian

    *Sputter*

    This is another flagrant example of the kind of persecution tolerant Christians are always having to put up with! They’re no longer allowed to force everyone to pray with them in school! They’re no longer allowed to remind foreigners that our courts of law are based on sacred rules about not working on Sundays. Why, they’re no longer allowed to burn people they suspect might possibly be witches! And now they’re being fired merely for the beliefs they have outside the classroom. Just how much longer are they supposed to tolerate this intolerance?!

    What’s that you say? A Christian is trying to get an atheist fired for being an atheist? Never mind, then.

  • http://www.mishagos.com Ian Kleinfeld

    GOOD LORD! YOU’RE TEACHING KIDS MATH???? PERVERT.

    You should be fired, and I wholeheartedly support the effort. I can’t believe in this day and age that we still have people who believe children should have cardinal knowledge. I mean, really. Math! You disgust me.

    Math is radical, and as far as most school children are concerned, two-dimensional (especially until high school).

    No proofs are needed.

    So what if America is divided over this? Only a fraction of the population can sum up the plane truth of this simple equation: mathematics has been a constant source of incalculable destructive interference with our youth, the roots of our future. Period. Axiomatically, all your so-called “teaching” still winds up leading zero to believe that it will lead them to a happy prime of life later on.

    So I applaud those trying to subtract you from the staff of the school. I only wonder if those Torus-driving yahoos are equal to the task of righting this angle.

    My finite point? You should travel a straight line to Alaska instead and teach Palin’s Down’s Syndrome child.

    I don’t believe in any of this!

  • Ron in Houston

    Hemant’s situation presents some really interesting legal issues. He’s technically a governmental official working for a governmental agency. Since he works for a governmental agency, people have a right to petition that agency and bring their concerns before that agency.

    So far, I haven’t seen anything false that they’ve said. So, while their behavior may be vile and contemptible, it could very well be legal.

  • Lorenzo

    This is one reason I’d never want to become a teacher. Having not only to deal with relevent classroom problems but the teachers and their silly “I know what’s best because I do!” attitude depresses me. Hemant, keep up the good fight!

  • http://3harpiesltd.org/ocb Judith Bandsma

    This crap is such a shame. I remember 2 teachers especially who made me love the subjects they taught…math and history. I had crushes on both of them (in separate years). I’d have done just about anything for them.

    I remember that the math teacher always smelled like cigarettes and cinnamon toast and the history teacher always wore really stupid ties. What I CAN’T remember is what, if any, religion they subscribed to. And, if the internet had been around at that time, I seriously doubt I’d have looked up either of them because I wouldn’t have wanted to know anything that would spoil my idealistic perception of them. And I can’t think that kids have changed -that- much.

  • http://andrea-thenerd.xanga.com The Nerd

    It’s all about diversity and choice.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh please, please tell me she gets the irony of that statement.

  • http://www.stopjenny.com Eosine

    I’ve had the priviledge of meeting you in person Hemant. You don’t put up with much guff, and are action-oriented. Your no-nonsense approach and openness that lead to your book is what I admire the most. I’d be proud if my child were in your class! Your intellect shines through this blog as well, and it is too bad some people you have to share this planet with are too pigheaded to look past their small minded stereotypes of what they think you must be like to see who you really are. As I can see here, you put your students first and wouldn’t bother to try to fill class time with distractions that would take away from students’ learning experiences. You are also a shining example that I would hope my child WOULD be influenced by you since your influence is to just motivate people to do their best and to work for something instead of giving up and/or whining. We need more teachers like you, and I hope the school board and parents can ignore small-minded whining from someone who clearly does not even know you.

  • Ben

    It is nice that crazy people say crazy things, it makes them easier to tell them apart from the not-so-crazy people.

    Anyone who has ever spent any time in the real world knows that life isn’t fair, but in this situation I’m betting that if you do your job the way you have been, and judging from the comments you do it well, things will fall in your favor…eventually. Till then you have the support of a lot of people through this headache inducing time.

    Best of luck,

    An Illinois Athiest

  • Frink

    Ms. Higgins sounds like quite the psycho.

  • Heidi

    @Ian:

    You are being dishonest — Ms. Higgins does NOT call for you to be fired. She suggests that parents OPT their children from your class and influence. In my opinion, this is a reasonable suggestion.

    Ah, it is all clear to me now. My son is a senior in high school this year. Now I know that I should inquire into the personal lives of all his teachers and remove him from any classes taught by Christians. Got it.

    @Laurie:

    It’s probably the same reason that three years ago a well-known homosexual blogger informed my former superintendent that I had been interviewed on Moody Radio on the topic of homosexuality. During my last three years at Deerfield High School, there were more than a few supporters of the normalization of homosexuality who wrote publicly and contacted my administration about my unfitness as a role model for students—and I worked in the writing center where I had no classes.

    What this says to me is:
    1.) It’s ok if you express your own controversial views in public while in the employ of a high school, but it is not ok for someone whose views are different than yours.

    2.) This is about revenge. So-and-so told on me, so I’m going to tell on someone else. Very professional. The difference here being, of course, that you were promoting bigotry and intolerance, and Hemant is promoting rational thought.

    A teacher is there to teach. Period. He or she needs to get the material across so the kids understand it. Unless the teacher is up there on a soapbox force-feeding his or her personal beliefs on them, then said beliefs are irrelevant. I don’t care if my kids are being taught by Scientologists, Evangelicals, Moonies, Flat-Earthers or any other nutcases as long as they do their jobs and keep it out of the classroom.

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  • http://bluegrassfool.blogspot.com/ Scott

    “which is many teens are unduly influenced by emotion or the cult of personality and are therefore predisposed to look favorably on the ideas of teachers whom they find cool or charismatic or funny or kind or iconoclastic.”

    Which is why “christians” do the exact same thing: having clowns such as Ted Haggard and “ex-gays” parading around onstage, trying to be funny with their stupid jokes (“I’m not gay anymore, but there’s no law that says I can’t be CAMPY!!!!”), throwing candy at the children, having kids jump and shriek to their silly songs (mainly about men being in love and infatuated with this “Jesus” guy).

    Of course most of that bullshit is just their own way of trying to get the kids into bed with them.

  • Gerardo Camilo

    As a catholic, and a scientist, you have my support. You have more integrity and character than the witch burners (insert Monty Python sketch).

  • Gerardo Camilo

    BTW, I live in Illinois (near Belleville)

  • Rachel

    lol…they removed the contact link from their website. Guess they didn’t want to hear from us anymore.

    Unfortunately they forgot to disable their contact form at http://www.illinoisfamily.org/contact/ so if you feel the need to ask them a question directly please feel free.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-10853-Portland-Humanist-Examiner~y2009m8d21-Illinois-Family-Institute-Portrait-of-Christian-hate Micha J. Stone, Portland Humanist Examiner

    Greetings,

    First, thanks for the link to my story about the Florida school administrators facing jail time for ignoring a court order and leading a prayer at a school function.

    I have just finished an expose’ on the Illinois Family Institute: Portrait of Christian hate. There I outline the bigotry and hatred of Laurie Higgins and her organisation.

    Follow the link and take a look.

    Keep up the good work, I love reading your stuff.

    peace

  • Randy

    PZ picked it up and is chiming in!

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com MikeTheInfidel

    Since he works for a governmental agency, people have a right to petition that agency and bring their concerns before that agency.

    Only about things done as a representative of that agency – not in their personal lives. (As a government employee, I’m keenly familiar with what we can and can’t do and when.)

    What Hemant does in his personal life is not relevant to his employment status. If he were fired for being homosexual, he could sue for wrongful termination. Same goes for being an atheist.

  • Blaine

    Just another voice of support here…keep up your good work. Maybe in another hundred or so years we atheists might finally, maybe, be treated fairly.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Or maybe she’s upset that even Christians are supporting me on this matter.

    Although whether or not I perfectly fit the label of Christian is another story, you can definitely count me in with the freethinking non-atheists who support you in this matter. I did not feel love in her letter, but judgment.

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  • Hal in Howell MI

    Hemant, all I can say is hang in there. I hope that this ultimately amounts to nothing (other than further exposing the bigotry and intolerance and delusion that religion cultivates so well) and that you are not losing sleep over this bozo’s vendetta. You’ve got a lot of friends out here.

  • http://car54.wordpress.com/ Stacy

    That’s good information Rachel. Are we allowed to ReTweet on blogs?:-) Here it is again …

    ” lol…they removed the contact link from their website. Guess they didn’t want to hear from us anymore.

    Unfortunately they forgot to disable their contact form at http://www.illinoisfamily.org/contact/ so if you feel the need to ask them a question directly please feel free.”

  • MT

    Keep on truckin’, Hemant. Teach those kids all about the subversive maths of the heathens. Don’t let a few god-soaked bigots who don’t understand religious freedom ruin your day.

  • Sidd

    Hey Hemant:

    Hang in there buddy.

    - Sidd

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    Hey, when you guys do contact the IFI, I suggest you work a Bible quote in there to demonstrate how they are being bad Christians. I used Matthew 7:16: “By their works ye shall know them.”

  • Zar

    There’s only one thing to do about this:

    Gay kiss-in in front of the Higgins residence! For real, you guys.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    It’s all about diversity and choice.

    Yeah, there’s so much diversity in a world where everyone is heterosexual and Christian. And they want heterosexuality and Christianity to be your only choices too.

  • WayBeyondSoccerMom

    Good luck, Hemant. I can’t imagine what you are going through. I’m just glad it sounds like your school administration is standing behind you. Hang in there.

  • http://mattcbr.wordpress.com Matt

    I hope they realise that being taught maths by an atheist is far more preferable to a literalistic Christian … since then they’d be forced to teach that Pi equalled exactly 3.

  • http://www.thealders.net/blogs Doug Alder

    Well said Hemant. What a kook she and her ilk are, don’t let them get you down (and apparently you’re not LOL)

  • BlueIndependent

    I’m an Illinois native and just found out about this at Pharyngula. Looks like the hounds of idiocy are striking again, and now (or rather, again) in my home state. I support you as a fellow atheist, although I am nowhere near you so I cannot lend any local force to my support. I will make sure others know about this and send them here.

  • Evil Merodach

    Yes, you should NOT be allowed to teach my children because the religion I instill in my children is too fragile to survive the harsh light of truth that you may accidentally shine in their direction.

    Why can’t children be exposed to different faiths, or lack of faith; or learn to be tolerant of others not like themselves? …Unlike their parents.

    I guess when evangelicals said “Teach the controversy,” they didn’t mean when it conflicted with their beliefs.

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  • TJ

    I read her comments condoning the bullying of gay students.

    If she had been saying things like that about blacks she would not be tolerated for one second and would probably be thrown in jail. But gays are still OK to say things like this about, at least if you have the religion/children card ready to play. (Oh, and lets not forget that atheists are also still ok to openly hate.)

    It won’t be ok to hate for much longer tho. I can’t wait to hear all the whining and screaming coming from these dingbats when that happens. It’ll be music to my ears. :)

    As well all know, if a bunch of fundamentalist religious bigots are screaming, then somebody is doing something right.

  • Norton

    We support you Mr Mehta!

    We need more atheist teachers in our schools to speak out.

  • stogoe

    This has as much to do with the fear that teachers are adults with outside interests as it does with religion. Don’t you know that teachers aren’t allowed to do anything but eat, sleep, and teach? Why, imagine the scandal if your child’s teacher was at a bar and purchased an alcoholic beverage!

  • Heraclides

    I agree with stephen, you’re best to just ignore her. Every sizeable town (unfortunately) has at least one person of her general ilk that spends their life ranting at things.

    You just want to be respectable about it all and let her make herself look the fool.

    “it’s my private life” isn’t the best defence. Personally, I wouldn’t offer a “defence” at all. In fact, I basically wouldn’t offer any much in “reply” either, just a polite “empty” statement to the effect that “your accusations are inappropriate”, then move on. After all, if parents really want a “controlled” environment, they can simply choose to send their kids to a religious school. Given the school they have sent them to, the complaint does seem inappropriate.

    You’re never really going to reason with her. After all, she closes her spiel with “It’s all about diversity and choice.”, seemingly without a jot of recognition of the irony of what she wrote and how it fails her own argument.

  • Liz

    So what’s a good Christian woman doing trying to talk down to a man? Get back in the kitchen and make her man a sandwich. Then she better get to birthin some babies.

  • Sandra

    The bottom of the article on the IFI page reads:

    Evil men don’t understand the importance of justice,
    but those who follow the Lord are much concerned about it.
    ~Proverbs 28:5
    (NKJV)

    *eye roll*

  • VolcanoMan

    If everyone went after every teacher who publicly expressed views that they did not agree with, the system would collapse under the sheer bureaucracy of trying to accomodate every child of every parent with teachers their parents were comfortable with.

    My question is, why go after the atheist? Why not the Jews, the Muslims, members of the Green Party? Why are they allowed to live their lives according to their rights while children whose parents disagree with THOSE philosophies are attending their classes, presumably unaware or only slightly aware of the stuff that they do outside the classroom?

    In my opinion, this is like the crap the Iowa atheists got about their bus ads (Don’t believe in God; you’re not alone). Nowhere are they promoting their lack of belief, it’s just a simple statement that hey, atheists exist, and that’s okay! But some people fear that publicising that existance, allowing such people to have a public voice while keeping atheism out of their place of work will lead to an acceptance of lack of belief, which is, apparently, a repugnant idea to some people. And people who teach their children are especially influential.

    I say children should be aware of the outside world and hell, a parent can’t control everything a child is exposed to. But ultimately, these children grow up and being exposed to many viewpoints is inevitably a better grounding in life than being sequestered within one community of sectarian belief. A child of religious parents who researches his teacher on the web and finds this blog will be exposed to new ideas, and I don’t find this problematic at all. Kids get ideas from everywhere these days, it’s better to get them from people who are rational, reasonable, and who have clearly-thought out justification for those reasons. Is this dangerous to religion? No more so than your average rock band spouting out some faux-intelligent lyrics that don’t actually mean anything, or a teen idol talking about their “spirituality”. In the end, it is the very exposure to new ideas, ones that challenge you in ways that cannot be dismissed like a rock band, that creates critical thinkers in the first place, a clear but often failed goal of high schools. If you are against your child being able to decide for himself where he stands, absolutely rail against the Friendly Atheist all you want. But I think most people would immediately see the hypocrisy of trying to besmirch a teacher whose work doesn’t stop when he leaves the classroom, who tries to build a case for his non-belief and challenges others to evaluate it themselves. Clearly this is a GOOD teacher, not a bad one. Take your shot Ms. Higgins.

  • http://zestforwhy.wordpress.com/ KT

    Yeah. Nobody but a Christian could be a good role model. *snort* This intolerant attitude frustrates me. It’s the same attitude that will likely prevent an atheist (or a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist or an agnostic or probably even a nonpracticing Christian . . .) from ever becoming president.

  • Ty

    Man, in reading her appeal you can almost feel how tightly her butt-cheeks are clenched. You can probably shove a piece of coal up there and have a diamond in two weeks time.

  • True_Blue

    Keep up the good work and ignore the bigots (hard, I know). The “who will think of the children” is an act–because it’s not about the kids. The very existence of happy friendly atheists who lead decent lives without the fear of hellfire to keep us in line affonts her. And she totally overestimates the power teachers have to mold children. I’ve had a raging rightwing Jesus freak teacher, and yet somehow I escaped unscathed (and she taught Civics!).

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com advertisinglies

    I’m interested to see how this all works out. I’m sure there will be a bit more ruffling of feathers, followed by some post on her part about ‘being the bigger person and letting the issue go.’ even though she created the issue to begin with, followed by an increase in the sales of your book. We can only hope!

  • Nick

    “teens are often predisposed to affirm the ideas of adults whom they find cool or personable or funny or iconoclastic.”

    Once again, I come to the same old age-discrimination that plagues most mid-to-late teens. Are we really expected to be lacking in personal judgment that we would agree with the opinions of adults just because we like their personality? I think not. Good God, my trigonometry teacher is the coolest math teacher I’ve ever had, but if I were to find out that he’s a young earth creationist, I wouldn’t start thinking: “Alright, Earth is really only 6,000 years old!”. No, my teacher’s personal beliefs have no effect on my opinion of them at school. And they certainly wouldn’t change my mind about anything due to a mere likable personality trait.

  • gil mann

    Higgins is a liar. I just wasted my whole evening trying to find “offensive” and “immoral” content on this website, and there’s, like, nothing, not so much as a side-boob.

    Good luck dealing with this she-cretin. Also, please to make with the offensive and immoral. Thanks in advance.

  • Just Some Guy

    The fault begins here:

    “parents have the right not to have him as a teacher and a role model for their children.”

    Where, oh where, do people get the idea that they have just any right they feel like having today?

    The rights we have are outlined very thoroughly in a legal document called the Bill of Rights. If it’s not in there, you don’t have it.

    As far as I know, there’s nothing in there about a “right” to not have atheist math teachers. I could check, though.

    Nope. Still not there. Sorry theist fantasies, you lose. :

  • Heidi

    I read her comments condoning the bullying of gay students.

    So did I. Barbaric, aren’t they?

  • K

    I don’t understand it when people attack someone for being “sex positive.” I thought we’d moved past the Victorian idea that people, least of all women, should not enjoy sex.

    So does this old dinosaur have children of her own? Amazing that someone got through all those petticoats and the chastity belt.

    And if I had children of my own, I’d have a better time trusting them to an atheist than one of those creepy pedophile priests you see every time you turn around in the news.

  • Carolina

    I really have no words for such ignorance as this woman displays. But I do want to tell you: thanks for mentioning the title of your book. I just bought it on amazon.com.

    I am new to your blog and I find it very encouraging. Keep it up.

  • Serena

    Just one more voice of support here. Coming to you from a Biology teacher in MN.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    The Orwellian doublethink involved in that last line is terrifying.

  • Keith (the pastor)

    Laurie,

    You have the right to chose what you do. I have asked you repeatedly to point to one time Jesus remotely treated anyone like this … and you have failed to do so. That you continue reveals your motivation lies in something other than following Jesus.

    I told you that if you did anything other than personally and sincerely apologize to Hemant for contacting his bosses … that NO ONE would hear what else you have to say. You chose not to apologize … and no one will listen to your arguments … you will just be mocked. While I appreciate that you are now persuaded to focus on parents and not his employers … that you will neither admit nor apologize for you past actions toward his employers drowns out any nuanced improvements.

    I agreed with you that suffering is something a follower of Jesus should expect … but I also reminded you that even Peter points out in his first letter that some Christians suffer for following Jesus and some suffer for being meddlers. You continue to meddle and continue to suffer. If you quit meddling, your suffering will go down … because the people on this blog are speaking ill of you because you are behaving like a jerk … not because you are following Jesus.

    I told you all this would happen. You chose it. Enjoy it, and I will pray that you learn from this. I will also pray that you enjoy no satisfaction from the “persecution” you receive. Your goal is supposedly to protect children, but your actions persuade no one to discontinue the actions you claim harm children. The cause Jesus lived and died for is harmed by your actions. From this point forward, may those to whom you preach through IFI be as persuaded to change for the better as you yourself are. Trust me, the more willing you are to remove the telephone poles from your eyes, the more people will trust your offers of speck removal.

    Hemant and others,

    I am sorry that I have not been persuasive in my conversations with Laurie. Anything I can do to help you as this goes further … I’m willing.

  • mediajackal

    It’s too dangerous to ignore whack-hats like this woman. Better to disinfect her in a glare of publicity. I’ll be working on that, in my modest little way.

    Well, let’s put it this way: You ignore the bigots. It appears a LOT of decent people have your back.

  • CatBallou

    Heh heh.

    She said “feckless.”

  • http://sacrednothing.blogspot.com/ J.on

    On your own time and in your own forum you share moderate opinions with others that are different than hers – for shame!

    In my opinion (not necessarily Mr.Mehta’s), she’s lashing out because she’s afraid of what she doesn’t understand.

  • Donna

    Dear Mr. Mehta:

    As an atheist parent who is also the member of MFM polyamorous triad, I just want to thank you for being a positive member of the teaching profession who seeks for an inclusive environment for his students whether they be Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic or simply questioning. I hope that my children will find a teacher like you during their matriculation through the system. Thank you again

  • Jerry

    Hang in there bro’. The private life of a student’s teacher is none of their business if the instruction is up to snuff.

    Support your local teacher’s union, and the first amendment!

  • Wood

    Heck, Hemant, just keep teaching those kids math. If the poor little critters have to learn some critical reasoning skills along the way?* It’s all good.
    If you have a legal case? Pursue it. If not? Just go on doing what you do best.

    * That learning of criticism might be a very frightening thing to a dogmatist. That would explain a lot.

  • Squirrelly

    Here’s an idea, sir. Purchase a Wildcats gym shirt, have the red “A” embroidered on the back of it and send it to Laurie Higgins.

    Oh, and contact the Secular Student Alliance and start a chapter. The way things are going with Christianity right now, I’m sure you’d have no trouble finding at least a handful of students who would LOVE a secular group!

    Neuqua students reading this, go to http://www.secularstudents.org and tell the world what you are–a non-believer!

  • MadScientist

    Perhaps she learned to read and was reading Augustine and foolishly taking him seriously (and really, only a fool could take anything from Augustine seriously). From the Wikipedia:

    “… the good Christian should beware of mathematicians, …. the danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.”

  • R. Schauer

    Laurie Higgins said,
    If students search your name and come upon your blog, they will be exposed to your endorsement and promotion of many ideas that parents may find deeply troubling.

    And Mr. Mehta and I and all the other educators and scientists who strongly endorse independent learning behaviors in our students can take great solice that our efforts have not been in vain. That we have created, with the help of search engines, learners who can function in this society and can make decisions for themselves based on the evidence they find…and use that evidence to further their lives and the lives of others in a positive manner.

    Furthermore, these independent learners will have demonstrated the skills necessary to adapt to social, political and environmental changes quickly and effectively so they don’t become as you appear, an intolerant wind-bag of bullying behavior to coerce others into endorsements of your irrationality. There is no god, Ms. Higgins…and your beliefs and factless faith that there is demonstrates to the learned here your educational acumen…or lack thereof. Yes, it will solidify our opinion that you are ignorant of all of the knowledge in the sciences today.

    In summary, if you wish your child to become an ignorant and intolerant bully like you, then continue to encourage their learning based on hearsay and rote memorization of cherry-picked passages from a 2000 year old book of superstition and myth.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    You should feel very fortunate that students and their parents have not been complaining about what you write here. Unfortunately, we are not all so lucky.

  • http://mondodiablo.wordpress.com Hellbound Alleee

    Dear Parents Everywhere,

    Thank “Bob” that there are adults out there, other than parents, to influence children! Sorry parents, but you’re not that wonderful. We see you out in public, you’re just like us, and your kid needs input from some cool, interesting and different people. No matter how cool you think you are, your kid is an individual, completely separate from you, and doesn’t need your helicopter parenting to come swoop down and drag them out of all situations in which you feel uncomfortable. Your kid, an actual, whole person, is going to live his own life apart from you, I’m sure you assume.

    You want him to live with you into his 40′s or 50′s? Then by all means, control him as much as possible, control all his contacts and his outside influences.

    Otherwise, parents, stop being dicks.

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  • Becky in Atlanta

    Just wanted to lend a little support and wish you well.

    Big ol’ scary bible-belt atheist,
    Becky

  • BCReason

    Nasty as she is, she sort of almost has a point.

    A teacher at my sons school got him questioning god. He came home and got me questioning my faith. Now we’re both non-believers.

    I’m not sure what the teacher said or was it just his attitude. I know there was some dispute in class when Evolution was taught that led to a larger discussion. Strangely it was not the Christians that made the fuss. The school is multicultural and it was Hindu’s & Sikh’s that led the Evolution opposition.

    Remind me to thank that teacher if I ever see him again. My life is so much better now that I’m rid of the worry and fear being a Christian brings.

  • http://mathmojo.com/chronicles Brian

    Maybe mean, vindictive, mentally unstable mungbats should not be allowed to have children, which would solve the problem of their kids having to be subjected to rational education.

    OK, so that’s facetious. I wish that the mungbats would admit to the stupidity of their arguments, though.

    Those parents should “thank god” that their kids have such a good teacher, instead of making up some hateful crap to support their superstitious prejudices.

    Keep up the great work, despite the mungbats!

  • mediajackal

    I dunno if Greg Laden will have time to verify the links anytime soon, but after I Googled the Illinois Family Institute, I posted some of the results on Greg’s blog. The IFI is a seriously deranged and therefore seriously dangerous hate group, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    And, this is off topic, but could someone please tell me how to post an avatar, because A) I found a good one and B) I am, to be kind, technologically challenged.

  • Piamonte

    What you do out of the classroom is none of that woman’s business. She is poking her nose into your affairs, following the pattern one can expect from “Family Group” members. They are more or less alike all over the world.

    Best wishes from Madrid (Spain).

  • Slade

    Much like Bill Donohue, this organization’s sole purpose for existence is to shop around, hunting for places to be offended.
    Even being a staunch atheist, if you were promoting non-belief in your math class, I’d say you would deserve to be fired. Indeed, if you spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the finer points of US pigeon breeding, you would also deserve to be fired. You’re not doing either, and that makes this witch hunt all the more loathsome.

  • oneblood

    Atheists promote hatred of chocolate ice cream and marmots, and thusly shouldn’t be allowed to be near our children.

    Since ice cream and marmots self-evidently exist solely for the greater good, I must concur with her wanting you to be fired.

    This so-called new atheism which promotes ice cream blasphemy like Neopolitanism, and starts sites like NotOnlyMarmots.org is proof of your evil.

    You shouldn’t be a teacher because ideas like these can be passed through osmosis.

    …and you need to get a job that lives up to my expectations of you instead of pretending to be a constructive member of society.

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  • Dawn

    You sound like a wonderful teacher! I am sorry that you had to be the victim of this intolerant woman’s witchunt. This woman sounds like a bully. Typical of those fundie “focus on the family” types. Ugh. These people really think they own the minds of their children, and it makes me sick. Control freaks, all of them.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    could someone please tell me how to post an avatar

    Create an account at http://www.gravatar.com. You basically upload an image file and associate it with an email address. Then when you post at blogs and include your email address (which remains hidden) your avatar image is fetched and displayed.

  • Nadine

    There’s nothing christian or moral about this kind of attack. And what does any of this have to do with math anyway? How would you even begin to work your personal opinions into a math class? “I don’t believe in right angles”? Hang in there, it sounds like you’ve got alot of people pulling for you.

  • AdrianT

    This is a cheap, malicious, vindictive deceitful attempt by Higgins to shut down free speech and it must be resisted head-on.

    Laurie Higgins and her crackpot organization are well known to the GLBT community. They have fought constantly to oppress gay people – most disgracefully, last year when they made TV commercials, effectively endorsing the bullying of gay kids with a sickening ant-Day of Silence advert.

    You can read on more of that on the BoxTurtleBulletin, http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/04/17/10744

    Showing solidarity from London, England.

    Adrian

  • 011235813213455

    Ms. Higgins makes the mistake of assuming, because she has one, that she “understands the adolescent mind.”

    What a cretin.

    My own kids are out of the public school system because they’re forced to acknowledge a deity in the prayer they call “The Pledge.” More than that, my eldest’s second grade teacher required the children say “Grace” before they were allowed to eat! She withheld food!

    Hey Higgins! Got a problem with that? Simpleton! Where are MY rights? Don’t have a problem trouncing my rights and taking my tax dollars to do it – now do you?

  • http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com Dale McGowan

    This kind of nut-hatchery is an incredible pain, but when there’s someone of your caliber in the hotseat, it can end up as a real positive. I assume you have a solid relationship with your administrator, yes? If s/he supports you and knows the law, let the crazy winds blow. You’ll bring credit to us all, and the non-crazy majority will learn something.

  • http://gerardmcgarry.com Gerard

    Hemant – I’m actually sorry that you’re being persecuted in this way. It really is inconceivable that attitudes like this should exist these days.

    Perhaps it’s because we friendly Atheists envision a world where people respect free thought and can agree to disagree without trying to destroy someone’s career. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and Atheists led a campaign against Christians working in schools polluting the minds of our children?

  • abb3w

    Ah, missed Ms. Higgins post here: “I have also made it abundantly clear that my goal is to provide information to District 204 parents–particularly IFI readers—about the nature of the ideas you express and endorse on your public blog so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they want their children to spend a school year under your tutelage.” However, the remark on her blog that “parents have the right not to have him as a teacher and a role model for their children” leaves that in question.

    Does the school district in question have procedures for moving a child from one math class to another, simply due to personal dislike? My experience with public schools is limited, but given that there are other concerns that have higher administrative priority (making sure classes do not exceed NCLB size limits, making sure all students have a section for courses required for graduation), the additional work-load may goes beyond “reasonable accommodation”. In that sense: no, parents might NOT have the right to demand another teacher.

    Another alternative for parents is to withdraw their students from public schools, and arrange home schooling or private school education. If this was the focus of the advocacy, however, I see no need for Ms. Higgins to be communicating with District officials on the topic.

  • Qwerty

    She now claims in an “open letter” that you’ve made two factual errors in your post. The first is that you state she wants you fired, but she claims her post is some sort of warning to parents. Of course, if all parents removed their children…

    Anyhow, as a gay male, I think she’s another homophobobe using a “family” organization to promote her intolerance. I remember the Minnesota Family Council wanted a teacher fired for having a rainbow sticker on his car.

  • Robert

    Don’t feel lonely, the Illinois ‘Family’ Institute are also opposed to ‘freedom stealing’ universal health care, people who can afford and profit from health care, obviously have the right to watch other families suffer and die due to a lack of health care. Damn that must have one interesting version of the bible, either that or they are ‘er’ likely more ‘er’ atheist than you, they just like to wrap themselves in a cloak of Christianity for marketing purposes.

  • Pingback: Daylight Atheism > Christians Persecute Atheist Teacher

  • Dave

    I’m not very good at coming up with collected intelligent arguments and I admire you for that. Kudos. It’s probably better to ignore the assholes like this, cause should you fight back it can easily spiral downwards. I concocted a small mathematical formula that you might understand that fits such a situation.

    Idiots + Controversial Issue x Internet = Shitstorm.

    Don’t Let the trolls get you down and Keep on rollin’ my friend.

    Dave

  • Bill

    I second what Dave (above) writes. Just came across this and plan to immediately buy Mr. Mehta’s book, the least I can do to support someone with integrity _and_ a sense of humor. Keep it up, sir.
    Bill


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