Math Teacher Given Green Light to Proselytize His Christian Faith

How the hell does this happen?

Bradley Johnson, a math teacher at Westview High School in the Poway Unified School District in California — a public school system — had put up banners in the classroom advocating his faith.

The banners are about 7 feet wide and 2 feet tall. One has the phrases “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America” and “God Sheds His Grace On thee.”

A second reads “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their Creator,” with the last word in uppercase letters.

Clearly, that’s what you want to see in a math classroom.

The school rightfully told him to take those banners down. There’s no reason a teacher should be pushing his faith — making students feel uncomfortable in the process — in a public school classroom. What’s a non-Christian student supposed to think? Can they get a fair shake in his class?

Lawsuits were filed. The judge issued the verdict on Friday:

Judge Roger Benitez said teacher Bradley Johnson is entitled to a declaration that his First Amendment rights were violated by the Poway Unified School District.

He also said in a ruling Friday that Johnson should get damages of $10 ?from each of nine officials he named in a lawsuit filed in 2007.

Benitez also ordered the district to allow Johnson to rehang the banners in his classroom.

What. The. Fuck.

Benitez said the district allows other teachers to post things on a variety or religious and nonreligious topics without penalty.

He said the action against Johnson amounted to discriminating against a particular point of view, which courts have long said is not permitted.

I’m not a lawyer. Someone please explain to me how this makes any sense.

***Update***: Here is the judge’s ruling (PDF).

To me, it’s opening a can of worms. Any teacher in the district can now put up signs/banner/posters indicating their faith in their classroom.

This school district has a problem — and many more potential lawsuits — on their hands.

I wonder if the same verdict would have been issued if the banners read: “There is no God,” “God Bless AmericaN” or “One Nation Indivisible”…

I guess that test may happen before long now that’s it’s legal to do so.

This only serves to harm the students. Johnson is more interested in proselytizing his faith than teaching his subject. And Judge Benitez is an accomplice in letting him continue.

(Thanks to Ben for the link)

  • http://ARFreethinkers.org LeeWood

    Maybe his math students should ask him,
    “If one plus one plus one equals three, then how does One son plus One Father plus One spirit equal ONE God!?!”

  • trranssami

    “I wonder if the same verdict would have been issued if the banners read: “There is no God,” “God Bless AmericaN” or “One Nation Indivisible”

    If you really need the answer to that just look at where it says ‘in god we trust’ on your money or go watch some public school children being forced to pledge allegiance to “on nation UNDER GOD” every weekday.

    Thats the rule in this country. Christians get to force their religion, er, ‘ceremonial deism’ as much as they want on us and we just have to shut up and take it. Anyone who is a fraction as vocal as them in response is an ‘angsthiests’ who ‘hates faith’.

  • Ben Isgur

    I actually think the teacher should’ve won the case–though it should be unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional that the government endorses those slogans–on our money, in our pledge, in our national anthem and one of our most famous patriotic songs, and in the declaration–but once the government has endorsed them (as it does by placing them where it has) I think it is constitutional for them to be displayed in a public building.

    It seems very easy to classify this as patriotism.

  • tues82

    I thought only Texas schools cared more about religion than education…..the disease is spreading……

  • Staceyjw

    WTF? POWAY? I’m not too far from there, it doesn’t strike me as as town that would condone this. I guess it can happen anywhere…..

    This has to be stopped, I hope the FRFF will get it overturned. The teachers speech is is not a personal when teaching in a PUBLIC school. Isn’t this why they are held to such insane standards of behavior??? Does this mean Hemant can now fly giant atheist banners in HIS classroom? Can you imagine the outrage if this happened????

    Maybe a school kid should do just that. Like the nativity, it only gets taken down after they realize that others will get to share too!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    WTF indeed!

    Looks like an example of an activist judge if I ever saw one.

  • Josh BA

    Benitez said the district allows other teachers to post things on a variety or religious and nonreligious topics without penalty.

    That sentence is the key to the ruling. By allowing other religious messages to be posted by other teachers they have made it so that telling only this one person that he can’t do so is unconstitutional.

    A quick and easy fix is available: ban all personal religious messages by everyone. That will make it okay for them to tell him to remove them because then they are not being discriminatory. Or, if banning them all is undesirable, institute a good taste policy and limit the physical size of personal displays.

  • http://mimi-n-moe.blogspot.com/ Karen

    I am stunned. I can’t even think of a response. I wonder what the students think? This kind of thing scares me.

  • Hugh

    OMFG!!! Unbelievable!

    I hope the school district appeals the hell out of this. Such a ghastly decision cannot be allowed to stand.

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

    Disgusting.

  • Polly

    If the school allowed other messages then it might have been discriminatory to single out this guy.

    Let’s see:
    “In God We Trust” – on the official currency of the US.

    “One Nation Under God” – taken from the official Pledge of Allegiance (as it is currently)

    “God Bless America” and “God Shed His Grace On thee” – I think these should have been taken down. Nevertheless, while not “official” in any way, they’re lyrics to 2 traditional patriotic songs and are practically second national anthems. I’m not patriotic, but this is what countries do: they have flags, special national hymns, mottos, and other silly stuff.
    I don’t expect an American court to fault a guy for being too enthusiastic an American.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com Eamon Knight

    That sentence is the key to the ruling. By allowing other religious messages to be posted by other teachers they have made it so that telling only this one person that he can’t do so is unconstitutional.

    Exactly. My knowledge of American ConLaw is mostly derived from reading Ed Brayton’s blog, but this sounds like a case of having created a “limited open forum”. Basically, once you let in some, you have to let in everyone. School administrations (who universally appear to be legally naive) need to make consistent rules up front about what is permitted, and in a way that does not single out a particular point of view.

  • http://claire-chan.livejournal.com/profile Claire Binkley

    How upsetting!! Mathematics, at that!

  • Jose Diaz-Marin

    No surprise here… Judge Roger Benitez was one of those George Bush’s nominated Judges:

    http://judgepedia.org/index.php/Roger_Benitez
    His freedom of speech was violated? I would agree if he hanged his banners in the front lawn of HIS house, not in a public classroom maintained with our taxpayer money… Yes, this one of those right wing activist judges.

  • http://www.travisjmorgan.com Travis Morgan

    WTF does his banners have to do with math? I’m sure he will try to provide some correlation just to justify them, but his real intentions are obvious. Look how he has stressed “CREATOR” in all uppercase in a huge font. Plus standing alone, they make no mention of anything related to math. As much as I would like some atheists or secularists in the school to post some Flying Spaghetti Monster Propaganda in their class just prove how ridiculous allowing this is, I am reluctant to suggest it since it would be at the expense of the children’s education. This is really crazy though, and something should be done. Hopefully some children will complain or refuse his class for a different math teacher that can keep it neutral. He is so dirty to take advantage of his role in this way.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    If Bradley Johnson were to now put up even larger banners covering all usable space on the walls (including white/black board and TV) and then proceed to spend each class only reading from the bible, judge Roger Benitez will probably say that

    the district allows other teachers to say things on a variety of religious and nonreligious topics without penalty. Therefore, it is constitutional for Johnson to continue his readings.

  • JustSayin’

    The guy has obviously been very shrewd in doing this. He’s been careful to only use slogans that are pretty much sanctioned by the government, or are at least “official” in the mind of the public. That, as evidenced by the verdict, seems to have given him quite a bit of wiggle room.

  • Heidi

    I wonder if there are any Wiccan teachers in that school system. If so, time for Blessed Be posters.

  • http://skeptigirl.wordpress.com Kimbo Jones

    Confused. I would think the banners are a violation of the *children’s* first amendment rights. It’s a public school.

  • http://themousesnest.blogspot.com Mouse

    I want to know what those other religious and political postings were. Are these other teachers’ personal beliefs or are they tied to courses? For example, are we talking about the Latin teacher posting a chart of the Roman gods and a world history teacher with posters on the religions they encounter in their studies OR are they truly personal expressions of belief unconnected to anything else?

  • James H

    That sentence is the key to the ruling. By allowing other religious messages to be posted by other teachers they have made it so that telling only this one person that he can’t do so is unconstitutional.

    Without reading the judge’s opinion, I have to agree on this point. If signs in general are permitted, but this teacher’s signs are prohibited, then it is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

  • James H

    Here is the judge’s opinion.

  • http://www.unmails.com Tyler

    I play softball in Poway.

    Just saying.

  • http://blog.crisswrites.com Criss

    As a Sunday-school-teaching Christian and a former public school teacher (in Texas, no less), I have to say NO, this guy is NOT allowed to post his propaganda IN THE CLASSROOM.

    As others have said, if he wants to hang these banners IN HIS HOUSE, then bully for him. NOT IN MY CHILD’S CLASSROOM.

    If other teachers are allowed “to post things on a variety or religious and nonreligious topics without penalty,” then could I post “Save ROE” posters in my classroom? “MY body, MY choice”? How about hanging a couple of wire coat hangers from the ceiling? How long before I got fired, if I tried something like that??

    I don’t do algebra homework in church, so keep your personal beliefs out of my classrooms. There’s a reason I go to CHURCH on Sundays — there’s a time and a place, people. “Christians,” please, learn this, and stop embarrassing the rest of us.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    The concepts of “fair” and equal treatment” are darlings of the radical religious right, especially in the arena of science education. “Teach the controversy” appeals to the inherent instinct we (or many of us) Americans seem to have for equality or fairness. In essence the judge ruled, if we apply the law in an idiotic fashion in one situation, we must be equally idiotic in others. After all, it’s only “fair”.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Looking over the “Facts” section of the judges decision, it looks like the school is filled with inappropriate (for a public school) messages (even though quite a few, if not most, of the slogans/posters listed are secular and political.)

    But, the two wrongs making a right decisions are ridiculous. The other teachers just need to take down their posters, as well.

    How the word “peace” written in several languages by one teacher allows this teacher to proselytize his god is beyond me.

  • Deiloh

    None of these are quotes from the bible, that may be why it is being allowed. But if it is history that is okay to string across a classroom, how about some good old Paine, Franklin, or Jefferson… maybe strung across the field by a physical education teacher.

  • Ron in Houston

    Guys – if you read the opinion you’ll also see that they allowed a teacher to post “Imagine” from John Lennon so it’s not like they’re only letting in religious statements.

    They’ve also allowed things like the picture of the Dali Lama to be posted.

    The problem is they singled this guy out and told him to take them down even though he chose phrases that were both religious and historical.

    They probably should have told all the teachers to take down their banners.

    My only problem with that solution was that one of the teachers posted a poster for “Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.”

    Taking that down would have been true heresy.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    The school should just make a rule that each teacher gets a little area (perhaps 2 square feet) of personal expression in the classroom. They can then put anything they want in it that isn’t outright offensive. (I know, what defines offensive). Then at least they can continue their tradition of personal expression without filling the classrooms with huge banners of potentially distracting propaganda. I’m sure Johnson will complain that his large banners are being discriminated against, but if the policy is applied uniformly to all teachers, even Benitez would find it hard press to come to his aide.

    Since Johnson was awarded $90 plus reasonable attorney fees, (and if his attorney fees were already paid for by Christian watch groups) then he would have plenty of money to buy some nice new size appropriate expression plaques which he could swap out as the mood suits him.

    Or even better, just tell the teachers to keep their religious/political viewpoints private and decorate the classroom with subject-appropriate material.

  • SaaD

    why does no one object to statement “All men are created equal”, shouldn’t it be modified to “All humans are equal” so that it includes women too. Or will it take few more generations for people to correct it ?

    • Anonymous

      And why do they latch onto the part where it mentions a Creator, but not embrace the “all men are created equal” part when it comes to LGBT rights? 

  • AxeGrrl

    Mouse wrote:

    I want to know what those other religious and political postings were. Are these other teachers’ personal beliefs or are they tied to courses? For example, are we talking about the Latin teacher posting a chart of the Roman gods and a world history teacher with posters on the religions they encounter in their studies OR are they truly personal expressions of belief unconnected to anything else?

    Yeah, I’d like to see them too……as Criss expressed:

    If other teachers are allowed “to post things on a variety or religious and nonreligious topics without penalty,” then could I post “Save ROE” posters in my classroom? “MY body, MY choice”?

  • Jonas

    Get Steven Colbert to interview him.

    Believe in the Bible? II Kings –
    Pi = 3, sir? Pi = 3.
    Do you teach Pi = 3 ?
    no?
    God Hat*s you. You’re Damning yourself to H*ll Sir.

  • Joffan

    The can of worms was already open before these posters were ordered down.

    It looks to me like the judge was right. Other posters displayed by various teachers, described and uncontested in the judgement, were sufficiently varied that to discriminate against this one teacher’s posters would indeed be unfair.

    And yes, Johnson’s posters are cautiously couched as phrases taken from historic and patriotic sources – although the “all men are created equal; they are endowed by their creator” might more aptly be said to have been carved from its source, fragmentary as it is. So it would be hard indeed, under the law and the practice of the school, to maintain that this is a clear breach of establishment.

  • GreyTheory

    actually, Poway is the absolute best case scenario for the religious nut jobs.. used to live in Oceanside on the other side of the county; Poway/Rancho Bernardo is one of the more conservative voting districts in the nation – lots of military, defense contractors, and evangelicals.

    Reading the ruling, best way to approach in appeal would be the “unrelated to the subject matter” argument. Math classes have nothing to do with history, so unless he miraculously finds the Grand Equation of God, take it down. Unfortunately this would also require removing the “Imagine” poster and make classrooms a sterile place even more suited for creating brainless drones.

  • Miko

    Ben Isgur: It seems very easy to classify this as patriotism.

    I say we ban patriotism in the classroom too.

    Jose Diaz-Marin: No surprise here… Judge Roger Benitez was one of those George Bush’s nominated Judges:

    Yeah, just like John E. Jones III. It’d be convenient if there were some black-and-white way or telling which judges were good or bad based on the party of the president that appointed them, but there isn’t. Take the Supreme Court: despite being appointed by members of both parties, eight of nine justices are conservatives, and the one moderate/liberal on the court (Anthony Kennedy) was appointed by Reagan, one of the worst presidents the U.S. had ever had, prior to those elected after 1999.

  • Shawn

    Johnson is more interested in proselytizing his faith than teaching his subject.

    …is this a conclusion based on evidence? I realize the banners and slogans are physically large, and the words on them are very in-your-face (from a non- or moderately-religious perspective), but I see no indication that his desire or ability to teach is exceeded by his religiosity. He could be Mr. Holland, Sidney Poitier or Michelle Pfeiffer, just with a misguided religious component. Enrich their minds, save their souls. Of course, it’s late in the day and I might have missed something.

  • Miko

    Victor: But, the two wrongs making a right decisions are ridiculous. The other teachers just need to take down their posters, as well.

    How the word “peace” written in several languages by one teacher allows this teacher to proselytize his god is beyond me.

    Instituting a policy in which all teachers take down posters unrelated to class material would be one solution. But the court is correct that picking on one person, however moronic his views, is not a good policy. It’s probably not best to call this “two wrongs make a right,” since we live in a society with diverse enough viewpoints that we can’t all agree on what messages are right or wrong. A better phrase would be “rule of law” or “Jeffersonian equality” (that is, “equality of authority”). Just as the government should not be allowed to permit heterosexual marriage but deny homosexual marriage or forbid discrimination against a certain list of groups but allow discrimination against others, it shouldn’t be allowed to censor some messages while allowing other messages of the same general character. Personally, I’d prefer that the government get entirely out of the marriage, discrimination, and censorship issues, but I still feel that the worst possible outcome is one in which the government (or the school administration) interferes in these areas selectively.

    GreyTheory: Unfortunately this would also require removing the “Imagine” poster and make classrooms a sterile place even more suited for creating brainless drones.

    Not quite. It would just limit teachers to putting up material relevant to their class. Johnson is free to keep up the posters on calculus. An art teacher is free to put up some prints. An English teacher is free to put in a bust of Shakespeare. A French teacher can put up a poster of the Eiffel Tower.

  • noah

    the opinion makes pretty clear why the establishment clause isn’t violated. The school lets the teachers put personal messages up in their class rooms, including a wide variety of religious symbols, so how could anybody think the school was endorsing a particular religion:

    “There is no realistic danger that an observer would think that the Poway Unified School District was endorsing a particular religion or a particular church or creed by permitting Johnson’s personal patriotic banners to remain on his classroom wall. Any perceived endorsement of a single religion is dispelled by the fact that other teachers are also permitted to display other religious messages and anti-religious messages on classroom walls.”

    –I’m not a big fan of the school’s policy, but the decision makes a lot of sense.

  • Parse

    Oi. I’m reading through the ruling now. Some interesting facts, not mentioned by Hemant:
    Page 6:

    In fact, over the years Johnson has taught in the Poway Unified School District, Johnson received no complaints about the banners from the many individuals who have been inside his classroom including: seven different principals, numerous school board members, superintendents, and assistant superintendents, over 4,000 students and several thousand parents of students.

    In other words, because nobody else complained, it’s acceptable.

    Page 6-7

    [Assistant Superintendant] Chiment testified that none of the individual phrases on the banners would be a problem, rather it was the combined influence that “over-emphasized” God. Chiment also testified that the problem was that the phrases were taken out of their original contexts. Chiment directed that a full copy of the Declaration of Independence and pictures of U.S. coins be delivered to Johnson so that Johnson could place them on the wall instead of his banners. Johnson declined. Johnson offered to post for display the full texts from which each of the banner phrases came, around the banners. Chiment disapproved.

    “Fix your quote mines, please, by showing them in context. We’ll even pay for them.” “Not if I have to remove the mined gems.”
    Page 8

    That God places prominently in our Nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.

    This Judge sounds like a graduate of David Barton’s schooling.
    Page 16

    One banner contains an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, this Nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty, observing: “All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator” with unalienable rights.

    Except by removing those last three words from the sentence, he has completely changed the meaning. Trying that with his own words on Page 21 gives “But not all speech by a government employee is government speech. A government employee may be engaged in his or her own private speech while on government property.”

    In any case, it’s because of jerks like Mr. Johnson why schools have to crack down on every possibly contentious statement or poster. They’ll use the existence of the smaller expressions of individuality to excuse their giant proselytization efforts.

    (If nothing else, his ‘historical context’ excuses would garner a lot more sympathy if he taught history, not math. If you want history in the math classroom, do Pythagoras, Euler, or Babbage, not religious/pseudopatriotic claptrap like this.)

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    I’ve read the decision, and while I have a few quibbles with it (e.g., I think this teacher’s banners *do* advocate for the existence of God, but the case law seems to go the other way), it appears to be a valid decision consistent with precedent regarding a limited public forum. Given the amount of free speech teachers are permitted at this school, they can’t disallow just this teacher’s religious speech.

    This should also mean that an atheist teacher can post critiques of religion as well at this school, a Scientologist can post quotes from L. Ron Hubbard, and so forth.

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com ObSciGuy

    I have to agree with the judge here for reasons already mentioned by others above.

    Should the FFRF should turn their eyes to the school and not the teacher?

    Should the policies on religious expression be changed so they are more tolerant of religious views held by students, but that might not be reflected in those of the teaching staff?

    It seems that without giving students some wall space for such banners, they’re bordering on discriminating against students? (Ok, that’s maybe a bit of a stretch)

  • Captain Werewolf

    Ditto @Jim Lippard. The opinion looks pretty straightforward. There doesn’t seem to be an excessive entanglement issue, and other teachers have been allowed to put up other political, religious, and cultural items. I think it just makes the guy a martyr to force him to take them down; we should have enough trust in our kids that they’ll make fun of the weird math teacher with the giant banners.

  • Zensluv

    I agree that the banners are pretty ridiculous and their size and locations are somewhat intimidating. However, I would like to point out that in high school, the students (or their parents, if they want) can schedule their courses so they take math with a different teacher if the signs are too distracting or offensive. I foresee that future cases under different contexts will likely to be more difficult for students to resolve.

  • http://blog.crisswrites.com Criss

    @Zensluv:

    “However, I would like to point out that in high school, the students (or their parents, if they want) can schedule their courses so they take math with a different teacher if the signs are too distracting or offensive.”

    Not necessarily. Whether a student can transfer out of this teacher’s class depends on the student’s other classes (if you’re in orchestra/band/cheerleading/AP courses there is only one class period when your course/level is offered and those classes can’t be shuffled around), the other teachers’ course loads and schedules, and what this guy teaches. Does he teach regular courses? How many other sections of that course are available? When are they offered? How many students are in those classes?

    Sure, the counterargument would be “the student can miss out on X to be in a different class,” but school is FOR THE STUDENTS. The student should not have to miss out on anything because one pigheaded teacher wants to post his propaganda on his walls.

    In order to learn (which, last I checked, was, um, the purpose of school), students must feel secure and comfortable. Those banners are ridiculous and intimidating, no matter what some right-wing judge says or what some poorly-worded policy allows in loopholes. As a female, I do take offense to “All MEN are created equal…” Now, as a 32-year-old adult, I can speak up for myself. As a 14-year-old high school student I would not have. I would have learned the lesson the math teacher wanted to teach me: in his eyes, and in the eyes of his “god,” as a girl I was worth less than the boys. I would have sat in my chair and kept my head down, like a good little submissive girl should.

    (That may not be the message this teacher is MEANING to send, but that’s the message his banners are sending, intentional or not.)

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com ObSciGuy

    Just add this case to yet another in the history of religious free speech in this district. Check out this case from 2007…

    http://www.10news.com/news/10844949/detail.html

    (Jan 2007) SAN DIEGO — A federal judge has ruled in favor of Poway school officials in the case of siblings who claimed their constitutional rights were violated when one of them was pulled from class for wearing a T-shirt deriding homosexuality as “shameful” …

    Maybe religious expression is only protected when it isn’t paraphrased? After all, calling homosexuality shameful seems easy enough to justify as a religiouis belief: Leviticus 18:22 seems pretty clear: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Plenty more justification elsewhere in the bible.

    The appeal fell through in this case…

    The appeals court ruling, which applied to all courts in California and most of the western United States, had upheld a U.S. District Court judge’s decision that allowed schools to stop students from wearing statements thought to demean or infringe on the rights of others.

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com ObSciGuy

    (continuing from above…)

    More on the Harper vs. Poway case can be found at

    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=18251

    and in this review on student’s rights to free speech:

    http://www.law.northwestern.edu/lawreview/v102/n3/1501/LR102n3Mollen.pdf

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    That’s all a bit over the top.

  • muggle

    The school, not the judge, fucked up. If you read the decision, there were numerous displays allowed, several as large or larger than his. To just make one teacher take his down is discrimatory.

    That said, the school policy is wrong. As Criss said, it’s not the time or the place for their personal expression.

    The school should change their policy and enforce it equally. If FFRF does take this up, that’s the angle they should take.

    Now to my fellow feminists, please get over the “all men were created equal” jazz. It’s a quotation. Are you suggesting that quotes should be altered to make them PC? I hope not.

  • turkey

    In my high school, the Youth for Christ club made a bunch of construction paper hearts with Bible verses about how much God loves you on them for Valentine’s Day, and they wanted to hang them in the hallway but the principal refused permission. After that, at least one teacher (there may have been more) allowed them to hang the hearts in his classroom. Because of this incident, I assumed that teachers’ classrooms were considered semi-private.

    Oh, that one teacher was a math teacher too. What’s with that?

  • liz

    wow…just…wow

  • http://thescythe.org Eris

    It sounds like the district court made the correct decision in this case since the school really did single out this teacher specifically over because his religious message was deemed unacceptable while the religious messages of other teachers were accepted. The school may now revise their policy to more carefully define what is and isn’t allowed, although thanks to the “patriotic” flavor of his banners, I expect it will be difficult to craft a policy that bans them unless that policy is extremely restrictive, such as a blanket ban on anything or a ban that allows only course related materials. Neither of those options sound appealing.

    I mentioned this story to my wife and she was of the opinion that leaving the current policy in place might be the best thing, since at least in the current situation students are being exposed to a wide variety of opinions, and thus they are being challenged to think about things that they may not otherwise be exposed to. The court ruling mentioned a teacher with quotes from Gandhi, for example, and I’m sure that any students from fundamentalist Christian families have probably not been exposed to his ideas before.

    The benefits of free speech often come with the price that you have to put up with some speech that isn’t itself very beneficial.

  • AxeGrrl

    Unless there are teachers who have similar signs espousing atheism as unequivocally/in-your-face as this teacher espouses God-belief, I’ll be dubious of the ‘correctness’ of this situation.

    Another teacher should put up a similarly-sized sign saying ‘God is dead’ ~ if that gets a pass, fine. If it doesn’t, the apparent ‘fairness’ of this decision is bogus.

  • http: Geek Gazette

    It is scary that in this day and age that religion is still a point to be argued. The lack of common sense in this country is becoming increasingly scary. It is a sad day when most of the countries of the world look at us as a bunch of bible thumpin zealots. We use to be the country that others looked up to, now we are becoming a joke or a force to be feared.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    What a strange bunch you Americans are.

  • Christophe Thill

    Are all men really equal ? Some are better endowed than others…

  • Joffan

    Just musing on “God shed his grace on thee”, and the odd choice for the verb there…

    “Shed”. It sounds rather unpleasant, like you’re a hook for God’s damp coat, or the rug he scratches unwanted hair onto.

  • cathy

    @Christophe, that’s the first thing that entered my mind when I saw that banner. Dirty minds must think alike. My next thought was, ‘wait, considering that this phrase usually only is applied to male genitals, are those that aren’t ‘endowed’ inferior?’

  • Pingback: Math teacher must be allowed to hang God banners « Political Cartel

  • JayDubb

    Ok people: First of all, this teacher is – yes – expressing commonly known, explicit excerpts from documents of the United States of America. He teaches in a Government school, therefore it is pertinent. Secondly, his emphasis on “CREATOR” is obviously – a belief, yes – but more importantly, a statement of defense against the Darwinism that has skewed the study of natural sciences, and thirdly, finally: a traditional and honest examination of mathematics, from simple to complex, from arithmetic on up through physics and calculus does something amazing. It reveals creation, the order and elements, cause and effect thereof. It is an order revealing intelligent life, and intelligent design. The idea of a Creator is germane to science of math.

  • Steve

    If anyone had bothered to read the ruling you would have seen that it was based on the school district allowing all sorts of non-Christian religious postering by teachers, anti religious postering and advocacy for such causes as gay rights.
    So the ruling was: you have created/ allowed a limited free speech forum for teachers to express their personal beliefs. You can eliminate all the posters or you can leave all the posters. You can’t decide to draw the line at Deist (not even Christian)posters that reflect the Declaration of Independence and the views of the founders.
    Which part of this don’t you get? If the science teacher can use her classroom to advocate gay rights, why can’t the math teacher use his to to advocate deism?

  • Tammy

    Exactly what Steve posted – why is it posters of Ghandi, global warming, gay rights, Malcolm X and other worthy images to perhaps inspire the students (isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing in public schools?) are allowed in classrooms but lines from our Pledge are not? C’mon! School is about exposing students to all concepts, ideas, thoughts and allowing them to learn, grow and make decisions for themselves! We no more want them being taught only anti-religious views than you want them taught strictly religious views.

  • Concerned ADULT

    Are you people kidding me? Read the brief of the case and the court’s ruling. How can anyone here say this is unfair? Only a complete and utter moron would think this is not a FAIR and JUST ruling. Other teachers are hanging other religious slogans and statements of belief in their classrooms and this guy is singled out because his are Judeo-Christian? And somehow any of you think this is a GOOD idea?

    Let me illustrate in a way many of you may be able to understand… What would happen if teachers started hanging political slogans and endorsements in their classrooms and the school board banned endorsements of same-sex marriage? Should that be fair? Or would you be outraged by the school “targeting” specific messages that you feel strongly about?

    How is this any different? How can any governing body publicly ban one religion and not another?

  • Larry

    If you’d bothered to read the entire story and then report it to your readers, you would know that MANY teachers in the school had religious references in their classrooms to other faiths (Buddhism, Judaism and Islam to name a few). The problem wasn’t that this teacher put up Christian posters, it’s that he was the ONLY teacher asked to take his religion-themed propoganda. Instead of picking on Christians, why not pick on the teachers the principal didn’t attack? No religion has a place in school at all but you shouldn’t be singling out Christians.

  • John

    You name yourself the “friendly” atheist but your site is not really that friendly.

    If you despise the fundamental precepts of America, why did you come here?

  • Brian Cooper

    The first amendment protects “free exercise” while prohibiting government “establishment.” (If you think too deeply about it, that makes no sense– how can you say you aren’t endorsing relgion when you singled it out for a special discussion in the constitution. But i digress.)

    So a math teacher is not a robot who is only allowed to talk about math math math. He’s a human being, and human beings have all kinds of crazy ideas. And in america you get to say those out loud.

    Of course there are limits. Always. Religious expression that directly denigrated others based on their religious beliefs would be discriminatory and illegal. And I expect most schools would take the ACLU’s position that the school should not allow any religous or anti-religious expression. (Another teacher had tibetan prayer flags, another something from Hinduism, another the lyrics from imagine: “imagine there’s no heaven.” Another had sports stars– whom a future civilization may mistake for our gods.)

    But i actually think it’s kinf of cool for kids to see that adults who care enough about them to make education their life calling can have a diversity of views. It’s the kind of thing that might make a kid think he could write a blog about his atheism and no one would try to make him take it down.


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