I remember studying ancient Greek and Roman gods in high school. Everybody knew it was complete nonsense — those gods didn’t really exist — but it was interesting (or so we were told) because so much ancient literature revolved around those characters.
So if the teacher had made the comment that Greek mythical characters were “religious, superstitious nonsense” and had no basis in reality there would have been no problem.
But James Corbett said it about creationism in the classroom, and in March, he lost a 16-month legal battle, with the court concluding he violated the first amendment:
“Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense,'” U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”
The establishment clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” and has been interpreted by U.S. courts to also prohibit government employees from displaying religious hostility.
Creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense. It is not based on history or science, but on an ancient book. If children want to believe that, they can — but I think it’s a teacher’s role to show them that those beliefs do not have a basis in reality.
But was Mr. Corbett going over the line when he called it “religious, superstitious nonsense” — or was he simply stating a fact that should be protected under his 1st Amendment rights?