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Education United States News Politics

Teacher Cannot Be Sued For Denying Creationism 775

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-there-be-rights dept.
gzipped_tar writes "A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a public high school teacher in Mission Viejo, California may not be sued for making hostile remarks about religion in his classroom. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a student charging that the teacher's hostile remarks about creationism and religious faith violated a First Amendment mandate that the government remain neutral in matters of religion. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the lawsuit must be thrown out of court because the teacher was entitled to immunity."
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Teacher Cannot Be Sued For Denying Creationism

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  • by Swoopy (101558) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @09:51AM (#37153344)

    So is creationism science, or is it religion?
    I thought that creationists argued that their ideas were "scientific" or was that the intelligent designers?
    Anyway, either it's a religion, the basis for the creationists' case here, and would therefore have no place in a proper education system to begin with,
    or creationism is a science, giving it a place in the education system but allowing teacher to have & express a negative opinion about it.
    This seems the kind of circular reasoning we've come to expect from creationists and intteligent design proponents, in yet another interesting new form.

  • by the_raptor (652941) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @09:51AM (#37153348)

    Who cares if the teacher was criticising religion or not. Individual opinion of people who work for the government is not the same as government policy.

    Here is the part of the first amendment of the US constitution that is pertinent to the case:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Nope, doesn't say "government workers have to have neutral attitudes towards religion". Members of government, let alone government workers, in the US can be as rapidly pro or anti religious as they like and they won't break the first amendment unless they start making policy that establishes religion or prevents the free exercise thereof.

    If the nutjob who sued can't even understand what the first amendment protects, they sure as hell aren't going to distinguish between those who say creationism isn't a science (I say that and I am an evangelical Christian) and straight out attacks against religion.

    P.S. I am an Australian and I find it sad that I know more about the US constitution than most Americans and the talking heads on TV.

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:05AM (#37153444)

    I agree, 1st grade science should be oriented around presenting evidence to debunk the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.

    1st grade science should not teach that, but what happens when people try to make Santology part of the 9th grade science syllabus? I can understand teachers not wanting to teach it, but when a student asks why it is not being taught should they be able to discuss the reasons in class?

  • Good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:24AM (#37153576)

    Religion makes people dangerous. Faith makes people willing to fly planes into buildings and murder thousands of innocent civilians at the behest of evil humans that set themselves up as the voice of god. Faith makes people blow up clinics. It makes people seek to deny fundamental human rights from their neighbors (like the right to love and marry who one chooses).

    Believing in God would be fine if it didn't include believing in whatever evil things some voice-of-god humans have to say.

  • I'm all for it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bussdriver (620565) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:51AM (#37153834)

    The science teachers should bash religion all the want. Send your kids to church to learn mythology; or allow the humanities teachers to discuss religions equally.

    The constitution is against promotion of a religion -- NO pushing of religion. period. Keep religion out of government is the whole point. (remember, the king of England was heavily connected to religion...) Somebody making comments against any of the many idiocies of our primitive ancient (older than mid-evil) beliefs is not violating this at all! Heresy could be a crime if if it wasn't for the prohibition of religion in government. Heresy includes a lot of science, logic, philosophy etc.

    Furthermore, my point is that government can bash all religion equally without promoting any single one of them; some could argue that the banning of religion is possible to a degree but I'm not going there (human sacrifices and many other religious practices are illegal and its constitutional.) Non-religion is not a religion. So you are not promoting 1 religion over the others if you are "attacking" them all fairly.

    "FREE PRESS" but we tax them... That severely limits the press of today where the real news comes from papers who are going broke. Religions, they don't get taxed yet they get less empowerment in the constitution than the press does.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2011 @10:59AM (#37153932)
    http://chadfarnan.com/ [chadfarnan.com]

    Further support of parent's comments, the above URL has a big link to "Advocates for Fait and Freedom" under the caption of "support chad by supporting."

    I can't say I give enough of a fuck to trace the money trail, but if it's a legit non-profit, more info can be gleaned from irs.gov
  • Re:Transcript (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:43AM (#37154382)
    Yes, but his ignorance shows pretty clearly. He didn't explicitly state what he thought Aristotle said, but he seems to think Aristotle said that god created the universe. Aristotle thought the universe was eternal, not that it had been created or brought into existence by some god. In fact he argues that neither time nor motion can have a beginning because of what they are. His arguments for the existence of god were, in fact, based on this premise. It would really be nice if people who brought up ancient philosophers actually bothered reading and understanding them for once.
  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Saturday August 20, 2011 @12:46PM (#37154972) Homepage Journal

    My reading on this is that the Court has essentially said "It does not matter at the moment whether the teacher was right or wrong in their actions. What matters at the moment is that filing a lawsuit against the teacher is the wrong approach."

    The plaintiffs should have filed suit against the school, not the teacher. That is why the teacher has immunity. It is school policies that dictate what a teacher may or may not say in classroom; it is the school policies that the plaintiffs should be challenging. Teachers need to be protected against nuisance suits concerning school policies.

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 20, 2011 @01:27PM (#37155284) Journal

    Bimbo Newton Crosby. We had a truly wonderful history teacher, right in the middle of the bible belt, that actually had students WANTING to learn American history! How did he do that? Because he said like six degrees EVERYTHING in American history can be traced forwards or backwards to Woodstock in under 6 steps. to him Woodstock was a watershed moment and all us kids worked our ass off trying to stump him, never did.

    So what happened? At the end of the semester as a consolation prize after our tests (highest scores ever for that class in that school BTW) he played us the entire Woodstock concert...and was promptly fired for showing a movie that promoted sex and drugs to HS students.

    So everything went back to the way it was, scores sucked in american history because most of the guys were blowing joints in the parking lot before class and were sleeping through most of it, just another wasted class in another wasted day in the sausage factory. Like George Carlin said they don't want those that can think, they want worker drones.

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @03:45PM (#37156316) Journal
    Bullshit, the 9th is only reversed more because they see more cases, any individual case is no more likely to be overturned coming out of the 9th.
  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @04:03PM (#37156422)

    An elegant way you put that if I do say so myself. The miraculous would simply be mundane. Who's to say that God didn't create it, but until it can be proven, it's just a hypothesis, not a theory. Basically an unproven idea. Perfectly acceptable for a theology class, or possibly a history class to discuss creationism, but not as a science topic.

    Unfortunately, Religion (meant in a general sense, although aimed unfortunately at Christianity in this case), is trying to force it's way into government in a way the founding fathers specifically tried to avoid. They seem to crave a Christian 'state'. A state sponsored religion without realizing the very thing they are fighting for, would invalidate or deny that same choice in others. Ironically the very reason for the middle east and it's terror attacks on the US are founded in a theocracy. They very thing social conservatives claim to be fighting, they would put in place here.

    Separation of Church and State as many like to call it, isn't about protecting the government from the people and whatever religion they choose (or don't choose), but rather it's about protecting the people from the government. Saddening and at times frustrating that these people simply don't see that.

    Some times I'm amazed at the wisdom the founding fathers have shown. To think of the foresight that went into the document, and how well the Constitution has held up, even hundreds of years later is amazing if you think about it.

  • by euroq (1818100) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @04:29PM (#37156600)

    Johny, probably the son of somebody in the hate group AFA, was upset because the teacher didn't agree with his mommy and daddy so tax payers had to throw a bunch of money away in courts to make Johny feel good? Are spoiled evangelical kids so important we have to pay for their tantrums?

    Yes, apparently the kid was so spoiled that his classmates called him "princess".

    Here is a quote about the case from the defendant himself back in February ( http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/james-corbett-case-update-12-feb-%E2%80%9811/ [wordpress.com] )

    I’m Dr. Corbett. One thing readers should understand is that when my school-provided attorney made the decision to ask a judge rather than a judge decide the case, the law required that all the “facts” be considered in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (Chad). That meant that we could not challenge the validity of the recordings, which were heavily edited. It meant that we could not point out how each and every comment clearly related to the curriculum. I might add, Chad’s recording were in violation of California law.
    This case was never about religion. It was about a whiny little boy who admitted he didn’t do his homework and who’s helicopter parents intervened so often in school and on the water polo team that other students called him “princess.” Neither Chad, his parents nor his lawyers, the so called “Advocates for Faith and Freedom,” ever made an attempt to even talk to me or attempt to resolve the issues prior to filing a lawsuit. It is my opinion that the “Advocates” were far more interested in having a case they could use for fundraising than they were in dealing with the issues. They are a textbook example of exactly what I commented on in class, that some people use the faith of others to line their pockets with gold or to gain political power. I believe such use of religion is vastly more offensive than calling Biblical creation “superstitious, religious nonsense,” which is obviously true.”

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @05:08PM (#37156818)

    Did you miss the societal concepts (meaning I'm not a Hebrew) of the Old Testament? To me, the old testament consists of historical narratives, morality concepts, and life lessons (the Ark isn't about the flood, it's about doing what you know is right when people are mocking you...)

    In your list, you've just laid out things that are in the Bible regarding the history of Israel. Whether or not you take that to mean that we should follow those tenets are another matter. I never said the Bible couldn't be abused... just like science is abused.

    What you miss, or seem to, is that the central figure of the New Testament is pretty spot on as to how you should treat others. If you don't think so, that's fine. You don't have to. I am not here to promote religiosity.

    I don't blindly follow religion... religion != Bible. There's a ton of great stuff in there and simply because there's stuff in there about early Hebrew culture, doesn't mean we should toss out the awesome stuff (Love God with all your heart, mind, and spirit, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.).... You're missing out.

  • by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Saturday August 20, 2011 @07:19PM (#37157566) Homepage Journal

    This is a logical fallacy. To consider the argument, you have to presume that there is a God capable of building a human being from dust, which God also created first. The argument that God must have made Eve to be a clone assumes that God didn't create something new in the process, which is kind of contrary to the assumption of a Creator.

    Certainly, if the God described in the creation story exists as described, then creating whole genomes from scratch is pretty much old hat by the time Eve is created. To say that they "must" be clones would be an odd assumption, particularly given the rest of the story. Further, the story details the creation of the first man and woman but at no point is it stated that they were the only humans he created. Some people believe that, perhaps many, but it simply isn't in the traditional story, and interestingly when their sons head out into the world, they meet up with other people, with admittedly could have been the product of incest and lives long enough to consider a couple of centuries to be middle aged, but more reasonably could be taken as more humans created whose creation stories aren't recorded.

    Ancestry is very important to many prophesies and was very important to the religion of the Jews at the time of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve provide a traceable lineage from God's hand and plan all the way to Jesus Christ, but it doesn't exclude the possibility that there were many other people created along the way. Genetics studies actually make the case that all living human beings share the heritage of no more than a few thousand individuals. (Look up the Toba event.)

    None of this proves that God created Adam and Eve first or that the story is true at all, none of it proves that God did anything or that God exists. If you prefer another explanation of the facts, that's certainly something that (IMHO) society should protect as a liberty. I'm absolutely in favour of presenting logical reasons for what you believe, regardless of whether they happen to agree with my own or not. The only reason I'm responding to the parent is to point out that saying "God must have created a clone" is misleadingly simplistic.

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