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  #1  
Old 05-05-2009, 11:14 AM
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More BS. This time in the classroom.

Student Wins Suit After Teacher Says Creationism 'Superstitious Nonsense'

Monday, May 04, 2009

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SANTA ANA, Calif. A federal judge ruled that a public high school history teacher violated the First Amendment when he called creationism "superstitious nonsense" during a classroom lecture.

U.S. District Judge James Selna issued the ruling Friday after a 16-month legal battle between student Chad Farnan and his former teacher, James Corbett.

Farnan sued in U.S. District Court in 2007, alleging that Corbett violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment by making repeated comments in class that were hostile to Christian beliefs.

The lawsuit cited more than 20 statements made by Corbett during one day of class, all of which were recorded by Farnan, to support allegations of a broader teaching method that "favors irreligion over religion" and made Christian students feel uncomfortable.

During the course of the litigation, the judge found that most of the statements cited in the court papers did not violate the First Amendment because they did not refer directly to religion or were appropriate in the context of the classroom lecture.

But Selna ruled Friday that one comment, where Corbett referred to creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense," did violate Farnan's constitutional rights.

Farnan is not interested in monetary damages, said his attorney, Jennifer Monk of the Murrieta-based Christian legal group Advocates for Faith & Freedom.

Instead, he plans to ask the court to prohibit Corbett from making similar comments in the future. Farnan's family would also like to see the school district offer teacher training and monitor Corbett's classroom for future violations, Monk said.

There are no plans to appeal the judge's rulings on the other statements listed in the litigation, she said.

"They lost, he violated the establishment clause," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "From our perspective, whether he violated it with one statement or with 19 statements is irrelevant."

In making his decision, Selna wrote that he tried to balance Farnan's and Corbett's rights.

"The court's ruling today reflects the constitutionally permissible need for expansive discussion even if a given topic may be offensive to a particular religion," the judge wrote.

"The decision also reflects that there are boundaries. ... The ruling today protects Farnan, but also protects teachers like Corbett in carrying out their teaching duties."

Corbett, a 20-year teaching veteran, remains at Capistrano Valley High School.

Farnan is now a junior at the school, but quit Corbett's Advanced Placement European history class after his teacher made the comments.

The establishment clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from making any law establishing religion. The clause has been interpreted by U.S. courts to also prohibit government employees from displaying religious hostility.

Selna said that although Corbett was only found to have violated the establishment clause in a single instance, he could not excuse or overlook the behavior.

In a ruling last month, the judge dismissed all but two of the statements Farnan complained about, including Corbett's comment that "when you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth."

Also dismissed in April were comments such as, "Conservatives don't want women to avoid pregnancies that's interfering with God's work" and "When you pray for divine intervention, you're hoping that the spaghetti monster will help you get what you want."

On Friday, Selna also dismissed one of the two remaining statements, saying that Corbett may have been attempting to quote Mark Twain when he said religion was "invented when the first con man met the first fool."

Corbett has declined to comment throughout the litigation. His attorney, Dan Spradlin, did not immediately return a message left Monday by The Associated Press.

Spradlin has said, however, that Corbett made the remark about creationism during a classroom discussion about a 1993 case in which a former Capistrano Valley High science teacher sued the school district because it required instruction in evolution.

Spradlin has said Corbett was simply expressing his own opinion that the former teacher shouldn't have presented his religious views to students.

Farnan's family released a statement Friday calling the judge's ruling a vindication of the teen's constitutional rights.

The Capistrano Unified School District, which paid for Corbett's attorney, was found not liable for Corbett's classroom conduct.
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2009, 11:28 AM
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just what we need more whiny students...
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:35 AM
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Creationism is superstitous non-sense. So sue me.

I doubt this will stand on appeal. I can find no right in the Bill of Rights called "the right to not be offended by another's ideas".
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:36 AM
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It looks like from the post that the teacher was making inappropriate comments about religion in his class. There was nobody forcing him to make those statements about religion. He should just teach his subject matter and leave the comments to himself.

It is funny because most of these suits are based the other way...

We should all learn to keep our religion to ourselves...
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:40 AM
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alittle hard to do if your teaching about religion....If the kid feels so strongly about it then maybe he should go to a chirstian college...
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyRoger View Post
Creationism is superstitous non-sense. So sue me.

I doubt this will stand on appeal. I can find no right in the Bill of Rights called "the right to not be offended by another's ideas".
But did you look under "Politically Correct"?
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:25 PM
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Being a teacher...a science teacher that teaches earth history and the Big Bang I have thought quite often about the debate of religion vs science and how to handle it in a public school classroom.

Personally I have never had an issue with a student or more importantly the student's parents.

When ever we are studying a topic that is a bit of a heated topic for some religious groups I always preface it by stating that it is a student's job as a learner in life to take in all the information, all the viewpoints from as many aspects as possible and form their own ideas on how everything fits together and works. This would include how you personally see science and religion fitting together. Just because one person tells you something does not make it true, including myself. But, we are in science class right now and therefor we will be learning about science topics. __BLANK__ is a major topic in this area of science so we will be studying it.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Graplr View Post
Personally I have never had an issue with a student or more importantly the student's parents.
Lucky you. Maybe location has something to do with it. The medieval peasant mindset seems way more prevalent here in AZ. My wife is a science teacher and while she's never had problems to the extent that the teacher in this suit has she's often had to deal with church intrusion into her class. Way more than I'd deem acceptable.

- Peter.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:33 PM
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Isn't the teacher entitled to their own opinion as well?
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:34 PM
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Yes. One should listen to ideas and make their own decisions. Perhaps its a good thing to keep religion and schools separate, but I cant help feel that a lack of God in classrooms today is bad thing. Just my opinion, please dont sue me.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:37 PM
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What a waste of the court's time and resources. I don't understand why Christians get so threatened by non-Christians. If their faith is so strong, it shouldn't even phase them.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
What a waste of the court's time and resources. I don't understand why Christians get so threatened by non-Christians. If their faith is so strong, it shouldn't even phase them.
It isn't their faith. This undermines the conversion of others into their faith,
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:39 PM
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Science and religion are not mortal enemies people trying to use science to disprove God or vice versa are the problem. Still don't understand the big deal with evolution. No where in Darwin's orignal book was he saying God didn't exist or anything of the sort. But my .02 cents worth.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
What a waste of the court's time and resources. I don't understand why Christians get so threatened by non-Christians. If their faith is so strong, it shouldn't even phase them.
thank you.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:47 PM
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Science and religion are not mortal enemies people trying to use science to disprove God or vice versa are the problem. Still don't understand the big deal with evolution. No where in Darwin's orignal book was he saying God didn't exist or anything of the sort. But my .02 cents worth.
A little water down here and little water down there and soon you have a problem with the flock. Remember the flock is not supposed to question religion. I mean, you can question it but sooner or later, you get to the point of whether you will accept what is said or not.
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