Wednesday, 6 May 2009

US teenager successfully sued teacher who criticised creationism

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The Guardian reports that Christian teenager from California has won a court case against a high school teacher who referred to creationism as "superstitious nonsense". Chad Farnan, a student at Capistrano Valley high school, alleged that his former European history teacher James Corbett had made a series of comments that were "derogatory, disparaging and belittling regarding religion and Christianity in particular". In the end only the comment in which Corbett expressed his "unequivocal belief that creationism is superstitious nonsense"

In his 37-page ruling, Judge James Selma found that this comment violated the establishment clause of the first amendment of the US constitution, which is widely seen as preventing both the promotion of, and expression of hostility towards, religion among government employees. Selma ruled that Corbett's comment amounted to "improper disapproval of religion in violation of the establishment clause".

The judge stressed that his ruling also implied that promotion of religion is forbidden in schools, ensuring that education could function "free of the strictures of any particular religious or philosophical belief system".

Update: As one reader kindly pointed out, the teenager, Chad Farnan, has his own website on which he is proclaiming his victory over his teacher. Have a look - oh dear.


mikespeir said...

Supposing we've got the whole story, I think I agree with this judgment. Government shouldn't be in the religion business. While we shouldn't promote religion on the public tab, we also shouldn't be denigrating it.

Tom Rees said...

It's the flip side of barring creationism from science class on the grounds that it's religion, not science.

Can't have teachers going round saying that religion is superstitious nonsense. Society would collapse!

Anonymous said...

What is a little daft is that the student is sueing the teacher. I accept that a student was offended by the teachers comment (despite being correct), as I would hope the student would accept some of his opinions may be offensive to those who do not believe if he aired them. But shouldn't this have been dealt with at the school administration board level and not a law court? How did this get so out of hand?

Anonymous said...

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Oh boy, are we in trouble.

Lemniscate said...

One wonders, however, how many anti-atheist/anti-evolution statements by teachers slip by without a lawsuit.

Izgad said...

Can we acknowledge that is impossible to have government run education without violating the first amendment? If teachers are going to teach they are going to have to express opinions about things like science, religion and evolution. How can anyone call themselves a true liberal and hand education over to the government? A free society needs opinion to be outside of government control and influence.