Loading
Judge rules irreligious public school teacher violated First Amendment

.- A federal judge has ruled that a California public high school teacher who made denigrating remarks about religion and Christianity violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment when he called creationism “superstitious nonsense.”

James Corbett, an Advanced Placement European history teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, was also accused of saying “when you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth.” He allegedly compared prayers for divine intervention to hopes that the “spaghetti monster” will “help you get what you want.” Corbett, who has taught for 20 years, also said “Conservatives don't want women to avoid pregnancies — that's interfering with God's work.”

However, U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled that only Corbett’s comment calling creationism “religious, superstitious nonsense” violated the constitutional rights of former student Chad Farnan.

According to Corbett’s attorney Dan Spradlin, the remark about creationism came 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 said Corbett expressed his own opinion that the former teacher shouldn’t have presented his religious views to students, the Associated Press reports.

Student Chad Farnan filed suit in 2007 alleging that Corbett violated the First Amendment by repeatedly making comments hostile to Christian beliefs. Farnan’s lawsuit presented more than 20 statements reportedly made by Corbett during one day of class to support allegations that the teacher used a broader teaching method that “favors irreligion over religion” and made Christian students feel uncomfortable.

Judge Selna found that most of the statements cited did not violate the First Amendment because they did not refer directly to religion or were appropriate in the context of the classroom lecture.

On May 1 the judge ruled that Dr. Corbett’s statement about creationism “constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

He said the ruling reflects “the constitutionally permissible need for expansive discussion even if a given topic may be offensive to a particular religion” but also reflects “that there are boundaries.”

“The ruling today protects Farnan, but also protects teachers like Corbett in carrying out their teaching duties,” Judge Selna said.

Farnan’s attorney, Jennifer Monk of the Murrieta-based Christian legal group Advocates for Faith & Freedom, said her client is not interested in monetary damages. However, he plans to ask the court to prohibit Corbett from making similar comments in the future.

Monk added that the student’s family would like to see the school district offer teacher training and monitor Corbett’s classroom for future violations.

She said there were no plans to appeal the judge’s rulings on the other statements cited in the lawsuit.

"They lost, he violated the establishment clause," Monk told the Associated Press. "From our perspective, whether he violated it with one statement or with 19 statements is irrelevant."


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
25

Liturgical Calendar

April 25, 2014

Friday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 21:1-14

Gospel
Date
04/25/14
04/24/14
04/23/14

Daily Readings


Saint of the Day

St. Mark, the Evangelist »

Saint
Date
04/24/14

Homily of the Day

Jn 21:1-14

Homily
Date
04/25/14
04/24/14
04/23/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: