"The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty." ~ Justice William O. Douglas
Judge Attacks First Amendment
Exclusive to STR
May 5, 2009
God-given reason and the Bill of Rights have just taken a beating from a federal judge. The judge, James Selna, ruled that when history teacher of 20 years James Corbett referred to the Bible teaching of creation as "religious, superstitious nonsense" that he violated the First Amendment by attacking Christianity.
The First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Nowhere in the First Amendment does it state that a public employee cannot be critical of religion. Especially a teacher! That's all Mr. Corbett was doing. He was not "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion, he was simply stating that the story of creation in the Bible is superstitious nonsense. What the judge is doing is prohibiting freedom of speech for public school teachers and narrowing the scope of ideas that students can learn about.
The student who was offended by Mr. Corbett, Chad Farnan, used the Christian legal group Advocates For Faith & Freedom to sue his teacher and his school. This is a group of Christian lawyers who falsely, yet, strongly, believe that "America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles." I guess they've never read either the Declaration of Independence which only refers to God in Deistic terms referring to "Nature's God", not the Bible god, or the U.S. Constitution which doesn't refer to God at all. And since these "lawyers" probably haven't read either of these two key documents, I'm certain they're not aware of the Treaty of Tripoli, which plainly and clearly states in Article XI, "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion . . . . " The Treaty of Tripoli was started in the administration of George Washington and ratified in the administration of John Adams.
Judge Selna wrote in his ruling that "Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is 'superstitious nonsense.' The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context. The statement therefore constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause." As an educated person, Selna should immediately recognize that there is great "secular purpose" in Mr. Corbett's statement. The purpose of education should be to teach critical thinking. The Bible story of creation is, on its face, superstitious nonsense! For example, how could there be days and light before the Sun existed? This Bible story in itself provides many examples of superstitious nonsense. What a great teaching exercise it would be in critical thinking to have a class dissect just this one Bible myth!
As is the case in libel and slander actions, shouldn't truth be considered when looking at what teachers teach their students? For a teacher to be legally required to refrain from pointing out an obvious absurdity of a religion simply because it is a religion that is making the unreasonable claim is wrong. Should teachers be required to pretend that the Bible promise at Matthew 21:22 of getting anything you ask for in a prayer is true? At Leviticus 20:9, the Bible teaches that children who curse their parents should be stoned to death. Is it wrong for a teacher to say that that is a terrible idea and a dangerous teaching? Or should she or he let their class think that by their silence they are giving their approval?
c4">Robert Johnson is a paralegal and a freelance writer in Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists and in 1996 he launched the first web site devoted to Deism, www.deism.com. He is listed in Who's Who in Hell and is the author of Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You.
Judge Attacks First Amendment