While teaching a High School European History class, James Corbett strayed into a discussion of religion and made several statements that clearly denigrated religion and religious practices.
According to WorldMag.com, Corbett “told his AP European history class that creationism was ‘superstitious nonsense.’ He also told them, ‘When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth’ and he taught a correlation between high religious attendance and high crime in America.”
This kind of speech by a teacher in a highschool classroom is, at least in my opinion, certainly inappropriate: it is pure opinion and speculation on the teachers part in a class that is supposed to be focused on fact (remember this is a European History class) not the teacher’s personal feelings about facts, circumstances or outcomes.
One student, Chad Farnan, certainly thought that Mr. Corbett had crossed a line and he did something about it; he sued his teacher and claimed in that lawsuit that by making these kind of comments his teacher was violating the establishment clause of the Constitution.
Last Friday, a little less than two years after the original lawsuit was filed, U.S. District Judge James Selna, after studying the list of 20 statements that Farnan had included in his suit, agree that one of the 20 statements (calling creationism “superstitious nonsense”) was indeed a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” THAT is the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Over the years this simple statement has been twisted, interpreted to death and generally corrupted by Federal Judge after Federal Judge until now, as is apparent by this story, a private citizen can violate the establishment clause by spewing anti-religious rhetoric.
This teacher needs to be retrained, no doubt about that! He is a 20 year veteran of teaching and should know better or should have long ago been “called on the carpet” for straying from fact into his opinion of religion or anything else. Students are in school to learn and not only will students learn nothing from a teacher’s personal opinion, some students may take those opinions as fact.
James Corbett may be a very bad teacher or he may have just gotten off on a rant and lost control — don’t know. But how about U.S. District Judge James Selna? What is his excuse for coming up with the ridiculous opinion that a high school teacher can violate a clause of the Constitution that applies ONLY to the U.S. Congress!
Associated Press: ‘Superstitious nonsense’ remark violated rights
WorldMag.com: CA court condemns “improper disapproval of religion”
The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Corbett Loses “Superstitious Nonsense” Trial