ACLU backs student in flap over religion in class


sanctus
#1
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is supporting a high school student who objected when his teacher made religious statements, including allegedly telling students that those who do not believe Jesus died for their sins belong in hell.
The school district penalized the student for secretly taping the teacher, the student's lawyers say.
"I believe it is important to stand up for our constitutional rights and to make sure that these violations of the First Amendment, which apparently have been going on for years, are stopped once and for all," Matthew LaClair, 16, said. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
Starting in September, LaClair complained to school administrators about his history teacher, David Paszkiewicz.
LaClair says Paszkiewicz told students evolution is less fact-based than the Bible, there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, the Big Bang theory of creation is unscientific, and that the Bible has been proven to be literally true.
Knowing he might not be believed, LaClair recorded the teacher's statements and gave the recordings to the principal. After that, school officials declined to further discuss with LaClair or his parents what actions would be taken to correct the problem, the ACLU said.
"Our district fully supports and takes seriously its obligation to ensure that the personal religious beliefs of our professional staff stay out of the classroom," school board president Bernadette McDonald said in a written statement.
She said the school took corrective action once the problem surfaced, but did not give details.
From Paszkiewicz's point of view, he was merely answering a question posed to him in a question-and-answer session, according to Demetrios Stratis, a Fair Lawn lawyer who said he represented the teacher.
"He was asked to give an opinion. He said it was an opinion. And he offered that information," Stratis said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press (external - login to view).
 
RomSpaceKnight
#2
In the states I believe it is illegal to tape a conversation without all involved knowing. Here in Canada only one needs to know.

That said:

Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and render unto God what is God's.

Does this not indicate that a seperation of church and state is proscribed? Not to mention being personally insulted by a teacher and public employee because of a difference in spiritual beliefs. In home or in church this is acceptable but not in a public place of learning. In deference to possibly some students taking offence he should have just politely refused to answer the question.
 
thomaska
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is supporting a high school student who objected when his teacher made religious statements, including allegedly telling students that those who do not believe Jesus died for their sins belong in hell.
The school district penalized the student for secretly taping the teacher, the student's lawyers say.
"I believe it is important to stand up for our constitutional rights and to make sure that these violations of the First Amendment, which apparently have been going on for years, are stopped once and for all," Matthew LaClair, 16, said. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
Starting in September, LaClair complained to school administrators about his history teacher, David Paszkiewicz.
LaClair says Paszkiewicz told students evolution is less fact-based than the Bible, there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, the Big Bang theory of creation is unscientific, and that the Bible has been proven to be literally true.
Knowing he might not be believed, LaClair recorded the teacher's statements and gave the recordings to the principal. After that, school officials declined to further discuss with LaClair or his parents what actions would be taken to correct the problem, the ACLU said.
"Our district fully supports and takes seriously its obligation to ensure that the personal religious beliefs of our professional staff stay out of the...

Quote has been trimmed, See full post: View Post
Well of course the ACLU is against religion of any type.

I mean, they support NAMBLA's right to publish literature on how to safely have sex with 12 year old boys, so what else would you expect from them?
 
sanctus
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnightView Post

In the states I believe it is illegal to tape a conversation without all involved knowing. Here in Canada only one needs to know.

That said:

Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and render unto God what is God's.

Does this not indicate that a seperation of church and state is proscribed? Not to mention being personally insulted by a teacher and public employee because of a difference in spiritual beliefs. In home or in church this is acceptable but not in a public place of learning. In deference to possibly some students taking offence he should have just politely refused to answer the question.

I don't necessarily disagree with your point in principal, but I wonder what the complaint really meant? In other words, have we become so sensitive that one cannot even mention God if one believes in Him without having people file charges against us? By sharing his opinion, did the teacher suggest it was one that needed to be held by the student? I think we are getting too sensitive in some areas these days.
 
Sparrow
#5
What has happened to Freedom of Speech? We criticize countries that crushes free speech but what about our own anti (speech) laws. I agree with anti-racism laws and laws against racist terminology they are necessary. However some people today seem to be just looking for a reason to make trouble for others, as if they want to get some attention, or maybe it is because they feel they have on control of their lives and need to prove to themselves that they can control something. Also it may be self validation that they need and the only way they can get it is by proving they can in some way control what others do and say. What is wrong with voicing your beliefs, even in public, if there is nothing hateful in your works. As far as I can tell this professor did not condem anyones beliefs in particular, he just voiced his opinion.

If that is the case, we would sure all be in deep s***t for what we say here on CC. Imagine how boring and dull it would be and we would learn nothing. Free exchange of ideas and beliefs is how we get to know each other and is so import for personal development and widening of our knowledge.
 
tracy
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

I don't necessarily disagree with your point in principal, but I wonder what the complaint really meant? In other words, have we become so sensitive that one cannot even mention God if one believes in Him without having people file charges against us? By sharing his opinion, did the teacher suggest it was one that needed to be held by the student? I think we are getting too sensitive in some areas these days.

This was a teacher in a public school. There are a lot of things that teachers shouldn't be discussing in class. They don't have the right to absolute freedom of speech in their jobs. None of us do. I can't imagine why anyone would think it would be appropriate for a high school teacher to tell students they would go to hell if they didn't believe in Jesus. I'd say that the threat of eternal damnation is suggesting that the students need to share his belief (unless they like the idea of going to hell of course).

I think the real question here is would you like it if it was another religion? I mean, if a teacher came to class and said only good muslims were going to heaven, would it bother you? It would bother me, so I don't see why the Christian should be allowed to do that.
 
marygaspe
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by tracyView Post

This was a teacher in a public school. There are a lot of things that teachers shouldn't be discussing in class. They don't have the right to absolute freedom of speech in their jobs. None of us do. I can't imagine why anyone would think it would be appropriate for a high school teacher to tell students they would go to hell if they didn't believe in Jesus. I'd say that the threat of eternal damnation is suggesting that the students need to share his belief (unless they like the idea of going to hell of course)..


I think we missed the point. He didn't damn anybody to hell, according to the story. He was asked his beliefs, and he shared them. He apparently made it clear they were his beliefs. Why is that such a big deal? I will bet you all the money you want that had he been Buddhist and shared his beliefs no one would have batted an eyebrow. Like it or not, there is a deliberate and constant persecution against Christianity in Canada and the USA.
 
hermanntrude
#8
it's not right that a teacher should be telling kids that the big bang is a load of codswallop and the bible is literally true, though, surely? Free speech isn't always a good thing in a classroom environment... what if a teacher decided to tell the children that murder is sometimes OK, and that girls are stupider than boys and dogs are easiest to train if you beat them?
 
tracy
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by marygaspeView Post

I think we missed the point. He didn't damn anybody to hell, according to the story. He was asked his beliefs, and he shared them. He apparently made it clear they were his beliefs. Why is that such a big deal? I will bet you all the money you want that had he been Buddhist and shared his beliefs no one would have batted an eyebrow. Like it or not, there is a deliberate and constant persecution against Christianity in Canada and the USA.

I could not disagree with you more. I don't see the persecution Christians face here. The president, congress, the senate, the judiciary, etc. are all controlled mainly by Christians. No group in the country has more power. They make up about 85% of the population. They swing elections, they continue debates on abortion and teaching evolution and birth control, they have television programs, radio programs, churches in every town in the country... If that's what we call persecution, the word has lost all meaning. Christians in China would probably laugh if they heard us.

Telling a man not to share his religious beliefs in class with his students is not persecution, it's common sense. He's a history teacher, not a religious one. It doesn't say he was asked about his beliefs either, it just says he shared them. When you take a job, you don't have the right to say anything you want. You do have to accomodate the fact that there are others who could be offended by your opinions and act accordingly. Freedom of speech doesn't absolve us from using common sense once in a while. Can you imagine me going into work and telling Christians I think their beliefs are stupid or that the church is corrupt and archaic and evil? That could just be my opinion. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be fired in a split second.

Regardless of the circumstances, this teacher told some of his students they belonged in hell (presumably there was at least one student who doesn't believe in Jesus). How can we defend that? How is that even a Christian thing to do? I also notice you didn't answer my question Would you be ok with a muslim teacher telling your children or grandchildren that they deserve to be in hell unless they become muslims? I wouldn't be, so I'm not ok with a Christian doing it either. No hypocracy there.
 
L Gilbert
#10
Well, being a teacher of history, he is a historian of sorts and history is prone to historians' personal interpretations. It would be wrong to be spewing that crap in a science class, but in classes like History, English, Philosophy, etc. Also it would be wrong for the school to allow the idjit in question to use his personal opinion as a basis for curriculum.
 
Zzarchov
#11
Sanctus, would you hold the same view if the situations were reversed?


If the boy had been religious and taped the teacher telling him that the bible was proven to be false and lies, and that people who believed in the bible deserve to be put in a mental institution would you still comment about how sensitive people are?

About how its gotten to the point where the poor teacher is being harrassed for talking about his views?
 
RomSpaceKnight
#12
Telling anyone they belong in hell is not nice. It may be your true opinion but considering he is a public employee and in a workplace, politely refusing to answer would have been the prudent course. Even in my work certain conversations are not appropriate to the workplace. Gov and religion should be seperate and work and personal life should have some space too.

It's difficult to discriminate against a majority. Considering world political situation some backlash against any extremist, fundamentalist or even outspoken ideas is to be expected. If we all sat on our more outspoken opinions sometimes and treated all with the same deference we give to members of our own "race", religion, social circle or whatever the world would be a nicer place.

In the words of the great starship captain James Tiberius Kirk "Why..can't..we..all..just..get..along?"
 
L Gilbert
#13
Cuz some people speak weird.
 
hermanntrude
#14
I think a teacher's personal views inside the classroom are usually irrelavent. There is a curriculum to be taught. However i see nothing wrong with a teacher, when asked about their personal view, being allowed to say "well, this is only my personal view, many others feel otherwise, but...." that's PROVIDING it's not going to be hurtful, racist, etc etc etc.

this teacher was a borderline case by the sound of it. he only expressed his personal views, but he didnt qualify them as such, and they were a little contraversial.
 
marygaspe
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

I think a teacher's personal views inside the classroom are usually irrelavent. There is a curriculum to be taught. However i see nothing wrong with a teacher, when asked about their personal view, being allowed to say "well, this is only my personal view, many others feel otherwise, but...." that's PROVIDING it's not going to be hurtful, racist, etc etc etc.

this teacher was a borderline case by the sound of it. he only expressed his personal views, but he didnt qualify them as such, and they were a little contraversial.

And as such he should be allowed to express a personal view if directly asked, which is all he did.
 
marygaspe
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by tracyView Post

I also notice you didn't answer my question Would you be ok with a muslim teacher telling your children or grandchildren that they deserve to be in hell unless they become muslims? I wouldn't be, so I'm not ok with a Christian doing it either. No hypocracy there.

As long as the teacher stated it was his opinion. I was lucky not to have faced this when my kids went to school. They went to Catholic school so obviously mentioning religion would not have been an issue.My eldest daughter broke the family tradition though. Her kids she sends to a public school, so I am not certain what the rules are about such things there.
Last edited by marygaspe; Feb 22nd, 2007 at 09:18 PM..Reason: spelling
 
darkbeaver
#17
We didn't hear the tape though did we?
 
Zzarchov
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by marygaspeView Post

And as such he should be allowed to express a personal view if directly asked, which is all he did.


Exactly, if asked his personal opinion, by his second helper, the student in class who shares his views..

He should be able to launch into a tirade about white supremacy, who females have no place outside the home , etc etc etc.


No, its not. Your at work and a Job is a Job. If Im working as a wal-mart greeter and someone asks me my beliefs I can't rant and rave how I want.

1.) Thats not my dime, Im being paid for my time, so was the teacher.
2.) While on the employers dime, I can't go against the employers line..If I think someone the employer does is stupid I don't shout it to the customer, I be quiet.
 
hermanntrude
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by marygaspeView Post

And as such he should be allowed to express a personal view if directly asked, which is all he did.

he only expressed his personal views, but he didnt qualify them as such, and they were a little contraversial.

that's what i said.
 
hermanntrude
#20
it would have been on safer ground if he had responded by saying something like "my personal views aren't relavent to this class"
 
Doryman
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by SparrowView Post

What has happened to Freedom of Speech? We criticize countries that crushes free speech but what about our own anti (speech) laws. I agree with anti-racism laws and laws against racist terminology they are necessary. However some people today seem to be just looking for a reason to make trouble for others, as if they want to get some attention, or maybe it is because they feel they have on control of their lives and need to prove to themselves that they can control something. Also it may be self validation that they need and the only way they can get it is by proving they can in some way control what others do and say. What is wrong with voicing your beliefs, even in public, if there is nothing hateful in your works. As far as I can tell this professor did not condem anyones beliefs in particular, he just voiced his opinion.

If that is the case, we would sure all be in deep s***t for what we say here on CC. Imagine how boring and dull it would be and we would learn nothing. Free exchange of ideas and beliefs is how we get to know each other and is so import for personal development and widening of our knowledge.



You're all for freedom of speech unless it's racist? Garbage, Freedom of speech means there is NO limit on someones right to express their thought and opinions, no matter how disgusting you find it.
 
lena
#22
well here is my 4 cents worth

There are too many unanswered questions here. Did the teacher express these oppinions prior for the student to feel he had to tape for people to believe? (Thats what I'm leaning towards). Or was it random? Not sure why a student would do that but ya never know. Is this a first complaint? If this is the first WOW. Anyway thats my rant of the day..its a public school for goodness sake...teach the religion don't preach it...(ick that spelling doesn't look right but its late and i'm tired) tootles
 
westmanguy
#23
ACLU? pff... typical. ACLU is anti-religion, any objective, person, with open eyes can see that.

They are, literally the worst group I have ever seen...ACLU hurts, more then it helps.

What do you say about an org. that represents the National Assembely of the Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), when someone read their literature and raped and killed a young boy, and the literature described how to lure children.

The ACLU has done countless despicable things, and has tarnished their rep. and any rashional person doesn't take them seriously..

ACLU will munipulate, and spin anything in the name of "free speach"... they are anti-religion, they hurt victims, and they are a spin-group that has alterior motives of a secular progressive America.

I have never hated a "pro-people" group so much.
 

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