The story started in 2007 when a San Diego high school math teacher was informed that his god promoting banners had to be taken down. It being America, Bradley Johnson took the Poway Unified School District to court over this. It being America, the federal judge finally sided with Johnson and gave him the right to push his religion in a public school.
The banners are about 7 feet wide and 2 feet tall. One has the phrases “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America” and “God Sheds His Grace On thee.”
A second reads “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their Creator,” with the last word in uppercase letters.
The district said it had to come down on Johnson because the banners advocated a Judeo-Christian point of view that was not in sync with the nonreligious mission of public schools.
Benitez said the district allows other teachers to post things on a variety or religious and nonreligious topics without penalty.
He said the action against Johnson amounted to discriminating against a particular point of view, which courts have long said is not permitted.
According to a 2008 article from the L.A. Times, the district had tried to get the lawsuit dismissed but Judge Roger Benitez wanted his day in court as much as Johnson did.
In a blistering 23-page decision, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez rejected the district’s motion as legally faulty and blasted its “brash” attempt to take down the banners. The jurist noted that the district allowed other teachers to put up posters with Buddhist and Islamic messages, posters of rock bands including Nirvana and the Clash, and Tibetan prayer rugs.
Johnson’s banners, Benitez wrote, were patriotic expressions deeply rooted in American history.
“By squelching only Johnson’s patriotic expression, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit such one-sided censorship,” Benitez wrote in a ruling issued last week.
But, as Jack M. Sleeth Jr., the district’s district attorney, pointed out, “It’s not as simple as the teacher loves the Lord and we tried to stop him. He was hired to teach mathematics. What do these banners have to do with mathematics?”
Fuck all. That’s the answer. Be religious if you want. Be patriotic if you want. But on the job, do the job. If it is not your job to be pushing your religion or your patriotism, then don’t do it while you’re working. Having enormous banners around to do it for you is stupid. As to the other teachers displaying religious/cultural decoration, maybe their stuff isn’t so damned hard on the eyes and maybe the teachers themselves aren’t so obviously pushing a religious agenda at the same time.
It’s a stupid ruling and I feel sorry for anyone who’s uncomfortable in that room but can’t switch math teachers.
March 3/2010 — Friendly Atheist has pictures of the hideous banners. Yikes, is all there is to say about that.
whaaat? okay now, this ruling is just asinine. where does that judge think we are? last time i checked, this country was not a theocracy. religion is now encroaching upon public schools. this is worth following. i wonder if there are any protests from parents. what a surprise, they weren’t told it was a religious and denominational school. if the teacher wanted to push religion, he should be teaching religion in christian cult school. let him do his attempts at brainwashing children there.
m, this would be a good incendiary cross-post for adkob. if you’d rather not, can i link to it?
nah, I can do it..easy peasy