Statements exhibiting some hostility to religion do not violate the Establishment Clause

A three-judge panel of the much-overturned 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California has dismissed a student’s case against a high school teacher who ridiculed his Christian faith in class.

The opinion Friday authored by Judge Ray C. Fisher declared statements “exhibiting some hostility to religion do not violate the Establishment Clause if the government conduct at issue has a secular purpose, does not have as its principal or primary effect inhibiting religion and does not foster excessive government engagement with religion.”

Chad Farnan brought the case in 2007 against history teacher James Corbett of Capistrano Valley High School  in Mission Viejo, Calif., citing at least 22 comments by Corbett considered “derogatory, disparaging, and belittling regarding religion and Christianity in particular.”

Fisher was joined in his opinion by judges A. Wallace Tashima and Mark L. Wolf.

In the complaint, Farnan says Corbett told his class:

  • “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”
  • “Aristotle was a physicist. … He argued that there sort of has to be a God. Of course that’s nonsense.”
  • “How do you get the peasants to oppose something that is in their best interest? Religion. You have to have something that is irrational to counter that rational approach.”
  • “People believed before the scientific revolution that the Bible was literal and that anything that happened, God did it. They didn’t understand.”
  • “The people who want to make the argument that God did it, there is as much evidence that God did it as there is that there is a giant spaghetti monster living behind the moon … .”
  • “What part of the country has the highest murder rate? The South. What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South. What part of the country has the highest … church attendance? The South. Oh, wait a minute. You mean there is not a correlation between these things?”
  • “Well, we know abstinence doesn’t work. And we know one other thing, and that is, once people become sexually active, they often don’t stop for, like, 40 or 50 years. I mean, generally, when you start you don’t, like, have a conversion and try to become re-virginized, you know. It’s not going to happen.”

 

 

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