Thursday, September 15, 2011

God + Math Class = No Banners

Bradley Johnson teaches math at Westview High School, part of the Poway Unified School District in San Diego, though he did teach at another school for twenty-some years before coming to Westview. And, he displayed some banners at his old school, but when he began teaching at Westview, he was told the banners must come down.

Banners? Really? Um, what were they, you might ask. A banner for the Pythagorean Theorem? No? Maybe some Calculus? Wrong again.

No, Bradley Johnson, math teacher, had displayed banners referring to God, in his math class: "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," "God Bless America," and "God Shed His Grace On Thee". Another one said, "All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their CREATOR." 


And Principal Dawn Kastner said the banners were "a promotion of a particular viewpoint" and ordered Johnson to take them down, you know, because of a little thing I like to call Separation of Church and Sate, or Why Are You Talking God in A Math Class in a Public School?

The Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit on Johnson's behalf, and a February decision by California Federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez said the school district violated Johnson's constitutional rights. That ruling has been overturned, and the banners must come down.

Bradley Johnson argued that school officials discriminated against Christians by forcing him to remove the banners, noting that other teachers were allowed to hang Tibetan prayer flags or lyrics to a John Lennon song that references heaven, hell and religion.

Um, I know some folks may disagree, but John Lennon isn't god. And Johnson didn't indicate what classes had the Tibetan prayer flags. I'm guessing, though, they weren't math classes.

In denying his appeal, the court said that Johnson's role as a state-employed math teacher was to do as his job title conveys, i.e. teach math, not to "use his public position as a pulpit from which to preach his own views on the role of God in our nation's history to the captive students in his mathematics classroom."

All well and good, I say.

The public schools are not made to preach the word of god, or the teachings of god. For that, we have these things called churches. And, unless the church also has a school, I don't think they teach math.

Judge Richard Tallman of the appeals court wrote in the ruling that while Johnson can make his views known on the nation's religious history beyond the schoolyard, it is not appropriate for him to do so in the classroom.

In the math classroom.
Of a public school.
Where not everyone is religious or Christian.

Teach effin' math, and praise god on your own time, in your own way, and not on the payroll of the state.


Cubby said...

Indoctrinate much?

froggy said...

In my day the banner in the math classroom should have read:
Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Stephen said...

Amen, Sister!

Anonymous said...

Another great post! The Thomas More Law Center is notorious for cases like this. They knew they were going to lose when they took that man’s money. The schools is not discriminating against Christians … they are obeying the law … which is something that this teacher is not doing.

Beth said...

Read this on Hemant's blog today. Victory!

Hey, I haven't been keeping up well on blogs...did you happen to see the stuff about the city of South Bend vs Americans United for the Separation of Church and State?

Wonder Man said...

Good one, Bob. What is really happening here? Math Class?