The classroom rantings of a teacher in a California school district who targeted the South, church, Republicans, Christians, conservatives and Rush Limbaugh have triggered a First Amendment lawsuit, according to Advocates for Faith and Freedom, an advocacy law firm.
The teacher, James Corbett of the Capistrano Unified School District, “spends an extended period of time at the beginning of each class discussing topics that are not only irrelevant to history but also inflammatory and often altogether inappropriate for high school students,” the firm’s announcement said.
“Corbett causes students who hold religious beliefs to feel like second-class citizens because of their protected religious expression, beliefs and conduct.
“He has gone as far as stating, ‘When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth,'” the law firm said.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Chad Farnan, a 16-year-old sophomore honors student at the school who is taking Corbett’s Advanced Placement European History class.
“Corbett has made derogatory remarks about Christian viewpoints regarding homosexuality, Viagra, birth control and sexual activities of teenagers. As a result of Dr. Corbett’s hostility toward Christianity, Mr. Farnan has filed this federal lawsuit for a violation of his First Amendment rights,” the law firm said.
Among the statements made by the teacher:
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 …
You know, you go down to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, all these states that are as red as they could possibly be, as right-wing Republican as you could possibly be. When you first present these people with the economic policies of the Democratic party, they are all Democrats. Virtually all the social programs, they like. They lead the Democratic party on social issues. That’s it. Social issues, can you imagine what they’re saying on Rush Limbaugh now? About, ‘Middle school people in New England giving people birth control pills. My God. What next?’ I love Rush Limbaugh. A fat, pain in the a?liar. And, boy, is he a liar. Unbelievable.”
Corbett could not be reached for comment, and Principal Tom Ressler declined to comment, according to the Orange County Register. A spokeswoman at the district, Beverly de Nicola, told the newspaper the district would “need a little bit of time to look into it and determine our course of action.”
But Robert Tyler, the general counsel for the Advocates, said the teacher’s “blatant disregard for relevant topics of what can and should be discussed in a high school history class goes beyond moral reasoning.”
“Students come to class to learn, not to be forced to listen to the personal, demoralizing rantings of their teacher,” he said.
Jennifer Monk, legal counsel for the Advocates, said students’ constitutional rights are “compromised” each day they attend such a class.
“Corbett’s statements in the classroom – and the district’s continued employment of Dr. Corbett – convey a governmental message that students holding religious beliefs are outsiders and not full members of the community. This hostility towards religion is a violation of the Establishment Clause,” she said.
Monk told WND school district officials had conceded the teacher’s instruction was “provocative.”
“It’s not just provocative. It’s hostile to Christians,” she said. And since the same teacher had been cited in an earlier lawsuit, in the 1990s over issues dealing with religion, the school district already should have dealt with the situation, she said.
The lawsuit in federal court in Santa Ana cites statements by the teacher including: “Conservatives don’t want women to avoid pregnancies – that’s interfering with God’s work.”
Farnan said he was shocked by the statements. “I’ve lost respect for him. I’m offended,” he said.
The filing seeks unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees for the rantings taped by Farnan in his effort to supplement his class notes.
The issue has merit, a constitutional scholar told the newspaper. John Eastman, dean of the school of law at Chapman University, suggested, “Lawsuits like this are important to remind public teachers that the classroom is not their personal soapbox.”
The newspaper also reported another parent, Lynley Rosa, pulled her son out of Corbett’s class this year because of the anti-Christian tone.
“The mockery of religion was a main focus in the classroom, and [I] felt like he wasn’t learning what he should be curriculum-wise, so I pulled him out,” she told the paper.
The newspaper said Corbett has a history of anti-Christian behavior. It cited the 1993 legal action in which he was named as a defendant in a case that focused on the mandatory teaching of evolutionary theory.
“I am an atheist. I agree that such comments have no place in the classroom,” wrote “canyongal” on the paper’s forum. “The government, and those working in a government capacity, are supposed to be completely neutral on the topic of religion (AND on the topic of non-religion).”
Added “midion1,” “I think it’s hilarious that people think preaching in school is completely unacceptable but preaching hatred towrds (sic) another group is accepted. I am not surprised at all, for some reason people think that a religion that focuses on loving everyone is the reason for all the hate in the world. This teacher doesnt (sic) have faith, yet for some reason hate [c]onsumes him.”
And “curlygurl100” wrote that her son also is in the class.
“What i have heard is extremely offensive to anyone including the athiests (sic) who have heard it as well. There have been multiple complaints about the teacher and nothing was done. One of the parents e-mailed the teacher asking him to stop and he put the e-mail up on the projector and answered the e-mail in front of the class and her son while mocking her.”
Among other statements by the teacher cited by the lawsuit:
The Boy Scouts can’t have it both ways. If they want to be an exclusive, Christian organization or an exclusive, God-fearing organization, then they can’t receive any more support from the state, and shouldn’t.”
In the industrialized world the people least likely to go to church are the Swedes. The people in the industrialized world most likely to go to church are the Americans. America has the highest crime rate of all industrialized nations, and Sweden has the lowest. The next time somebody tells you religion is connected with morality, you might want to ask them about that.
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.