Drew Zahn writes, “A federal judge in California has handed down a scathing ruling against a school that required one of its teachers to remove signs celebrating the role of God in American history from his classroom walls.” It seems that for more than 17 years, math teacher Bradley Johnson had banners hanging in his classroom with phrases such as “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America” and “God Shed His Grace on Thee.”
Another offending banner came directly from the Declaration of Independence: “All Men Are Created Equal. They Are Endowed by Their Creator.” Radical, radical. Evidently the concept of the equality of all people, when it comes from the Declaration of Independence, is not allowable, at least if that part of the Declaration so tackily mentions God. (Oh, those insensitive 18th-century Deists!)
This was in Westview High School in San Diego, and the school’s principal ordered that the banners be torn down during the 2007 school year. I mean, the MESSAGE on those banners! How subversive of the American Way can you get!
Johnson sued, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights, and Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled in his favor. Benitez writes, “May a school district censor a high school teacher’s expression because it refers to Judeo-Christian views, while allowing other teachers to express views on a number of controversial subjects, including religion and anti-religion . . . ? On undisputed evidence, this court holds that it may not . . . . It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”
Judge Benitez reprimanded the school, pointing out that while teachers in the district “encourage students to celebrate diversity and value thinking for one’s self, [they] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture.”
The gross hypocrisy of the school in this case grows out of the fact that its teachers are permitted to hang Buddhist, Islamic and Tibetan prayer messages on their classroom walls. Wasn’t it in San Diego where an elementary school teacher ordered her pupils to write prayers to the Aztec god Chac Mool, and then took them to his statue in a park so they could offer them to him? In today’s ideology, one supposes, Aztec religion, with its gruesome human sacrifices, was innocuous, while the biblical faith is dangerous to children and other living things.
Let’s get serious, folks! This matter of celebrating the kind of “diversity” that allows anything but Judeo-Christian expression has gone on far too long. Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center (remember that More had his head chopped off for daring to be a Catholic opponent of the king’s multiple marriages?), commented, “Hopefully, Judge Benitez’s decision will help put an end to this double standard. It is the responsibility of our public schools to educate students on the crucial role Christianity played in our nation’s founding.”
Benitez’s response to the school district’s claim that Johnson’s patriotic banners might make a Muslim student, for example, uncomfortable was, “An imaginary Muslim student is not entitled to a heckler’s veto on a teacher’s passive, popular or unpopular expression about God’s place in the history of the United States.”
In a day when some major universities have attempted, with mixed success, to remove InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other Christian groups from their campuses, even while providing prayer rooms for Muslim students, this is a breath of fresh air, and Judge Benitez deserves a great deal of credit for not only making a common-sense ruling but showing courage in doing so.