Reuters reports that Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in Cupertino, California, has been barred from giving students historical American documents that refer to God, including the Declaration of Independence.
Williams, sued for discrimination on Monday, claiming he had been singled out for censorship by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian and alleging his rights to free speech:
"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.
"Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country," he said. "There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."
According to Reuters, Williams asserts in the lawsuit that since May he has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to Vidmar for approval, and that the principal will not permit him to use any that contain references to God or Christianity:
Among the materials she has rejected, according to Williams, are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."
What is so hard about this? The constitution provides for freedom "of" religion, not freedom "from" religion. How could anyone, let alone an educator, accept the looney idea that there is anything wrong with providing students with a copy of one of the most important American historical documents. It scares me to death that the people allowed to supervise the education of our children could be so dense.
UPDATE: Thursday the Oakland Tribune reported on this story and included comments from Williams:
"I've never even tried to hint the kids need to believe this or this is the right religion to believe," Williams told the Oakland Tribune on Wednesday. "I'm just trying to teach history."
[. . .]
Williams said he thinks society has become hypersensitive to any reference of Christianity in the public arena, especially schools. He said he has taught students about Ramadan and Kwanzaa and been applauded for those lessons.
People are like, Oh good, that's diversity,' he said. As soon as Christianity is involved, it's separation of church and state.
[. . .]
Williams said he wants to bring attention to how sensitive society has become to religious references, even when it comes to American history.
He added he has only respect for Vidmar and the staff at Stevens Creek.
I really feel blessed to be there, he added.
Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson of the Alliance Defense Fund, said:
It is a matter of history that the founders were "men of deep religious faith," Thompson said. "To hide this fact from young fifth-grade students is shameful and outrageous. We're not founded by the Boston agnostic club."
This story struck a nerve in the blogosphere.
At Power Line, Hindrocket posts that the Trunk has been saying for a while that it is only a matter of time until the Constitution is held to be unconstitutional.
At Wizbang, Kevin Aylward posts that now that they've banned all the holidays, they're on to the history books.
At Blogs for Bush, Matt Margolis posts that Our Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves.
At Young Pundit, Willis posts that this has nothing to do with "separation of church and state," it's blatant anti-Christian bias.
At Truth, Lies & Common Sense, Walt Anthony posts that every culture in this land is sacred and deserves the utmost respect except for the culture we all share that enabled this great land to be formed.
The Cassandra Page ties this story to a post about Islamic methods for spreading their religion in American public schools. "Leading children to the slaughter" is an interesting post.
At The Education Wonks, Ed posts that this may be one of the worst examples of Political Correctism Run Amok in recent years. Ed's post also stated he would like to withhold judgment until we get a chance to personally speak with school representatives and get their side of the story. Ed will need a lot of luck in that effort because according to the Tribune, District officials would not comment on the lawsuit, saying only they received it and referred it to their attorneys.
At Caerdroia, Jeff posts this would make teaching American History a little difficult
At Right Thinking from the Left Coast, Lee posts that fundamentalist secularism is just as big an evil as fundamentalist Islam.
At Ramblings' Journal, Michael King posts the very audacity to eliminate the Declaration of Independance from a school curriculum is unconscionable.
At In Search Of Utopia, David wonders where our country is going.
Woody's Woundup posts that education administrators live in mortal fear of not being considered "politically correct."
Who Tends the Fires wonders are we just going to erase our entire history and go about in "blissful" ignorance?
At rightpundit, Gary posts that unfortunately lawsuits have become the only way for conscientious teachers and parents to force school administrators to actually teach history the way it happened instead of some version sanitized of all references to the religious beliefs of historical figures
Flopping Aces posts that banning important parts of our history to schoolchildren just makes his blood boil.
UPDATE II: A number of blogs have linked to Smoking Gun for a copy of the complaint filed on behalf of Williams and staring the law suit. The smoking gun only has the first 8 pages of the complaint. The entire 16 page complaint is available (as a PDF) here.
UPDATE III: At Power Line, Big Trunk posts that Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund has written them advising:
We have checked out the facts that we alleged in the complaint, and I believe them to be true. Of course, the School District has not responded yet with its side of the story. But from my direct investigation, this does seem like a situation where a school official thinks that a serious Christian teacher cannot be trusted to use "religious" materials in the classroom in a professional and Constitutional way.
[. . .]
As you know, the Supreme Court has ruled that religious materials can be used in public schools to teach history, literature, etc. What a deficient education students receive if school officials buckle under to pressure from secular activists to pluck public institutions bare of any mention of God. The Establishment Clause is no mandate for a search and destroy mission against all things religious.
Lorence is scheduled to appear on Hannity and Colmes Monday night to talk about the Declaration of Independence case.