The establishment clause is often times used to take freedom of religious expression out of public view. It’s also been used to attack Christianity. The whole concept is very murky at best in the modern history of the United States. Before I go into the court case against a teacher in a public school, I wanted to point out a few things about the establishment clause.
Benjamin Franklin once said in 1787, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
On December 15, 1791 the first Amendment was added, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…”
Public schools in the United States up until around the 1950s taught Bible courses. For instance, today we seen a huge battle over science standards in Texas, but back in April 23, 1946 the Texas Board of Education adopted a course which was deemed to be worth one half credit towards graduation for completing a general survey of the Bible.
The establishment clause as we know it, wasn’t made law until 1947 in a case called; Everson v Board of Education and then later in another case in 1962; Engel v Vitale. Seperation of Church and State was disputed prior to 1947 but what was different in those previous cases was the fact that the Court case in 1947 only allowed 8 words from a letter in Thomas Jefferson’s letter. A prior case in the 1800s allowed the entire letter to be submitted for evidence. So in other words the Court in 1947 took Jefferson’s words out of context by isolating certain words and created a wall between government and most religions which previously was unheard of before that time.
This is not to say, I endorse Bible classes to be taught in public schools, on the contrary, because the United States has a very unique and diverse population, more likely than not, the government would teach a doctrine or practice claiming it was biblical but it’s really not. On the other hand, public schools should not be used to attack Christianity which is where the anti-creationist teacher comes into play.
According to this teacher’s view of the establishment clause, it gave him a green light to attack Christianity using his teaching authority in a public school. The New York Times reports…
“A federal judge has ruled that a history teacher at a Southern California public high school violated the First Amendment when he called creationism “superstitious nonsense” in a classroom lecture. The judge, James Selna, issued the ruling after a 16-month legal battle between a student, Chad Farnan, and his former teacher, James Corbett. Mr. Farnan’s lawsuit said Mr. Corbett had made more than 20 statements that were disparaging to Christians and their beliefs.”
“The judge found that Mr. Corbett’s reference to creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Courts have interpreted the clause as prohibiting government employees from displaying religious hostility. Mr. Corbett teaches at Capistrano Valley High School.”
Now here comes the murky part, while the court rules a federal employee cannot display open hostility to his or her students but yet he or she is able to teach a concept like evolution telling their students it’s “true” than just an hypothesis since a court ruling (Epperson v. State of Ark) in 1968 which is hostile towards Christianity. Evolution is not neutral by any means. It’s a worldly viewpoint that tries to replace God. By definition, this would be considered a violation of the establishment clause as well.