Back in 2009, Chad Farnan was a sophomore at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, California. One of his classes was Advanced Placement European History which was taught by James Corbett.
Nearly every day in class, Corbett, who had taught at the school for the past 20 years, would ridicule and harass Farnan about his Christian and creationist views. One of the statements made by Corbett in the classroom in front of Farnan’s fellow students was,
“When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”
After repeated verbal abuse in front of his classmates, Farnan filed suit against the teacher in December 2007. He accused the teacher of promoting hostility to Christians in the classroom and in promoting ‘irreligion over religion’ which is a violation of the First Amendment.
In the original trial, the judge found Corbett guilty of violating the First Amendment by denigrating Farnan’s Christian faith while in the classroom. US District Court Judge James Selna said,
“Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense.’ The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”
The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the most liberal court in the entire US. In keeping with their liberal history, the Ninth Circuit Court overturned the District Court’s ruling declaring that the teacher had a qualified immunity since there was no precedent of any case where a teacher had been held liable for anti-religious statements and those statements been ruled to be unconstitutional.
The case then appealed to the US Supreme Court in hopes that they would make a precedent setting ruling to defend the religious rights of students in public schools. This past week, the US Supreme Court announced that they will not hear the case, thus making the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling will stand as the final decision.
A precedent in this case has been set, but not the one hoped for. The precedent that was set allows teachers to verbally abuse, ridicule and harass the religious beliefs of any student and they can do so in the classroom in front of other students.
Yet on the opposite side of the issue, courts have upheld restrictions placed on students expressing their religious views in the classroom. They are not allowed to defend their beliefs but are now forced to sit and take the abuse from the faculty.
Freedom of speech and religion now only applies to anti-Christians and Muslims, but not for Christians.