Bearing false witness
Here we go again. Another piece of legal theater contrived by the Alliance Legal Defense Fund and aided and abetted by a credulous reporter.
By Dan Whitcomb
Wed Nov 24, 2004 04:12 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence.
Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, sued for discrimination on Monday, claiming he had been singled out for censorship by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian.
"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."
Vidmar could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in San Jose and claims violations of Williams rights to free speech under the First Amendment.
Phyllis Vogel, assistant superintendent for Cupertino Unified School District, said the lawsuit had been forwarded to a staff attorney. She declined to comment further.
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."
"He hands out a lot of material and perhaps 5 to 10 percent refers to God and Christianity because that's what the founders wrote," said Thompson, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, which advocates for religious freedom. "The principal seems to be systematically censoring material that refers to Christianity and it is pure discrimination."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a California atheist who wanted the words "under God" struck from the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by school children. The appeals court in California had found that the phrase amounted to a violation of church and state separation.
What kind of headline is "Declaration of Independence Banned?" The article says the guy was fired for distributing leaflets containing excerpts from the Declaration and other historical documents. Of course, we have no idea what else he was putting in those leaflets or even whether he was fired for distributing them. Suddenly we go from "Guy claims to have been fired for distributing excerpts of the Declaration of Independence and some other stuff (employers unable to comment)" to "Declaration banned in California."
Dave Johnson has a comprehensive roundup of news and commentary on the lawsuit at Seeing the Forest. Check it out. In addition to a bracing rant, he has links to an ADF press release, additional news coverage, and reactions from at least 20 liberal bloggers. Dave writes:
The school did not "ban the Declaration of Independence" -- that is just a lie. This story is like when you hear that a man was "arrested for praying" and you find out he was kneeling in the middle of a busy intersection at rush hour and refused to move.
This is the BIG STORY today, on Rush, and Drudge, and the rest of the Usual Suspects. And it is a carefully planned and carefully timed lie. [Emphasis Dave's]
See also Disinfopeida's entry on The Alliance Defense Fund, aka "The Anti-ACLU."