Teacher pushes religious views; students sue

Filed under: Teens, Alcohol & Drugs, Day Care & Education

James Corbett, a social science teacher in Mission Viejo, California, has been accused of pushing his religious views on students instead of teaching, according to a lawsuit filed in a federal court earlier this week. If the allegations are accurate, then Corbett did indeed cross the line and improperly foisted his beliefs on his students.

It was just about this time last year when I covered another, similar story about a teacher using his classroom as a pulpit. As I said then, "when he sets foot in a public school classroom, he is an employee and representative of the government and has to keep those beliefs to himself."

Sophomore Chad Farnan had to take Corbett's class in order to get into college, but didn't like the proselytizing he had to endure. "He's been indoctrinating us and not teaching the class; we don't need to be hearing his political views during school time when we should be learning," said Farnan. He brought a tape recorder to school and, for two months, taped the lectures with the recorder in plain sight on his backpack. He and his family filed suit because they believed that Corbett had violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"The teacher is a representative of the state and the Constitution requires government neutrality toward religion," said Jennifer Monk, the family's lawyer. "This teacher's conduct and words clearly show he is hostile toward religion and is indoctrinating these kids, who are a captive audience."

If my kids' teachers started preaching any belief set -- even one I agree with -- I'd get pretty upset. What my kids believe is my business, not their school's or their teacher's. If what the Farnan family claims is indeed true, then they have my total support.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.