The folks at eRiposte have a running website devoted to this topic. It includes some of this teacher's assignments--and the context which he omitted.
Excerpt (see site for links to sources):
2.2 Is/Was Principal Widmar against the mention of God in the classroom?
Clearly not. Even the Plaintiffs state the following in page 6 of the lawsuit (on their website):
"39. Other teachers are permitted to show films and distribute handouts containing references to God.
56. Mr. Williams has distributed his chosen handouts during previous school years without any problems. "
So, clearly, there is NO CASE here that the Principal was somehow anti-God and forced teachers to stop talking about God.
2.3 Is/Was Principal Widmar against the mention of anything to do with Jesus Christ or Christianity in the classroom?
The answer again is NO (not just because other teachers in the school are allowed to sharing materials with a Christian religious background with their students). Indeed, the plaintiffs' claim is patently false on this matter (see below).
Indeed, as Julia at American Street has pointed out, this becomes apparent from the plaintiffs claims as well (bold text is my emphasis):
"Mr. Williams also, presumably for Thanksgiving consumption, whips out the old chestnut about Christianity not being given equal status in a diverse society
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 applauded for those lessons.
“People are like, “Oh good, that’s diversity,’ ‘’ he said. “As soon as Christianity involved, it’s separation of church and state.'’"
Well, not quite that either. From the complaint:
"In November 2003, Mr. Williams taught a lesson on the origins of Thanksgiving.
On December 2003 and January 2004, Mr. Williams taught lessons on the origins of religious holidays, including Christmas, Ramadan, Diwali, Hanukah and the Chinese New Year.
Principal Vidmar did not object to the lessons about Thanksgiving or the religious holidays.
In April 2004, Mr. Williams intended to teach a lesson about the religious holiday of Easter.
Principal Vidmar ordered Mr. Williams not to teach a lesson about Easter.
Principal Vidmar gave this order because Easter is a Christian religious holiday."
See, Christmas? Not a Christian religious holiday and he was allowed to teach it in a lesson talking about multicultural religious celebrations and their role in american life.
Not to mention the complaint also states the following in page 6 of the lawsuit:
"56. Mr. Williams has distributed his chosen handouts during previous school years without any problems."
So, Mr. Williams was not really "discriminated against" in the past - which means that Principal Widmar cannot simply be against God or Christianity can she? Obviously something else precipitated the change in her position, didn't it? Rather than Ms. Vidmar supposedly being against a "Christian" like plaintiff Williams or "discriminating" against him.
And take a look at this passage from his "Easter assignment":
John Adams wrote, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." He also wrote a paper called, "American Independence was Achieved Upon the Principles of Christianity." Write a one page report on why he felt so strongly that this nation should be founded on Christian principles and quote some primary sources.
Review some of the famous teachings of Jesus Christ such as: the Golden Rule, the Sermon on the Mount, and parable of the Good Samaritan. Write a response to this teaching and how it is applied today in our culture and examples of how it has shaped our nation. Present a short oral presentation or skit to the class which demonstrates what you learned.
Williams neglects to inform these kids that Adams and other founding fathers had a healthy disdain for the "superstition" of Christianity and many had serious doubts about the divinity of Jesus. They founded this nation on Judeo-Christian principles only as far as those that agree with the principles of Reason (capital R, as in the Enlightenment). Don't believe me? Here's a treaty signed by John Adams:
"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
-- Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, U.S. Consul)
And more from Adams himself:
Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
-- John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88), from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society (1965) p. 258, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"
We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions ... shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power ... we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.
-- John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785, quoted from Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom (1991)
As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?
-- John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816
The frightful engines of ecclesiastical councils, of diabolical malice, and Calvinistical good-nature never failed to terrify me exceedingly whenever I thought of preaching.
-- John Adams, letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, October 18, 1756, explaining why he rejected the ministry
I shall have liberty to think for myself without molesting others or being molested myself.
-- John Adams, letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, August 29, 1756, explaining how his independent opinions would create much difficulty in the ministry, in Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation (1987) p. 88, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"
When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it.
-- John Adams, from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient Christianism which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles after miracles have rolled down in torrents.
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 3, 1813, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
Cabalistic Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1,500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits.... Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola's. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816
Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
-- John Adams, letter to his son, John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821, from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, from George Seldes, The Great Quotations, also from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.... And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.
-- John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814, quoted in Norman Cousins, In God We Trust: The Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers (1958), p. 108, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief
In that one lesson plan, Williams has certainly distorted the beliefs of John Adams. That in itself is a reason for any responsible principal to yank it. Williams may not have known better, but he should have.
Edited by Spectacles, 11 December 2004 - 03:02 PM.