View Poll Results: Should public school teachers be able to call creationism "superstitious nonsense"?

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  • Yes; they have freedom of speech and academic freedom

    33 56.90%
  • No; this amounts to the state picking sides on a religious matter

    14 24.14%
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    11 18.97%
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Thread: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

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    Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    A public high school teacher in California may not be sued for making hostile remarks about religion in his classroom, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

    The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a student charging that the teacherís hostile remarks about creationism and religious faith violated a First Amendment mandate that the government remain neutral in matters of religion.

    US judges rule for teacher who called creationism 'superstitious nonsense' - CSMonitor.com
    I thought this was an interesting ruling because it isn't specifically about evolution versus creationism. (On that issue, schools should obviously teach evolution and not creationism, because one is a matter of scientific fact and the other is a matter of religion.) But in this case, you have a teacher who specifically called creationism "superstitious nonsense." Some people had a problem with this and sued the school, on the grounds that the state should not establish a religion. The judge ruled that the teacher should be able to voice that opinion in the classroom if he wanted to.

    I'm actually on the plaintiff's side on this. While I think there is plenty of good reason to be hostile toward creationism, that's no reason for the teacher to make a statement like this. For those who disagree, ask yourself if you would be OK with a teacher saying the same thing about some other doctrine of religious faith: "Judaism is superstitious nonsense," or "the virgin birth is superstitious nonsense," or "not believing in God is superstitious nonsense." I think that whether one agrees with those statements or not, it's a bad precedent to allow government employees to express their personal religious views to a captive audience.

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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Ever heard of the First Amendment?
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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Quote Originally Posted by Proud South Korean View Post
    Ever heard of the First Amendment?
    Umm yes? Is that an argument for or against the ruling?
    Last edited by Kandahar; 08-21-11 at 06:14 AM.
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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Umm yes? Is that an argument for or against the ruling?
    Obviously, the US Constitution allows for free speech, so the argument was just, as the statement was protected by the teacher's freedom of speech.
    Of course, a student could speak out against that or the media could, it's all the matter of free speech
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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Quote Originally Posted by Proud South Korean View Post
    Obviously, the US Constitution allows for free speech, so the argument was just, as the statement was protected by the teacher's freedom of speech.
    The First Amendment also states that the government shall establish no religion, so it isn't quite that simple. Government employees are entitled to freedom of speech like everyone else, but they aren't necessarily entitled to it when they're acting in an official capacity. It's why a teacher can't lead his class in prayer, for example. Or why a federal judge can't have a plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. They have freedom of speech on their own time, but they cannot act in a way that suggests that the state favors one religion over another. Which is why I'm siding with the plaintiffs on this case.
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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I thought this was an interesting ruling because it isn't specifically about evolution versus creationism. (On that issue, schools should obviously teach evolution and not creationism, because one is a matter of scientific fact and the other is a matter of religion.) But in this case, you have a teacher who specifically called creationism "superstitious nonsense." Some people had a problem with this and sued the school, on the grounds that the state should not establish a religion. The judge ruled that the teacher should be able to voice that opinion in the classroom if he wanted to.

    I'm actually on the plaintiff's side on this. While I think there is plenty of good reason to be hostile toward creationism, that's no reason for the teacher to make a statement like this. For those who disagree, ask yourself if you would be OK with a teacher saying the same thing about some other doctrine of religious faith: "Judaism is superstitious nonsense," or "the virgin birth is superstitious nonsense," or "not believing in God is superstitious nonsense." I think that whether one agrees with those statements or not, it's a bad precedent to allow government employees to express their personal religious views to a captive audience.

    What do you think?
    1.) This ruling came from the 9th Circuit. Enough said.
    2.) Try substituting Muslim references for religious creationist references and I can't see the court issuing the ruling.
    3.) Try substituting liberal creationist for religious creationist and again, I can't see the same ruling.
    4.) When you're an employee your freedom of speech is curtailed.

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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Well, it is. Saying so is not establishing a religion. You can be religious and not believe in creationism. It's establishing a standard for what counts as science. Establishing that standard is necessary in order to teach science. Introducing something like creationism to the discussion is giving it far more credit than it deserves. It doesn't belong in arena of science - it belongs in the arena of, well, superstition. And that should be made clear when someone falsely conflates the two as if they are equally valid scientific theories.

    I really doubt there would be this sort of dust-up if he'd said the same about someone who believes in a flat earth.

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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    Calling it nonsense is an estimation in poor taste IMO in the company of other people's children, calling it superstition is accurate. What does this have to do with "establishing a religion" Kandahar? Was the state "picking sides on a religious matter" in "Kitzmiller v. Dover School District"? Nope, just calling bull**** what it is.

    To me this is about as bad as telling kinder-gardeners that Santa doesn't exist. You're not wrong but...
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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    If a teacher can state that creationism is bunk then a teacher can state that creationism is fact. This should have never got to the lawsuit stage. A school system should realize where this would lead and handled it before the lawsuit happened.

    Somehow I doubt that the court would have ruled for the latter. It's why the 9th is a running joke.

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    Re: Judges rule for teacher who called creationism "superstitious nonsense"

    If you are teaching science, creationism is superstitious nonsense. No scientific method has been used to come up with creationism. In this case I don’t know if the student complained in class that creationism was not being considered as a valid position in science, which it is not. If the student was challenging the teacher and would not cease when it was explained that creationism is not science then having the words superstitious nonsense used is understandable. If the teacher starts with creationism is superstitious nonsense as part of a science curriculum then there is a problem with the teacher’s methodology, and that should be addressed by the teacher’s supervisors. Creationist teaching is being done in a way now to suggest challenging science. In doing that it intends to cause this trouble and allows them to complain, and intended result.

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