Activist Judge Injects Religion into Classroom

Just look at these monstrosities:

How to kill the Constitution, part 1

They’re obscene!

How to kill the Constitution, part 2

They are very clear violations of the Establishment Clause. They don’t belong in a classroom. Thanks to an activist judge appointed by George W Bush and rubber-stamped by the Republican Senate in 2004, a San Diego school teacher now has the right to impose his religious views upon his students.

A press release by the über-fundie Constitution-hating Thomas More Law Center tells us:

California Federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled late this past Friday that the Poway Unified School District in San Diego, CA, violated math teacher Bradley Johnson’s constitutional rights when it ordered him to remove two patriotic banners from the walls of his classroom because they “over-emphasized” God.

Apparently the rights of the teacher, who is a representative of the state while teaching, take precedence over the rights of hundreds of students, who are compelled by the state to attend this school.

Judge Benitez’s 32-page opinion was strongly worded and critical of the Poway school districts aversion to mentioning God: “…That God places prominently in our Nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”

Fine. Teach that as part of the history curriculum. And also teach that many of the founding fathers were atheist, agnostic, or deist. That would put things in proper historical context. Hanging up two 7-foot pro-God recruitment banners in school is not teaching “historical fact”.

30 Responses to “Activist Judge Injects Religion into Classroom”

  1. Mange Says:

    I need a bucket or a bag to puke in…

  2. Thomas Says:

    and in San Diego, no less. Where I went to school, in Georgia, this kind of thing was par for the course but it’s disconcerting to hear about it in southern California.

    Just goes to show that there are nutters everywhere.

  3. CybrgnX Says:

    Hey you have to admit the only way the religious succeed at getting new people is to indoctrinate the young because anyone over 12 is getting smart enough to know they are full of schite.

  4. Syldoran Says:

    That, and once you hit the high school level, students realize that they can freakin’ leave the classroom if they want to. I know I would.

  5. Ron Britton Says:


    San Diego is actually a very red county. As I’ve said before, California is redder than a lot of people realize. We gave the world Ronald Reagan, you know.

  6. TheRealistMom Says:

    You’d better NOT leave the classroom young lady!

    … actually you know how full of it I am saying that. If that sort of thing was so nauseatingly shoved into your face at school I would be right there raising holy hell (heh).

    I fail to see any educational value in how that is being presented. At all. The defense of it is insane.

  7. Dale Says:

    Yes, unless one has actually experienced living in California he doesn’t realize that there are many fundies there, especially inland.

  8. matt Says:

    while those banners are offensive, they do not violate the establishment clause; or at least not anymoreso than do the pledge of allegiance, the words on our money or the display of the declaration of independence in public buildings.

    the judge got it right.

    (and the banners were not originally ordered taken down because of separation issues, but because the school administrator found them to be “disruptive”.)

  9. Ron Britton Says:


    I disagree. First of all, the Pledge and the slogan on the money are violations of the Establishment Clause. We just have too many judges in this country who are too blind to see it. In any event, both of those fall under the category of “ceremonial deism”, which the courts believe isn’t a big enough breach.

    These banners go beyond ceremonial deism. They are clearly an endorsement of a particular religion.

  10. godlizard Says:

    I wonder what the judge’s ruling would have been if it had been references to something other than the Judeo-Christian deity. Not that that would have made it as far as a court anyway, can you imagine the screeching PTA meetings if there were signs related to Mohammed or Vishnu or Buddha.

  11. Ron Britton Says:


    You should read the press release I linked to. Apparently one of the justifications the judge gave was because other teachers had their own pet causes on class walls. There were posters promoting the scandalous idea that humans are responsible for global warming. There were Tibetan prayer flags (which are probably there to teach about Tibet and not try to convert people to Buddhism). There was also a picture of the Dalai Lama. I’m not sure the context of that. It may have been a pro-peace poster, the same way there are lots of pro-peace posters of the Christian minister Martin Luther King. I do not consider MLK posters in any way to be a violation of the Establishment Clause. We should adorn every classroom wall with an MLK poster.

    Anyway, the issue is a little more nuanced than I had time to go into in the article. However, the bottom line remains: Those banners are clearly intended to promote Christianity. Therefore, they are violations of the Establishment Clause.

  12. godlizard Says:

    Ahh, my bad, I get in a hurry trying to read all my favorite blogs 🙂 It’s hard to keep up…

    Well, it does lessen the sting a little if we had some alternative viewpoints represented — but there’s no comparison between a poster of the Dalai Lama and those ugly-ass banners which are basically quote mining without context, directly out of the “we are a Christian nation” playbook.

  13. Parrotlover77 Says:

    San Diego is actually a very red county. As I’ve said before, California is redder than a lot of people realize. We gave the world Ronald Reagan, you know.

    And you gave us Enron and elected Arnold! Who, along with insane laws requiring a super majority to pass tax increases (right?), has effectively destroyed the once amazing promise of getting a (nearly?) free college education to California residents. That’s not even to mention the other social programs destroyed by the phallic tobacco-product sucking asshole in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’. All those steroids must have fried too many brain cells.

    But I digress.

    Local and national politics are such different beasts. I live in North Carolina and though we did go Obama in ’08 (yes!) we typically don’t do that on the national level. Yet at the local/state level, Democrats have absolutely pwned for decades — even with shitty candidates! And they aren’t all Blue Dogs, either. Granted, quite a few are in that boat, but not all.

  14. Ron Britton Says:

    California’s only connection to Enron was as rapee.

    The state’s problems go back at least as far as Proposition 13, passed by the tax-haters in 1978. I don’t know when the super-majority requirement happened, but that’s also thanks to the tax-haters. Then Three Strikes came along and effectively swapped the prison and education budgets. Apparently it’s OK for taxes to pay for prisons but not schools.

    Arnold’s crime was being an ignoramus. He ended up committing the same blunders, but to a larger degree, than the “horrible” Gray Davis, who he and his fellow Rethuglicans yanked out of office in a recall.

  15. The Runaway Lawyer Says:

    No, um, we here in Texas gave you Enron.

    Sorry ’bout that.

    Those signs are vile.

  16. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Oh, oops. My bad. Thanks for a history correction. I could have sworn they were based in Cali, but I’m always happy to be corrected. 🙂

    Yea, the recall election never made any sense to me. To actually end a politician’s term early is an absolutely drastic measure. And yet, nobody ever really said specifically what Mr. Davis did that was so bad (at least in national media, but I’m going on memory which thought Enron was Cali-based, so please feel free to correct LOL). It was just suddenly a recall and a bunch of douchebags wanting a ex-body builder and terrible actor as governor. It’s like Ronald Reagan with Muscles, only even dumber.

    I think of myself as politically pretty savvy. I understand that close elections always have a fudge factor that sometimes depends on some really ignorant people. But Arnold?! Governor? I never got that one. How about Paul Reubens for Attorney General?

  17. Jeff Eyges Says:

    It’s like Ronald Reagan with Muscles, only even dumber.

    You girlie-man!

    Seriously, though, I don’t think he’s dumb. He’s actually, I understand, made quite a bit of money over the years through astute management of his movie income. He’s what the conservatives used to be before they all went insane – terribly misguided.

    He fancies himself a fiscal conservative; he isn’t even all that far to the right on social issues, but, unfortunately, he capitulates to the wingnuts. I think it’s literally impossible to be a moderate Republican these days; the lunatics are running the party, and they simply won’t stand for it.

    I don’t really understand his marriage to Maria Shriver, but all they have to do is to pull out a photo of James Carville and Mary Matalin, and no one asks any questions.

  18. Jeff Eyges Says:

    How about Paul Reubens for Attorney General?

    Heh! Pee Wee Goes to Court. “Uh, duh, Your Honor!”

  19. Parrotlover77 Says:

    …but, unfortunately, he capitulates to the wingnuts.

    That’s my problem with him. I still maintain he’s a RR-but-dumber. Being able to manage millions you’ve made in the movie biz requires only not being incredibly retarded. It doesn’t require any level of intelligence. Give me a million, and I can retire by not spending it on a 30-room mansion or a fleet of hummers, if you catch my drift.

    I don’t really understand his marriage to Maria Shriver, but all they have to do is to pull out a photo of James Carville and Mary Matalin, and no one asks any questions.

    Word. I almost brought up Maria, but backtracked on the thought. The only thing I can think of is that the sex is absolutely freaking fantastic. I dated a conservative girl once. She drove me !$#@! crazy.

  20. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Being able to manage millions you’ve made in the movie biz requires only not being incredibly retarded. It doesn’t require any level of intelligence. Give me a million, and I can retire by not spending it on a 30-room mansion or a fleet of hummers, if you catch my drift.

    Well, my understanding is that he’s been actively involved in his investments, hasn’t simply turned it over to professional money managers – but you may be right!

  21. OtherRob Says:

    I don’t really understand his marriage to Maria Shriver, but all they have to do is to pull out a photo of James Carville and Mary Matalin, and no one asks any questions.

    It is possible to be happily married to someone without being in lockstep with them on every single issue. You can even believe very different things and have a happy marriage.

    I don’t know if either Jeff or PL are married so I won’t “lecture” on what it’s like. I’m such a nice guy. 😉

    I suspect that my mother would give both of you some pretty good competition for who’s the most liberal. But though I tend to be conservative in many ways, that has not changed how I feel about her or the respect I have for her and the lessons she’s taught me.

  22. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Rob, we aren’t talking about disagreement, but about a difference in fundamental ideology. Again, using my example – Matalin customarily uses the most derogatory language possible to denigrate everyone with whom Carville is or has been affiliated. She has absolutely no respect for what he does. Why they are married is a mystery; no one seems to understand it.

    Granted, they are an anomaly, but I could never be married to someone with whom I fundamentally disagreed on what I felt were important issues. I don’t even want to talk to someone who thinks Bush and Cheney are “great Americans” who saved Western civilization, or to a Christian fundamentalist who thinks everyone deserves to burn in hell; I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to one.

    And – your mom, man? Seriously? I don’t know too many people who do agree with their parents!

  23. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Geez, I just used variations on “fundamental” a lot! I’m getting sloppy.

  24. Parrotlover77 Says:

    OtherRob – I guess everybody is different. Having somebody with whom you agree with on most of life’s critical issues (and can vent to) is the best part of marraige to me (yes, I’m married). I totally agree with Jeff on this. It is honestly a complete mystery how those who have such different world views stay together.

    Anecdotally, couples I’ve known that were political polar opposites always seemed “less happy” than those who are aligned. Again, it’s just anecdotal from friends and aquaintances, but it seems that way to me. Frequent fights, lots of crying — that doesn’t happen between me and my wife. Maybe it’s not due to similar lifeviews, but it seems to make sense to me.

    *shrug* Who knows? Whatever makes you happy.

    I will say that when I was dating that really conservative lady, my emotions got in the way of knowing when to break it off for a couple weeks. I can see how that might extend longer. I just don’t know how you would extend it to old age!

  25. SoreLoser Says:

    About “differences” in marriage…anybody read George Lakoff? If he is correct (and he make a pretty good case), the difference between being a Liberal and being a Conservative comes down to a difference in world-view. And that the world-view is based on one’s view of the idealized view of the nation-as-Family.

    Briefly, Conservative’s view of Family/Nation is a “Strict Father” view. Strength and unbending morality are emphasized. A Liberal’s view of Family/Nation is a “Nurturant Parent” view. Cooperation and empathy are the primary ideals.

    Now, it is possible for people to have different world-views controlling different parts of their lives but give that we are looking at marriage/family, it is hard to see how there is no overlap.

  26. OtherRob Says:

    Jeff, I agree that I don’t necessarily “get” Carville and Matalin’s marriage, but then again, I don’t really “get” Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage either. But it’s not really up to me to get it. As PL said, whatever makes them happy or works for them.

    As for Maria and Arnold, I suspect their opinions are a lot closer to each other’s than Carville’s and Matalin’s.

    And – your mom, man? Seriously? I don’t know too many people who do agree with their parents!

    Actually I agree with both of my parents about many things. It’s just that my mom happens to have a much more “liberal”, I guess you’d call it worldview, than I do. And my wife agrees with her parents on many, many things. I don’t find it odd at all. My point was just to relate from personal experience that you can have a different philosophy from someone you love and respect. Though, granted, I no longer live with my mother. 😉

    And in the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I do tend to agree on most things. Our differences are more matters of degree than any substantive difference. Frankly, in some areas, she’s more conservative than I am. Perhaps that’s my mother’s influence. 🙂

  27. Tedlick Badkey Says:

    Just look at the teacher and go:

    “Creator? Ain’t that Xenu?”

    Methinks you’d fail for the rest of the year… but it’d be worth it.

    Parents need to wake up and take part in their education.

  28. sue blue Says:

    Besides all the shrill, strident flag-waving Jesus-lovin’, what really chaps my ass is the all “men” are created equal thing. Yes, I know the Bill of Rights says that, but I think it’s telling that this bipedal anus chooses that quote to hang over his door. You’d think someone would complain about the blatant sexism, if not misogyny, expressed in that little display. This knuckle-dragger may be able to get away with pimping his religion for now, but what about the sexism? I wonder how it would go over if someone suggested he change “God shed His grace…” to “God shed Her grace…” The reaction would be telling.

  29. Parrotlover77 Says:

    sue blue – Historically, using the word ‘men’ was very common when refering to the human race as a whole. I’m not sure of the time period it fell out of favor, but I’m glad it did. It was sexist, mysoginist, etc., but we can’t deny, it was the norm. You can look back at those documents (as you mentioned the DoI) and understand the intent, despite the dated verbiage, even though the author did probably think women were supposed to be subserviant to men in most respects.

    But, putting that quote on that sign was clearly, oh so clearly, NOT just an innocent quote of a great document in our nation’s history. No, it was a call to back to a time this person wishes he lived. Where he doesn’t have to treat women or others with cultural differences with respect. He just wants his manhood stroked and his ego propped up to account for the fact that he’s probably a worthless piece of shit.

    I really like the suggestion of changing the gender of the ‘god’ quote. I would absolutely love to see somebody at that school do that — just to show him it goes both ways!

  30. sue blue Says:

    Parrot-lover – I too am glad that the word “man” has generally been changed to “human” or “people” when referring to hominids of both genders. I remember, as a 4th or 5th grader, getting really steamed at a museum display that depicted human evolution as the “Rise of Man”. Not only did it seem to imply to me that women were an evolutionary sidebar, but it also implied that men are the absolute pinnacle of natural selection, as though the entire process through 4 billion years had some sort of goal – namely the eventual emergence of a bearded, slow, shuffling, scraggly-haired guy with naked genitalia dangling like ripe and vulnerable fruit. Teachers and parents patiently explained to me the inclusive spirit of the term “men”. For a while when I was growing up in my christian home, I took the side of the feminists who wanted to refer to god as “her”, before growing out of it and becoming an atheist. The sexism inherent in most religions was a huge part of my ultimate rejection of them.