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And on the other hand…

…sometimes common sense does prevail. A federal appeals court has ruled that a San Diego County school district does have the right to tell Christian teachers not to use their classrooms for proselytizing. The case at hand concerns a math teacher who wanted to establish religion by hanging “testimonial” banners in his class.

The two banners, each about 7 feet by 2 feet, contained references to God from U.S. documents and patriotic songs. One quoted the Declaration of Independence passage that all men are “endowed by their CREATOR” with unalienable rights.

The banners also trumpeted phrases such as “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE,” but do not seem to have imparted any concepts with any particular relationship to mathematics, the subject of the class. Predictably, the teacher complained about discrimination against Christians, effectively confessing that he was indeed explicitly promoting Christianity in the classroom. At first, this was a winning argument, but when the appeals court looked at what he was specifically complaining about, it reversed the lower court ruling.

The “problem” cited by the teacher, Bradley Johnson, was that other teachers were allowed to promote non-Christian religions. As evidence for this, however, the best he could do was a few Tibetan prayer flags in an exhibit about climbing Mt. Everest, and a poster with the lyrics to John Lennon’s song, Imagine. Since the science teacher is not Tibetan, and Lennon’s lyrics do not promote any particular faith, the court rightly ruled that this is not at all the same thing as having a teacher actively promote his own personal faith in Christ when he’s supposed to be teaching mathematics.

Speaking for the losers, “Robert Meuse of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian firm, said he was disappointed by the ruling and would ask the full appeals court for a rehearing.” Chalk up another one for the TMLC. Do they ever take on a case that’s not on the wrong side of the law?