Court Rejects Strange Church/State Suit


Howard Friedman reports on a very unusual church/state lawsuit in New Jersey, where a man sued the local school board for refusing to put a referendum on the ballot that would ask voters to essentially convert the Camden Public Schools into Christian schools. Here’s the ballot language he demanded:

1) Do you … want your Public Schools to open the daily session in prayer in a pledge of allegiance to the god we trust by the children in acknowledgment of God and His son Jesus Christ. The Prayer given to us by His Son Jesus Christ the “Our Father Which art in Heaven hollowed [sic] be Thy Name.”…

2) Do you … want a Holy Bible based curriculum in your Public Schools which teaches the truth and the presence of God as creator in alignment with our New Jersey State Constitution where we are Grateful to Almighty God and looking towards Him for a blessing unimpaired in the endeavor to properly educate our children….

When the school board said no, the guy filed a lawsuit based on the free exercise and equal protection clause. I’m sure he’s shocked to find out he was full of shit.

Comments

  1. mattand says

    Make that “forcing kids.” Thanks, Monday morning.

    I know FtB is going through a lot of drama right now, but is there any hope of getting a better commenting system in place?

  2. dingojack says

    Well at least in Camden they do it better.
    In Texas the fool board votes in moronic ideas like this one, get sued, angry scenes erupt, they lose the case then have to figure which teacher they’re gonna have to fire to be able to afford the damages.
    Somewhat an improvement.
    Dingo

  3. MikeMa says

    The fool Rev Torres might want to look at his passport. That kind of crap belongs in Saudi Arabia & Iran.

    Wait, though. The sheer stupidity points strongly to an average American education.

  4. dogmeat says

    Wait, though. The sheer stupidity points strongly to an average American education.

    Actually Mike, an “average” American education is quite good, when you account for poverty US schools rank 3rd in the world, problem is 15% of Americans live in poverty. In those areas the general services are lacking, not just education.

    Also, it has been my experience, when you run into someone like this guy, no amount of education will ever convince him that his “Truth” is wrong, unconstitutional, etc. I’ve had people tell me flat out that they don’t care if it is wrong, unconstitutional, illegal, etc., they know it is “Right” and “True” and “Believe.”

    A few years ago I had a student who truly exemplifies this mentality. She believed much as this Torres fellow does, mandatory school prayer (Christian of course), that the constitution is based on the Bible, that the founding fathers were evangelical Christians, the list goes on and on. She presented me with one of those chain emails as “evidence” to support her position. I went through, step by step, and refuted every single one of her email points, at the end she said, “that’s okay, I don’t care, I like it my way.” A generally intelligent girl, good student (A’s and B’s), went to good schools, etc., simply dismissed reality because she liked the fantasy better.

  5. MikeMa says

    @dogmeat,
    With the high percentage of people who still believe in a young earth, a biblical flood, a biblically founded US, creationism, a Kenyan or Muslim Obama, global warming as myth and untold numbers of wild conspiracy theories, I should be complaining about critical thinking skills, not the available education.

    But if Texass is the future model for GOP sponsored education, I wont have long to wait until the vast majority believe that crap. While the numbers are still mostly below 40% for now, the crippling and dismantling of our education system may be the hardest problem to fix in our future.

  6. jnorris says

    And now he is a True Persecuted Christian! Newsletter describing said persecution and asking for dollars to fight coming to a mailbox near you.

  7. iknklast says

    Dogmeat – “A few years ago I had a student who truly exemplifies this mentality.”

    Lucky you. I have students (in the plural) every semester who truly exemplify this mentality. We also have several instructors in our college who exemplify this mentality. I am routinely handed copies of Lee Strobel/C. S. Lewis/(Fill in name here of someone who writes reasonably readable Christian gobbledygook without too many big words). I have taken to politely offering to trade literature with them; so far, no takers.

    Meanwhile, our administration invites speakers to our mandatory inservice who are barely concealed religious speakers (they change God to “voices” or something else equally imagined to be secular, but which just succeeds in pointing out the total nuttiness of their point of view to those of us who are sane, but just reinforces for the rest how persecuted they are that they can’t thrust God in our faces at mandatory meetings in public schools).

    I hope you never have to deal with another student with that mentality. No one should have to go through that. Unfortunately, with Social Security likely to go down, I probably can’t leave a job when I’m only 14 years from retirement.

  8. Michael Heath says

    MikeMa writes:

    , I should be complaining about critical thinking skills, not the available education.

    Actually we fail miserably to teach critical thinking, even at the university level. Educators share a significant portion of blame for that. That doesn’t mean I blame educators alone for millions of voters thinking like this, we can also direct our attention at journalists and our culture in general – both our willingness to accept dishonesty and even liberal apathy at failing to formally teach and test critical thinking skills as part of an ongoing curriculum.

  9. dogmeat says

    MikeMa:

    @dogmeat,
    With the high percentage of people who still believe in a young earth, a biblical flood, a biblically founded US, creationism, a Kenyan or Muslim Obama, global warming as myth and untold numbers of wild conspiracy theories, I should be complaining about critical thinking skills, not the available education.

    Mike,

    Personally I would argue that this phenomenon isn’t necessarily a lack of critical thinking skills but more of a symptom of tribalism and authoritarianism. Their Bible (more likely their preacher) says “this” so no amount of evidence is going to convince them otherwise. They identify as Republicans/conservatives so the Republican party is always right. They hear over and over the same garbage that climate change isn’t real, tax cuts will create jobs, Obama is the devil, illegal immigrants are taking their healthcare, their jobs, their access to welfare, etc., and because of the in-crowd thinking they dismiss any arguments to the contrary as “liberal media bias.” Any questioning of these positions is portrayed as anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-everything, so really it isn’t that they can’t think critically about these issues, they wont do so because to do so betrays all they believe in. Nasty little Catch-22. All of that strikes me as more of a faith based belief system than a cognitive function. Someone who “Believes” something is unlikely to be convinced by something as silly as evidence.

    iknklast:

    Lucky you. I have students (in the plural) every semester who truly exemplify this mentality. We also have several instructors in our college who exemplify this mentality. I am routinely handed copies of Lee Strobel/C. S. Lewis/(Fill in name here of someone who writes reasonably readable Christian gobbledygook without too many big words). I have taken to politely offering to trade literature with them; so far, no takers.

    I wish I could say that it was just the one, but no. I meant that this student exemplified the mentality but actually did possess the intelligence and skills that they should have known better. In her case she chose to simply ignore the evidence and stick with her theocratic fantasy land. I generally have a dozen or more students who espouse similar beliefs but aren’t as intellectually sound as this person was. I live and work in Mormon/Baptist country, Reverend Torres would fit right in with many of the folks down here.

    Actually we fail miserably to teach critical thinking, even at the university level. Educators share a significant portion of blame for that.

    Michael,

    I can tell you, quite honestly, teaching someone critical thinking skills is the most difficult thing to teach. To make them aware of how they (and others) think, about how different factors influence everyone’s thinking processes, etc., is quite difficult. Students who want to learn quite readily pick up the “who, what, where,” it is the “why” and the “how” that prove to be quite difficult. Cascading effects, chain reactions, cause and effect relationships, it’s like trying to shovel sand with a pitchfork. Add in trying to get them to think about why they think…ouch.

    I work with college prep students, often times I’m their first college level class these kids are taking, and every year I have kids who work hard, do their homework, come in for tutoring, but the deeper, critical connections just don’t add up. I walk them through a problem/question, prompt them with questions that illustrate that next level of thinking, when I’m there with them, helping them along, they get it, unfortunately the next time they’re given a scenario, they can’t do it. They come in again, I walk them through the new problem, point out the similarities to the previous problem we worked with, and how they were aware then how their thinking needed to progress. They get it, again, but next time? Same thing arises.

    One of the things that kills them every year is bias & point of view. They really struggle with what motivates people, what clarifies or clouds their thinking, etc. When you add everything else to their own religious and political beliefs (or more precisely their parents), then the fun begins. They generally don’t have actual opinions based upon evidence, careful thought, and consideration; they have talking points based upon what they were told by a person of authority. Often trying to get them to even consider thinking critically about anything they care about leads to immediate conflict and closing of minds:

    ” ‘X’ is good…”

    “Why?”

    “*sputter* Why do you hate ‘X?’ “

  10. Michael Heath says

    dogmeat,

    Your observations point to exactly why I would argue critical thinking has to be its own ongoing topic in K-university curriculums. We should celebrate argumentation, teach how to do it, and how to excel at it.

  11. dogmeat says

    Your observations point to exactly why I would argue critical thinking has to be its own ongoing topic in K-university curriculums. We should celebrate argumentation, teach how to do it, and how to excel at it.

    For many years I would have agreed with you enthusiastically, but given the political climate of the last three years, I find devil’s advocate argumentative teaching strategies quite draining. I still do it, but it takes a lot out of me because I’ve found that those on the far right, today’s mainstream Republicans, not only don’t want to think critically about their stances on issues, they find it a personal attack to even question the validity of their unsubstantiated talking point stances.

    The cognitive dissonance, venom, and outright hatred that drives many on the right is painful to begin with, dealing with it in kids who really don’t know why Obamacare is socialism, or Obama is a Fascist, Muslim, Atheist, Communist, or how increasing defense spending and cutting taxes will balance the budget, or how Obama is weak and ineffective *and* on the verge of turning the US into an all powerful dictatorship at the same time, or any number of idiotic, self-contradictory positions that they espouse is True®.

    Like I said, I still do it, but it is a lot less effective, rewarding, or “fun,” than it was even three or four years ago.

  12. Bartholomew Remmington says

    Do you … want your Public Schools to open the daily session in prayer…. The Prayer given to us by His Son Jesus Christ the “Our Father Which art in Heaven hollowed [sic] be Thy Name.”…

    Yes, another “Christian” who hasn’t actually read the bible!

    Poor little confused man. Let use review Matthew 6 shall we?

    6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    That being said, I wholeheartedly support this! However, not this idiot’s version. Let them say it in the original Greek (what, surely these godiots don’t think the bible was written in English, do they? They do?! Christ on a cracker!)

    All together now!

    ΠΑΤΕΡ ΗΜΩΝ Ο ΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΟΥΡΑΝΟΙΣ
    ΑΓΙΑΣΘΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΟΝΟΜΑ ΣΟΥ
    ΕΛΘΕΤΩ Η ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑ ΣΟΥ
    ΓΕΝΗΘΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΘΕΛΗΜΑ ΣΟΥ,
    ΩΣ ΕΝ ΟΥΡΑΝΩ ΚΑΙ ΕΠΙ ΤΗΣ ΓΗΣ
    ΤΟΝ ΑΡΤΟΝ ΗΜΩΝ ΤΟΝ ΕΠΙΟΥΣΙΟΝ
    ΔΟΣ ΗΜΙΝ ΣΗΜΕΡΟΝ
    ΚΑΙ ΑΦΕΣ ΗΜΙΝ ΤΑ ΟΦΕΙΛΗΜΑΤΑ ΗΜΩΝ,
    ΩΣ ΚΑΙ ΗΜΕΙΣ ΑΦΙΕΜΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΟΦΕΙΛΕΤΑΙΣ ΗΜΩΝ
    ΚΑΙ ΜΗ ΕΙΣΕΝΕΓΚΗΣ ΗΜΑΣ ΕΙΣ ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΝ,
    ΑΛΛΑ ΡΥΣΑΙ ΗΜΑΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΥ ΠΟΝΗΡΟΥ.
    ΑΜΗΝ.

    Yo, Timmy! You aren’t saying the prayer! Do you want to go to the principal’s office young man?

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