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Unassisted
06-28-2005, 03:13 PM
http://www.vvdailypress.com/2005/111996392756993.html

Term paper about 'God' earns student failing grade

'He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny. He wanted to censor the word God.'

http://www.vvdailypress.com/storypics2/062805_god.jpgAaron J.H. Walker / Staff Photographer
Bethany Hauf looks through a draft of her final paper titled 'In God We Trust' at her home in Apple Valley.


By LEROY STANDISH/Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE — For using the "G" word 41 times in a term paper, Bethany Hauf was given an "F" by her Victor Valley Community College instructor.

Hauf's teacher approved her term paper topic — Religion and its Place within the Government — on one condition: Don't use the word God. Instead of complying with VVCC adjunct instructor Michael Shefchik's condition Hauf wrote a 10-page report for her English 101 class entitled "In God We Trust."

"He said it would offend others in class," Hauf, a 34-year-old mother of four, said. "I didn't realize God was taboo."

Hauf has received legal assistance from the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ is a conservative Christian legal foundation founded by Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, who is also the founder, chairman and face of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"I don't loose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," Hauf said. She is demanding an apology from the teacher and that the paper be re-graded.

The college says the issue over Hauf's paper, written during the spring semester, has been satisfactorily resolved. "We settled this matter during the course of this class," said Judy Solis, chair of VVC's English department. "She was treated fairly and she knew what the options were."

Shefchik could not be reached for this report.

Hauf took her concerns about not being able to use "God" in her report to her teacher, then to the department chair. During a joint meeting between all three the options were laid out: Hand in the report with the "G" word or revise, edit or re-write the paper, Solis said.

"She continued to write her paper," Solis said. "She knew what the consequences were."

Hauf acknowledges she knew her teacher's condition for writing the paper, but argued it would be impossible to write about the affect of Christianity on the development of the United States without using the word God. "He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny," Hauf said. "He wanted to censor the word God."

Hauf first approached her teacher about writing her paper in an April 12 e-mail, according to a 12-page ACLJ paper sent to the college offering legal opinions in favor of Hauf.

Shefchik wrote her back an e-mail approving her topic choice, but at the same time cautioning her to be objective in her reporting. "I have one limiting factor," Shefchik wrote, according to the ACLJ. "No mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation."

The ACLJ said his actions are unconstitutional. "A student's constitutional free speech rights to express religious views are fully protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments," the ACLJ wrote.

In addition to an apology and a re-grading of Hauf's paper, the ACLJ demands Shefchik "receive some kind of training to sensitize him to the constitutional dimensions of his employment in a public educational institution, including his duty to respect constitutional freedoms of expression."

Hauf's husband supports his wife's position. "She has to pursue this. Not only has her civil rights been violated this is an English class she took, not a political science course," Fritz Hauf said. "She should be graded on the composition not the 'G' word."

Though getting an "F" on the research paper Hauf got a "C" for the class.

WVRed
06-28-2005, 03:15 PM
:thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown :thumbdown

westofyou
06-28-2005, 03:18 PM
on one condition: Don't use the word God. Instead of complying with VVCC adjunct instructor Michael Shefchik's condition Hauf wrote a 10-page report for her English 101 class entitled "In God We Trust."

Well... I guess she's above the rules eh?

Falls City Beer
06-28-2005, 03:19 PM
Somebody should send the author of this article to college for a brush-up on proofreading.

Or maybe I should just say, "God, what a stupid writer!" ;)

Whatever, baby, life ain't fair, and the teacher makes the rules. Now go suck on your thumb. :cry:

registerthis
06-28-2005, 03:21 PM
The ACLJ said his actions are unconstitutional. "A student's constitutional free speech rights to express religious views are fully protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments," the ACLJ wrote.
It sounds like the student was informed well in advance about the criteria for the paper, and chose to ignore them.

If the professor wanted her to write a paper without using the word "refrigerator", he could have done so. If the student intentionally ignored the criteria for the paper, then her grade is understandable. If she met with the teacher and department chair, and the criteria of the paper was firmly established, I don't know what her grounds for complaint are.

With regards to the quote above, she has every right to hold the views that she does...but the professor is under absolutely no obligation to give her a passing grade for them.

traderumor
06-28-2005, 03:27 PM
Why didn't she just substitute Lord?

God help me, I agree with WOY and FCB here. ;) I'm really not understanding her and the ACLJ's position. Where was her free speech violated? And does free speech extend to term papers with specific instructions?

guttle11
06-28-2005, 03:31 PM
This is stupid. Its not a matter ofsupressing a religious belief. Its a matter of a student breaking the prompt. Ill go back a 5 years when i was in 8th grade. I took the Profiency test. The one thing our teacher told us was that you have to follow the prompt. Doesnt matter if your essay was Pulitzer worthy, if it doesnt follow the propmt, you fail. This is no different than if the teacher said dont write about Baseball, and she wrote a paper titled "Why Pete rose should be reinstated to MLB". Fail.

I am conservative and a christian, but come on, this is stupid :rolleyes:

RedFanAlways1966
06-28-2005, 03:32 PM
So a simple three letter word, GOD, is a bad word? It is like words that I cannot type in here... the F word, a slang word for feces, a word that means a female dog?!? So much for freedom-of-speech. I am holding my breath until the ACLU comes in and protects this lady (the student, not the teacher). Where uis the ACLU?!?


... sounds like the student was informed well in advance about the criteria for the paper, and chose to ignore them


Whatever, baby, life ain't fair, and the teacher makes the rules. Now go suck on your thumb

Criteria? Rules made by others? Gee... I guess these comments open a BIG can of worms for the future on the non-BB side of RZ.

Go suck your thumb? I might use that phrase the next time Rove or Rummy make comments that seem to offend certain types. I love it! I really do!

:laugh: :beerme:

Falls City Beer
06-28-2005, 03:36 PM
So a simple three letter word, GOD, is a bad word? It is like words that I cannot type in here... the F word, a slang word for feces, a word that means a female dog?!? So much for freedom-of-speech. I am holding my breath until the ACLU comes in and protects this lady (the student, not the teacher). Where uis the ACLU?!?





Criteria? Rules made by others? Gee... I guess these comments open a BIG can of worms for the future on the non-BB side of RZ.

Go suck your thumb? I might use that phrase the next time Rove or Rummy make comments that seem to offend certain types. I love it! I really do!

:laugh: :beerme:

Are you implying that I break the rules of Redszone? Or that I cry about Rummy's or Rove's comments? I shriek like a girl, I don't cry.

But seriously, what on earth are you talking about?

guttle11
06-28-2005, 03:37 PM
So a simple three letter word, GOD, is a bad word? It is like words that I cannot type in here... the F word, a slang word for feces, a word that means a female dog?!? So much for freedom-of-speech. I am holding my breath until the ACLU comes in and protects this lady (the student, not the teacher). Where uis the ACLU?!?





Criteria? Rules made by others? Gee... I guess these comments open a BIG can of worms for the future on the non-BB side of RZ.

Go suck your thumb? I might use that phrase the next time Rove or Rummy make comments that seem to offend certain types. I love it! I really do!

:laugh: :beerme:

there is nothing wrong with the word GOD.

The problem is that she is whining about a failing grade when she deserves it. She didnt follow the prompt. Fail.

its not a constitutional matter. Not a matter of church and State. Its a matter of following directions. Something they taught me in preschool.

Kudos to the teacher :beerme:

RedFanAlways1966
06-28-2005, 03:40 PM
there is nothing wrong with the word GOD.

The problem is that she is whining about a failing grade when she deserves it. She didnt follow the prompt. Fail.

its not a constitutional matter. Not a matter of church and State. Its a matter of following directions. Something they taught me in preschool.


I respect that, but.... and the list of other banned words that this teacher gave to the whole class? I want to see the whole list of banned words.

Why was GOD banned? Was this a class about satanism or is it the teacher's personal views that caused him/her to ban GOD? If so, does that make GOD a bad word like the afore-mentioned words in my 1st post?

I want to see all the banned words! If there is not a list or other banned words (that are not considered curse words), then something smells rotten.

guttle11
06-28-2005, 03:40 PM
but hey, at least she's hot ;)

Unassisted
06-28-2005, 03:42 PM
Why didn't she just substitute Lord? I agree. Surely, a good writer could have come up with enough synonyms to comply with the "letter of the law" here.

Red Leader
06-28-2005, 03:43 PM
I was given a little "lesson" on following directions in 5th grade. Our last math test of the year. Our teacher had been building this thing up for weeks telling us this was going to be the hardest test we ever took. Test day came. She passed out the test. Told us to read the directions, take our time, and turn in papers when finished. If you read the directions, the directions stated "Do not answer any of the questions, simply write your name at the top of the page, sit in your seat quietly until 2:15pm, and then get in line at the desk to hand in your paper."

I did not read the directions. I was so concerned about doing well on the test, I looked at the first problem and started working on it. It took me about 45 minutes to do the test (25 questions). I handed it in shortly before the bell rang. I got it back the next day......F. Confused, I took it home to my Dad. We worked the problems at home. All of my answers to the problems were correct. My Dad went into school with me the next day to talk to the teacher. She had him read the directions at the top of the page. He was upset about it, and told her so. He, nor I, could do anything about it, though. Those were the directions. I didn't follow them, and I failed that test (and got a B for the class as a result). I always read directions on everything to this day.

guttle11
06-28-2005, 03:43 PM
I respect that, but.... and the list of other banned words that this teacher gave to the whole class? I want to see the whole list of banned words.

Why was GOD banned? Was this a class about satanism or is it the teacher's personal views that caused him/her to ban GOD? If so, does that make GOD a bad word like the afore-mentioned words in my 1st post?

I want to see all the banned words! If there is not a list or other banned words (that are not considered curse words), then something smells rotten.

Ever heard of "seperation of church and state" I think he wanted to avoid issues with that and possible heat from the school. instead he got this :bang:

EDIT

Please disregard the above post. I didnt read the whole story, maybe she should take note

westofyou
06-28-2005, 03:43 PM
IMO the word "god" was asked to be omitted because it was an intellectual excercise to think of religion and the goverment without the deity factor influencing one's interpertation of what role the two have with each other.

Looks like she didn't get the assignment.

Falls City Beer
06-28-2005, 03:44 PM
I agree. Surely, a good writer could have come up with enough synonyms to comply with the "letter of the law" here.

And avoid redundancy! See it all works out in the end.

guttle11
06-28-2005, 03:45 PM
I was given a little "lesson" on following directions in 5th grade. Our last math test of the year. Our teacher had been building this thing up for weeks telling us this was going to be the hardest test we ever took. Test day came. She passed out the test. Told us to read the directions, take our time, and turn in papers when finished. If you read the directions, the directions stated "Do not answer any of the questions, simply write your name at the top of the page, sit in your seat quietly until 2:15pm, and then get in line at the desk to hand in your paper."

I did not read the directions. I was so concerned about doing well on the test, I looked at the first problem and started working on it. It took me about 45 minutes to do the test (25 questions). I handed it in shortly before the bell rang. I got it back the next day......F. Confused, I took it home to my Dad. We worked the problems at home. All of my answers to the problems were correct. My Dad went into school with me the next day to talk to the teacher. She had him read the directions at the top of the page. He was upset about it, and told her so. He, nor I, could do anything about it, though. Those were the directions. I didn't follow them, and I failed that test (and got a B for the class as a result). I always read directions on everything to this day. :beerme: :beerme: :beerme: :thumbup: :thumbup: :) :) :) :D :D

great post

Redsfaithful
06-28-2005, 03:45 PM
I don't loose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college

I don't know about this girl, but the author of the article should have certainly failed his/her college English class.

registerthis
06-28-2005, 03:53 PM
I respect that, but.... and the list of other banned words that this teacher gave to the whole class? I want to see the whole list of banned words.
What does it matter? What if God was the ONLY word? Could she really not write her paper without its use?


Why was GOD banned? Was this a class about satanism or is it the teacher's personal views that caused him/her to ban GOD? If so, does that make GOD a bad word like the afore-mentioned words in my 1st post?
First of all, it doesn't matter WHY it was banned--it was. She wasn't being asked to disavow her religious beliefs, only to avoid using 'God' in a term paper.

Secondly, as WoY put it, the professor was most likely trying to get the student to think about the relationship between religion and state without a deity influencing your views on it.


I want to see all the banned words! If there is not a list or other banned words (that are not considered curse words), then something smells rotten.
Would you be just as upset if the student was asked to write a paper about the effect of technology on modern society without using the word "computer"? How about the affect different modes of transportation have had on our population without using the word "automobile"?

Falls City Beer
06-28-2005, 03:53 PM
I don't know about this girl, but the author of the article should have certainly failed his/her college English class.

Now, now, she could have actually said "loose," as in "loose the dogs." Meaning that somewhere on the VV Community College campus her First Amendment rights are knocking over garbage cans and peeing on hydrants.

registerthis
06-28-2005, 03:54 PM
I don't know about this girl, but the author of the article should have certainly failed his/her college English class.
Amen. What shoddy journalism.

Johnny Footstool
06-28-2005, 05:13 PM
Maybe she should have used "YHVH," the Unutterable Name.

Yachtzee
06-28-2005, 07:00 PM
Maybe she should have used "YHVH," the Unutterable Name.

"All I said was, 'that meal was good enough for Jehovah.'"

KittyDuran
06-28-2005, 09:59 PM
I was given a little "lesson" on following directions in 5th grade. Our last math test of the year. Our teacher had been building this thing up for weeks telling us this was going to be the hardest test we ever took. Test day came. She passed out the test. Told us to read the directions, take our time, and turn in papers when finished. If you read the directions, the directions stated "Do not answer any of the questions, simply write your name at the top of the page, sit in your seat quietly until 2:15pm, and then get in line at the desk to hand in your paper."

I did not read the directions. I was so concerned about doing well on the test, I looked at the first problem and started working on it. It took me about 45 minutes to do the test (25 questions). I handed it in shortly before the bell rang. I got it back the next day......F. Confused, I took it home to my Dad. We worked the problems at home. All of my answers to the problems were correct. My Dad went into school with me the next day to talk to the teacher. She had him read the directions at the top of the page. He was upset about it, and told her so. He, nor I, could do anything about it, though. Those were the directions. I didn't follow them, and I failed that test (and got a B for the class as a result). I always read directions on everything to this day.I had the very thing happen to me in my senior year... I was so psyched about doing well on a test I didn't read the directions at the top - which said to "X" the correct answer instead of circling them - which most of the test ask for. AND my teacher also told us to read the directions. I got all of the questions right, but I circled all of them. My teacher could have failed me - but since I was the only one (or that what she said) that answered all the questions correctly she gave me a 50% or a "C". Luckily it wasn't a major test so my overall grade was not affected [I even made the dean's list that semester] but like RL I learned my lesson.

SunDeck
06-29-2005, 08:15 AM
According to what is written in the article, the instructor required her to not capitalize the word "god".


"I have one limiting factor," Shefchik wrote, according to the ACLJ. "No mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation."

The author of the article does not clearly explain that the instructor did not prohibit the word "god" uncapitalized, but instead stated that she was not allowed to use the word "God". This is just bad journalism, an attempt to lead us to the erroneous conclusion that the instructor placed an arbitrary limit on the entire word.
If I am reading this correctly, the instructions were to keep the paper objective, and if I remember grammar correctly, capitalizing the word "god" implies a different meaning than not capitalizing it. The instructor has every right in the world to make such a requirement. The whole point of English 101 is to teach people how to explore the art of writing, to gain an understanding of how the written word conveys ideas, to learn that this particular form of communication is a powerful tool which must be developed. To that end, students have to be forced out of their comfort zones, lest they be doomed to a life of writing about only that which their parents told them or what they heard from a friend. This is what college is suppost to be about, people.

That is why this is so stupid. It's not about the word "god" or "God"; it's about a student too dumb to understand that the instructor is trying to help her learn and become a more complete intellectual being. I feel sorry for her, personally. "A mind is a terrible thing to lose..."

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:42 AM
A matter of following directions? The directions of this teacher, when one wants to do a research paper on Christianity and it's effect on the development of the United States, were simply absurd!

How can you OK a paper on Christianity and then make a ridiculous stipulation saying no BIG "G" Gods that may point to any one religion? Does any one else see how laughable this is? :lol:

She acknowledges she knew her teacher's condition for writing the paper, but argued it would be impossible to write about the affect of Christianity on the development of the United States without using the word God.

I wholeheartedly agree.

That's like asking a student to write a paper about the light bulb, but don't mention Edison. Be objective. ;)

traderumor
06-29-2005, 09:04 AM
Jesus Christ was also available, Heavenly Father, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Holy one of Israel, the Creator, etc. I think she is looking for a fight instead of genuine concern for her grade. Maybe a little remembrance of "wise as serpents...harmless as doves" would have helped her to consider synonyms, but then I'm thinking there might have been an agenda at work here. More confusion about the two kingdoms again.

oneupper
06-29-2005, 09:26 AM
I was given a little "lesson" on following directions in 5th grade. Our last math test of the year. Our teacher had been building this thing up for weeks telling us this was going to be the hardest test we ever took. Test day came. She passed out the test. Told us to read the directions, take our time, and turn in papers when finished. If you read the directions, the directions stated "Do not answer any of the questions, simply write your name at the top of the page, sit in your seat quietly until 2:15pm, and then get in line at the desk to hand in your paper."

I did not read the directions. I was so concerned about doing well on the test, I looked at the first problem and started working on it. It took me about 45 minutes to do the test (25 questions). I handed it in shortly before the bell rang. I got it back the next day......F. Confused, I took it home to my Dad. We worked the problems at home. All of my answers to the problems were correct. My Dad went into school with me the next day to talk to the teacher. She had him read the directions at the top of the page. He was upset about it, and told her so. He, nor I, could do anything about it, though. Those were the directions. I didn't follow them, and I failed that test (and got a B for the class as a result). I always read directions on everything to this day.

That one has been around FOREVER! I got it in 4th or 5th grade (like 1970!)... But I was one lucky student. I didn't have a pen or pencil on me, so while I thought about who I was going to ask for one, I read the directions.

Now, just like you, I read the directions, every time!

And they say you can't learn something from a test!

registerthis
06-29-2005, 09:47 AM
A matter of following directions? The directions of this teacher, when one wants to do a research paper on Christianity and it's effect on the development of the United States, were simply absurd!
Only that wasn't the topic of her paper. The topic which the teacher approved was "Religion and its Place within the Government". And certainly she should have been able to write a paper on that topic that didn't contain the word "God." And not only did it contain the word "God", it did so over 40 times. It's a blatant disregard for the directions.


How can you OK a paper on Christianity and then make a ridiculous stipulation saying no BIG "G" Gods that may point to any one religion? Does any one else see how laughable this is? :lol:
What is laughable is her intentionally thumbing her nose at the directions of her professor, then whining to a reporter about being the victim. It's why I detest the "Christian Victim" role that so many of them like to play.


She acknowledges she knew her teacher's condition for writing the paper, but argued it would be impossible to write about the affect of Christianity on the development of the United States without using the word God.
Then she should have chosen another topic if she was unable to complete her paper within the constraints issued by her professor. This situation is entirely her making.


That's like asking a student to write a paper about the light bulb, but don't mention Edison. Be objective. ;)
No, it would be like asking a student to write about electricity and its affects on modern society, without mentioning Edison. Shouldn't be too hard. And if you couldn't do it, select another topic.

GAC
06-29-2005, 09:52 AM
Jesus Christ was also available, Heavenly Father, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Holy one of Israel, the Creator, etc. I think she is looking for a fight instead of genuine concern for her grade. Maybe a little remembrance of "wise as serpents...harmless as doves" would have helped her to consider synonyms, but then I'm thinking there might have been an agenda at work here. More confusion about the two kingdoms again.

While I agree. Do you think this teacher would have approved the paper even then if she had used such definitive terms that really single a person, such as Jesus Christ, rather then a "generic" term "God"?

What if she was a Muslim and wanted right about the effects of Islam on the development of the Middle East, and he stipulated "No mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation."

I'm so tired of this "offend argument".

But this part really confounds me...


Hauf's teacher approved her term paper topic — Religion and its Place within the Government — on one condition: Don't use the word God.

Yes. One can write this paper and not use the word "God". It's not impossible. Just silly and ridiculous. It defintely would be an incomplete paper lacking in much substance and validity though IMO. ;)

He wouldn't be able to give her a "D" because that might be construed to stand for Deity. A "C" might stand for Christ. Or an "A" for Almighty. :lol:

GAC
06-29-2005, 10:03 AM
Only that wasn't the topic of her paper. The topic which the teacher approved was "Religion and its Place within the Government". And certainly she should have been able to write a paper on that topic that didn't contain the word "God."

No one is saying it couldn't have been done. The stipulation made by the teacher is simply absurb. Why so narrow-minded and restrictive approach by this teacher? I could probably accept this teacher's stipulations if it were for some other reason (scholastic, etc); but - "He said it would offend others in class"

That's scholarly. :rolleyes:

registerthis
06-29-2005, 10:12 AM
No one is saying it couldn't have been done. The stipulation made by the teacher is simply absurb. Why so narrow-minded and restrictive approach by this teacher? I could probably accept this teacher's stipulations if it were for some other reason (scholastic, etc); but - "He said it would offend others in class"

That's scholarly. :rolleyes:
Well, as has been postulated by others on this thread, most likely it was because he didn't want her examination of the topic to be influenced by her belief in the Christian God, as an examination of religion and its place within government would surely extend beyond the constraints of a study of Christianity and the U.S. government.

Besides, as has been pointed out here numerous times (by myself and others), no one was forcing her to write on this topic. If she found the instructions too constraining, she could have easily selected another topic.

RANDY IN INDY
06-29-2005, 10:27 AM
How many other people were going to read the paper to be offended by it? Pretty obvious to me that the only person offended was the person that had to read and grade the paper. So what if she used the word "God" in her paper on religion. I don't think it was going to change anyone's opinion on the topic. I agree with GAC. Silly and ridiculous. Very petty. Plenty of students write a lot of term papers that are controversial in nature. I'm sure this one is not the first one that this instructor has read. Was the paper well written and of substance? That should be the reason for the excercise and the only reason to grade it, one way or another.

Chip R
06-29-2005, 10:40 AM
It may be silly and ridiculous but those were the rules that the teacher set down in advance. Anyone can write a paper about religion and mention God. But it takes a lot of thought and effort to do it and not mention God. It'd be like trying to write something without using "a" or "the". Yeah, it's silly and ridiculous but it makes you think.

traderumor
06-29-2005, 10:43 AM
Imagine. A college professor being petty and ridiculous. I never encountered that at tOSU ;)

savafan
06-29-2005, 10:43 AM
What is laughable is her intentionally thumbing her nose at the directions of her professor, then whining to a reporter about being the victim. It's why I detest the "Christian Victim" role that so many of them like to play.




What is truly laughable is liberal college professors forcing their views on students on college campuses all across this country. You can't disagree with their views if you want to pass the class.

From where I'm sitting, instructors in a state or community educational institution establishing their beliefs and views above all others is a violation of the seperation of church and state.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 10:44 AM
Yeah, it's silly and ridiculous but it makes you think.

Outside of your own reality.

And that's what teaching is all about.

savafan
06-29-2005, 10:45 AM
How many other people were going to read the paper to be offended by it?

I'd also like to know how many other people in that class were restricted with what words they could use in their papers.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 10:47 AM
I'd also like to know how many other people in that class were restricted with what words they could use in their papers.
They all were ... they all couldn't use the word God.

It's an intellectual exercise.... it's what they do in college.

traderumor
06-29-2005, 10:57 AM
This actually has nothing to do with the freedom of speech and/or the freedom from governmental interference in the exercise of religion. It has to do with following the rules. There are a lot of things being done that single out the freedom to express Christian ideals in the marketplace of ideas, but this is one of the lamer cases I've seen. I can't understand why the ACLJ is wasting resources on it, to be honest. The ACLU has no interest because no rights were violated. She deserved to be marked down as spelled out in the instructions.

registerthis
06-29-2005, 10:58 AM
What is truly laughable is liberal college professors forcing their views on students on college campuses all across this country. You can't disagree with their views if you want to pass the class.
So...she had to subscribe to the belief that there is no God?

Or, she only had to write a paper about religion that didn't use the word "God." That isn't forcing your views on anything.


From where I'm sitting, instructors in a state or community educational institution establishing their beliefs and views above all others is a violation of the seperation of church and state.
I would agree if that's what he was doing. He wasn't.

Again, I ask (since no one answered the first two times it was brought up): Would people be this up-in-arms about unfair constraints if the student was writing about the effect of technology in our world, and was forbidden from using the word "computer"? What if the student was to write about the profound effect of differing modes of transportation without using the word "car"? How about th role of electricity in our society,without mentioning "light bulb"?

But I keep forgetting, the world is out to get the Christian, and this is just another example of that.

savafan
06-29-2005, 11:08 AM
Again, I ask (since no one answered the first two times it was brought up): Would people be this up-in-arms about unfair constraints if the student was writing about the effect of technology in our world, and was forbidden from using the word "computer"? What if the student was to write about the profound effect of differing modes of transportation without using the word "car"? How about th role of electricity in our society,without mentioning "light bulb"?



No. I asked how many other people in the class were restricted with what words they could use in their papers and westofyou said:


They all were ... they all couldn't use the word God.

It's an intellectual exercise.... it's what they do in college.

Well, that doesn't work for me. If another student was writing a report on the effect of technology in our world and wasn't allowed to use the word "God", I doubt that would make much difference to them. Or a report about the profound effect of differing modes of transportation without use of the word "God" is a rather silly limitation. Here's the thing. If she's the only person singled out, then it's wrong. And if she is, then it is a case of a liberal professor trying to further his beliefs.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 11:14 AM
Well, that doesn't work for me

Then don't take the class.

bucknutdet
06-29-2005, 11:18 AM
West of You,

You have no proof that was the case, simply guessing.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 11:21 AM
West of You,

You have no proof that was the case, simply guessing.

You're right, I read it that that was the criteria for "her" paper, I thought the whole class.

Still doesn't change the fact that she dropped the ball on the assignments rules.

registerthis
06-29-2005, 11:29 AM
This actually has nothing to do with the freedom of speech and/or the freedom from governmental interference in the exercise of religion. It has to do with following the rules. There are a lot of things being done that single out the freedom to express Christian ideals in the marketplace of ideas, but this is one of the lamer cases I've seen. I can't understand why the ACLJ is wasting resources on it, to be honest. The ACLU has no interest because no rights were violated. She deserved to be marked down as spelled out in the instructions.
Hear, hear.

This is all that needs to be said on the matter.

Reds/Flyers Fan
06-29-2005, 11:33 AM
The problem is banning the word "God" in a community college English class. It's an absurd rule and probably wouldn't be applied evenly with the banning of words such as "Koran" or "Allah," should that situation have presented itself.

Just another pitiful example of the increasing attempt to secularize America in the same vein as banning Christmas carols in public squares or insisting on the phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Finally, since this college proffesor is so vehement in his denial of God in a public forum such as a community college, perhaps he has similar problems with the phrase "In God We Trust" on his American currency. If so, I would be happy to take those bills off his hands so he won't have to see that silly G-word anymore.

SunDeck
06-29-2005, 11:45 AM
What is truly laughable is liberal college professors forcing their views on students on college campuses all across this country. You can't disagree with their views if you want to pass the class.


I majored in political science, specialized in Middle Eastern Studies. We had two very prominant faculty members, one a Palestinian scholar and the other a former Nixon aide and well respected jewish professor. These guys defined the word "biased", but after having taken their classes I never once felt that my grade depended on my views. Why? Because I understood that they were intellectuals, who valued the strength of one's argument over the position taken. I never feared crossing their political bows because I knew they would judge me on my ability to make a point and not on whether I agreed with their world view. Each of them was very hard on their students, those who were in their camp and those who weren't. They demanded deep thinking and probing analysis rather than slogans and rhetoric. What you wrote didn't matter to them as much as the work you had put into it; they were trying to get us all ready for our careers.

I have read a few articles about liberal professors shoving their ideology down students' throats, failing them when they disagree and I always reflect upon my time in college when fellow students said the same thing about these two professors, one a right wing conservative and the other a former PLO advisor.

RedFanAlways1966
06-29-2005, 12:02 PM
The problem is banning the word "God" in a community college English class. It's an absurd rule and probably wouldn't be applied evenly with the banning of words such as "Koran" or "Allah," should that situation have presented itself.

Just another pitiful example of the increasing attempt to secularize America in the same vein as banning Christmas carols in public squares or insisting on the phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Finally, since this college proffesor is so vehement in his denial of God in a public forum such as a community college, perhaps he has similar problems with the phrase "In God We Trust" on his American currency. If so, I would be happy to take those bills off his hands so he won't have to see that silly G-word anymore.

Nicely put. This is all that needs to be said on the matter. :thumbup:

registerthis
06-29-2005, 12:24 PM
Nicely put. This is all that needs to be said on the matter. :thumbup:
No it isn't, because it fails to address three VERY IMPORTANT questions regarding this matter:

-Why the student failed to follow the concise instructions of the professor,
-Why, if she was convinced that she would be unable to write such a paper without using the word "God", she didn't attempt to work something out with her professor in advance, rather than blatantly disregarding his instructions, and
-Why, if she felt that she would be unable to comply with the contraints put in place by the professor, she didn't choose to write on a different topic.


Just another pitiful example of the increasing attempt to secularize America in the same vein as banning Christmas carols in public squares or insisting on the phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
They're not comparable at all. Here, a professor laid out very explicit instructions about one word-"God"-that could not be used in a paper discussing religion's role in government. She wasn't told that she couldn't invoke Christianity, religious beliefs, or even Jesus, for that matter.

If you would like a Biblical example, consider this student to be like Eve in the Garden of Eden. God says, eat from any tree you wish, except that one over there. And yet Eve decided to eat specifically from that tree anyway, and she paid a price for it--she didn't follow instructions. Such is the case here.

traderumor
06-29-2005, 12:28 PM
The problem is banning the word "God" in a community college English class. It's an absurd rule and probably wouldn't be applied evenly with the banning of words such as "Koran" or "Allah," should that situation have presented itself.

Just another pitiful example of the increasing attempt to secularize America in the same vein as banning Christmas carols in public squares or insisting on the phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Finally, since this college proffesor is so vehement in his denial of God in a public forum such as a community college, perhaps he has similar problems with the phrase "In God We Trust" on his American currency. If so, I would be happy to take those bills off his hands so he won't have to see that silly G-word anymore.The word wasn't banned in the class, it just wasn't allowed to be included in this person's paper as a part of the assignment. If it unjustly singled her out when other students were allowed to write religious papers, with proper noun references to their deity, then she might have a case. But no one seems to be arguing that, including the attorneys for the plaintiff. They are arguing "free speech" and "freedom of religion" which neither seem to apply in the context of this case. Frivolous lawsuit if you ask me.

RedFanAlways1966
06-29-2005, 12:53 PM
No it isn't, because it fails to address three VERY IMPORTANT questions regarding this matter:

-Why the student failed to follow the concise instructions of the professor,
-Why, if she was convinced that she would be unable to write such a paper without using the word "God", she didn't attempt to work something out with her professor in advance, rather than blatantly disregarding his instructions, and
-Why, if she felt that she would be unable to comply with the contraints put in place by the professor, she didn't choose to write on a different topic.


And we all make conclusions based on what we have read. Do we know anything about the professor? Is the professor some sort of anti-religion nut? Would this be national headlines story of the same story had been told, but a Muslim could not use certain words (you had better believe it) that pertain to his/her religion? We "postulate" on what we MIGHT think is right...

What is wrong with "God"? If she had used Lord, would it be okay? If so, what is the diff? I will agree that the girl was hardheaded. But is there more to the prof than what is being told? We don't know, but we can postulate on these things like those who postulate on the opposite side of this argument.

Chip R
06-29-2005, 01:01 PM
And we all make conclusions based on what we have read. Do we know anything about the professor? Is the professor some sort of anti-religion nut? Would this be national headlines story of the same story had been told, but a Muslim could not use certain words (you had better believe it) that pertain to his/her religion? We "postulate" on what we MIGHT think is right...
All that is irrelevant. It doesn't matter if the instructor went to church 7 days a week or was a devil worshiper. He said specifically that the student - and since his reason was that others in the class may be offended - others couldn't use it either if they had a similar topic. Bottom line is that the instructor said God couldn't be mentioned but the student did it anyway.


What is wrong with "God"? If she had used Lord, would it be okay? If so, what is the diff? I will agree that the girl was hardheaded. But is there more to the prof than what is being told? We don't know, but we can postulate on these things like those who postulate on the opposite side of this argument.If the instructor said it was wrong then it was wong in that context. Just as schools can ban clothing that has certain words or phrases on it, this instructor could say that using the word "God" in a term paper dealing with religion was not acceptable to him.

Crash Davis
06-29-2005, 01:07 PM
Yeah, it's silly and ridiculous but it makes you think.


Outside of your own reality.

And that's what teaching is all about.

Half the people on this thread just aren't getting this...

And there's really nothing more that needs to be explained about this article.

registerthis
06-29-2005, 01:07 PM
And we all make conclusions based on what we have read. Do we know anything about the professor? Is the professor some sort of anti-religion nut?
SO what if he is? This story doesn't tell us whether he is or isn't. The professor's personal beliefs are a straw man in this argument--the crux of the issue is, were his demands unreasonable? And if so, why didn't she write on another topic?


Would this be national headlines story of the same story had been told, but a Muslim could not use certain words (you had better believe it) that pertain to his/her religion? We "postulate" on what we MIGHT think is right...
I can very easily envision a scenario where a Muslim student wished to write about the role of Islam in governments in the Middle East, and the prof would say to do it without invoking the name of Allah.


What is wrong with "God"?
Nothing, on the face value of it. But in the context of this particular paper, the prof didn't want the word "God" to be used.


If she had used Lord, would it be okay? If so, what is the diff?
My guess is, probably not. based upon the fact that the prof explicitly stated he didn't want "Capital-G God" to appear, he meant a discussion specifically on the Christian God. Since her topic was quite broad--the role of religion in government--it needed to be discussed in general terms.

I would also purport to say that invoking Allah, Yahweh or other similar deities would have been frowned upon as well. I would ALSO purport to say that the student most likely inquired about writing the topic from a strictly Christian perspective, which is why the prof didn't want "God" included.


I will agree that the girl was hardheaded. But is there more to the prof than what is being told? We don't know, but we can postulate on these things like those who postulate on the opposite side of this argument.
You can think what you will about the prof, but I would argue that whatever his personal feelings were, it is a moot point. Were his demands unreasonable? Could she not possibly write a paper about her chosen topic without invoking the word "God"? Could she not have done it without invoking the word "God" 41 times?

If this had been any other topic besides religion, we wouldn't even be discussing it. Only due to the fact that Christianity is involved is this perceived as an attack on free speech.

registerthis
06-29-2005, 01:08 PM
Half the people on this thread just aren't getting this...

And there's really nothing more that needs to be explained about this article.
Yep. After my post above, I think I'm done, because I've repeated myself 6-7 times now...

Redsfaithful
06-29-2005, 01:09 PM
It amazes me that there are so many Christians in America. What with all the persecution and everything.

RFS62
06-29-2005, 01:13 PM
Hope this doesn't offend anyone, but it seems pretty simple to me.

The teacher gave her an assignment with very specific instructions.

She chose not to follow those instructions.

She fails.

Sounds to me like she's looking for attention to further her cause.

Puffy
06-29-2005, 01:25 PM
Hope this doesn't offend anyone, but it seems pretty simple to me.

The teacher gave her an assignment with very specific instructions.

She chose not to follow those instructions.

She fails.

Sounds to me like she's looking for attention to further her cause.

Not only that, but I think by using the word "God" 41 times she was specifically thumbing her nose at the instructions, in order to get attention.

M2
06-29-2005, 01:44 PM
Wow, this one's giving me flashbacks. Back when I was in grad school I taught freshman composition. The final assignment was a five-page research paper. Students had the freedom to pick their topics, though I had to approve them.

One female student chose home schooling. Not surprisingly she had been home schooled prior to college. I approved the topic, but I warned her that I didn't want it to be a self-affirmation piece where she went on about how she personally benefitted from home schooling nor did I want it to read like a sermon on how morally corrupt the public school system is. I told her I expected detailed research about the numbers of kids being home schooled and how they perform when they enter the formal education system at the collegiate level. I practically knocked myself over stressing that this was a research paper and not a statement of her personal religious beliefs and that she was getting an F- if she handed me a statement of her personal religious beliefs.

Quick background, I'd urged her to the drop the course earlier in the semester. She was functionally illiterate, had missed or botched every assignment I'd given and needed an A on the final paper in order to pass the course. I urged her to get remedial tutoring so that she could stay in college. Smiling, she always smiled, she ignored me.

Also, I had students submitting their drafts, outlines and thesis statements to me during the writing process. She never once submitted these to me, even when it was a requirement listed on the syllabus. I pulled her aside after class twice and told her that it didn't bode well for her that she was missing these deadlines and that she stood a much better chance of getting the grade she needed to pass the course if I had the chance to make sure she was on the right track prior to the final submission. She smiled.

Anyway, you can guess what I got, a rambling, often incoherent tract about her personal experiences being home schooled and about her personal views on religion. Even if I had assigned that to her, she'd have gotten an F because it was so poorly written (she didn't know basic subject-verb agreement) and lacked even so much as the germ of well-considered point of view. She did no research, though she did invent a few numbers and insist that everyone who got home schooled was a better student than those who weren't.

She got her F on the paper and F for the course. Then she and her parents turned up in the college president's office two days later insisting I'd infringed on her religious freedoms. We set up a meeting for the next day with a bunch of high-level muckety-mucks. I came loaded for bear. I went to her other professors and discovered she was failing every course she'd taken. I also had a portfolio of her writing over the semester. The research paper had been copied and sent to everyone in the meeting. The long and short of it was that I got a big pat on the back and she got put on academic probation (one semester later she got expelled).

Chip R
06-29-2005, 01:57 PM
When I was in college I took an American history class. We had to do term papers and since this class mainly dealt with 19th century history the prof said that any topic was acceptable except about the Alamo because he was sick of reading about it. My paper was about the Republic of Texas. When I turned my topic in naturally he was concerned that it would be about the Alamo. I told him I would barely mention it and he OKed it. I wrote the paper, wrote maybe 1 or 2 paragraphs about the Alamo and I got either an A or a B on the paper.

I wonder if anyone who wanted to write about the Alamo in that class should have investigated that prof to see if he had any Mexican heritage. Or if he was prejudiced against Texans.

zombie-a-go-go
06-29-2005, 02:11 PM
What?

She has a husband?

Meh, I don't care about the rest of this article. Stupid lawsuit, stupid topic.

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 02:16 PM
Can I just applaud traderumor for looking through the fallacious and kneejerk arguments and seeing this situation for what it is, which is not an issue of abridgement of free speech or an unjust application of "secular" rules, but a criterion for a class paper.

The man gets a :thumbup: from across the aisle.

traderumor
06-29-2005, 02:24 PM
Can I just applaud traderumor for looking through the fallacious and kneejerk arguments and seeing this situation for what it is, which is not an issue of abridgement of free speech or an unjust application of "secular" rules, but a criterion for a class paper.

The man gets a :thumbup: from across the aisle.Aw, shucks :redface:
Seriously, that does mean a lot since we hardly agree on these issues.

One thing I think we do agree on is that I do not consider this a "Chreestyun Nation" anymore than you do, nor do I think it is desirable to seek it as such.

RosieRed
06-29-2005, 02:32 PM
Given her topic -- "Religion and its Place within the Government" -- I don't think the parameters set by the prof were hard to follow at all. There's no need, IMO, to discuss or name specific deities in such a paper. She easily could have used "religion" or "one's beliefs" or some other generic term, instead of God. Seems the prof meant for her to speak about religion in the abstract and its place in government, not God's place in government.

I don't see anything wrong with what he did. Just my opinion.

GAC
06-29-2005, 05:20 PM
Well, as has been postulated by others on this thread, most likely it was because he didn't want her examination of the topic to be influenced by her belief in the Christian God, as an examination of religion and its place within government would surely extend beyond the constraints of a study of Christianity and the U.S. government.

If the topic was in reference to human government in any shape or form, then yes, she needed to be more objective. But according to the article it appears to have been particualrly about the role of religion on America's government. And what other "God" (or religion for that matter) has had influence on the forming of this nation and it's government since it's inception? To say that one cannot make references to God with a big "G" (which I just laugh at those instructions, coming from an institution of higher learning), is simply absurd -"Lets talk about religion and it's influences on American government - oh yeah, don't mention any god with a BIG "G". Then what god can we mention them teacher?


Besides, as has been pointed out here numerous times (by myself and others), no one was forcing her to write on this topic. If she found the instructions too constraining, she could have easily selected another topic.

And again - I understand that no one was forcing her to write on this topic. But in an institution of higher learning, how can one write a research paper on "Religion and its Place within the Government", and then place "one limiting factor" -No mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation?

Why would a teacher place such a ridiculous stipulation on it? You, and others, want to give them this easy-out excuse "Well, those werre the rules". Convenient.

I'd simply like to hear from this teacher, and that English department, a greater explanation as to why this stipulation was made to begin with. But they aren't talking. So therfore, due to their silence, it leaves it open to assumption.

There only revealed reasoning? - it might offend. If that is their sole reasoning, then that is simply ridiculous.

After listening to arguments on here for some time, I guess she should have turned in a blank sheet then, because there is no place for religion within government with that "separation of church and state" thingy. :lol:

Jesus Freak
06-29-2005, 06:05 PM
I believe this violates her freedom of speech. Did the professor tell every student not to use a certain word in their paper, or was he just telling this young lady not to use a certain word? With his response about the Easter Bunny, it sounds like he simply does not believe in God so he instructed her not to write about Him.

I'm sure he has no problem spending his money which says "In God We Trust." Maybe we should put the easter Bunny on our money too.

Chip R
06-29-2005, 06:21 PM
I believe this violates her freedom of speech. Did the professor tell every student not to use a certain word in their paper, or was he just telling this young lady not to use a certain word? With his response about the Easter Bunny, it sounds like he simply does not believe in God so he instructed her not to write about Him.

I'm sure he has no problem spending his money which says "In God We Trust." Maybe we should put the easter Bunny on our money too.
So, did my professor violate my fellow classmates and my freedom of speech rights by telling us that we couldn't do any papers on the Alamo?

The professor said it might be offensive to others in the class so it stands to reason others couldn't do it either.

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 06:23 PM
I believe this violates her freedom of speech. Did the professor tell every student not to use a certain word in their paper, or was he just telling this young lady not to use a certain word? With his response about the Easter Bunny, it sounds like he simply does not believe in God so he instructed her not to write about Him.

I'm sure he has no problem spending his money which says "In God We Trust." Maybe we should put the easter Bunny on our money too.

Real easy.

She doesn't have to take that class.

The teacher makes the rules.

Jesus Freak
06-29-2005, 06:33 PM
So, did my professor violate my fellow classmates and my freedom of speech rights by telling us that we couldn't do any papers on the Alamo?

The professor said it might be offensive to others in the class so it stands to reason others couldn't do it either.

Did this professor tell all of the students as a group that their papers could not use the word God, or just her individually? If he singled her out because of a topic he does not agree with, he violated her freedom of speech.

I have taught and continue to teach college courses, and I have not agreed with all of the topics my students have written about. The point of a research paper if to learn how to do research, write up the research, and integrate your own thoughts with the research.

The standards I set for my classes research papers apply to everyone. For example, I tell all of my students if the paper does not meet the minimum page requirement, they automatically get a zero. I do not regulate specific variable in the topic. One student of mine wrote a paper and gave a presentation against affirmative action, a topic I'm sure offended some in the class.

The issue to me isn't the criteria itself. if he told all of the students, that's one thing. If I was doing a research paper on the Holcaust, it might offend people as well.

pedro
06-29-2005, 06:39 PM
Did this professor tell all of the students as a group that their papers could not use the word God, or just her individually? If he singled her out because of a topic he does not agree with, he violated her freedom of speech.

I have taught and continue to teach college courses, and I have not agreed with all of the topics my students have written about. The point of a research paper if to learn how to do research, write up the research, and integrate your own thoughts with the research.

The standards I set for my classes research papers apply to everyone. For example, I tell all of my students if the paper does not meet the minimum page requirement, they automatically get a zero. I do not regulate specific variable in the topic. One student of mine wrote a paper and gave a presentation against affirmative action, a topic I'm sure offended some in the class.

The issue to me isn't the criteria itself. if he told all of the students, that's one thing. If I was doing a research paper on the Holcaust, it might offend people as well.

I don't agree that he had to tell everyone they couldn't use the word "God".

The students picked their own topics and the teacher had the authority to approve or disapprove of the topic.

The first amendment doesn't cover homework assignments.

Chip R
06-29-2005, 06:43 PM
Did this professor tell all of the students as a group that their papers could not use the word God, or just her individually? If he singled her out because of a topic he does not agree with, he violated her freedom of speech.

Why don't you read the article? The student said in there as plain as day that the instructor felt the word would be offensive to others in the class. That isn't singling anyone out.


I have taught and continue to teach college courses, and I have not agreed with all of the topics my students have written about. The point of a research paper if to learn how to do research, write up the research, and integrate your own thoughts with the research.

The standards I set for my classes research papers apply to everyone. For example, I tell all of my students if the paper does not meet the minimum page requirement, they automatically get a zero. I do not regulate specific variable in the topic. One student of mine wrote a paper and gave a presentation against affirmative action, a topic I'm sure offended some in the class.

The issue to me isn't the criteria itself. if he told all of the students, that's one thing. If I was doing a research paper on the Holcaust, it might offend people as well.
So aren't you violating their freedom of speech rights by having such rules? Using your criteria you are doing just that.

If a student was doing a presentation on the Holocaust and you asked the student to not show any photos of the concentration camp victims because it might upset some of the students in the class and they did it anyway what grade would you give them?

Jesus Freak
06-29-2005, 07:05 PM
If a student was doing a presentation on the Holocaust and you asked the student to not show any photos of the concentration camp victims because it might upset some of the students in the class and they did it anyway what grade would you give them?

I wouldn't tell them that they could not use any pictures. They could use as many pictures as they would like. It would not effect their grade in a negative way at all.

SteelSD
06-29-2005, 08:10 PM
If the topic was in reference to human government in any shape or form, then yes, she needed to be more objective. But according to the article it appears to have been particualrly about the role of religion on America's government. And what other "God" (or religion for that matter) has had influence on the forming of this nation and it's government since it's inception? To say that one cannot make references to God with a big "G" (which I just laugh at those instructions, coming from an institution of higher learning), is simply absurd -"Lets talk about religion and it's influences on American government - oh yeah, don't mention any god with a BIG "G". Then what god can we mention them teacher?

Couldn't she have written a paper talking about the influence of religion without broaching the subject of monotheism?

Yes. Yes, she could have.

The professor set down a reasonable expectation that she could not do what she did, but she did it anyway.

What's amazing to me about this topic is that the professor is being positioned by some as intolerent and inappropriate when he was acting in a manner consistent with tolerance and appropriately defined the assignment for the student in advance.

He didn't fail to give his student direction and then simply slap an "F" on the paper because he didn't like the word. The student failed her assignment because she didn't complete the assignment within the clearly outlined parameters. She was even given a very clear "out" and could have chosen to revise her paper to avoid receiving a failing grade.

This 34-year-old adult was specifically instructed to avoid the topic of monotheism. She failed to do so. She flunked the assignment because of it. Such is life.

Chip R
06-29-2005, 08:25 PM
I wouldn't tell them that they could not use any pictures. They could use as many pictures as they would like. It would not effect their grade in a negative way at all.But that's not what I said. I said IF you told them that. Purely hypothetical. I don't know how you run your classes. I don't know whether you would or would not have that kind of a rule. You said you had some rules so let's just say that you added that rule to your set of rules. Student comes in and says, "Hey, Professor Jesus Freak, I'd like to do my presentation on the Holocaust and show some video of concentration camp victims." Now you may have reason to believe that a few students in your class may be emotionally upset by those pictures. Maybe one of them had grandparents that perished in the camps. So you think it may not be a good idea if that student showed that kind of video. They can show the camps and soldiers and the trains they put them in. Anything but the victims. So you tell that student, "Sounds like a good idea but I'm afraid that some of that footage may upset some of your classmates so I do not want you to show any footage of victims." Come presentation time the student defies your authority, goes against your wishes, breaks your rule and does it anyway. The presentation was fine except for the footage of the victims. So do you tell them that was a wonderful presentation and they get an A+ for the presentation or do you give them a lower grade because they went against your rule?

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:30 PM
What's amazing to me about this topic is that the professor is being positioned by some as intolerent and inappropriate when he was acting in a manner consistent with tolerance and appropriately defined the assignment for the student in advance.

Nowhere did I imply that this professor was intolerant. I have no idea what this professor, or this English department feels. They won't talk. I'm not saying they are God-hating atheists or anything like that. I would simply like to know WHY they set such a restrictive parameter? To simply say because you want to be tolerant or don't want to offend is simply ridiculous and insufficient reasoning IMO. And as I stated earlier - to not go into greater detail to explain that type of reasoning does promote assumptions and accusations.


He didn't fail to give his student direction and then simply slap an "F" on the paper because he didn't like the word. The student failed her assignment because she didn't complete the assignment within the clearly outlined parameters. She was even given a very clear "out" and could have chosen to revise her paper to avoid receiving a failing grade.

It's not about her being give an "F". We all understand that this teacher set specific instructions and guidelines and she failed to do so. That's understood.

Why the exclusion? Maybe the teacher should have done a better job explaining in greater detail as to why he didn't want monotheism included? Did he do that? Again - tolerance is a flimsy excuse. Are college students, when doing research and writing papers for an English Lit class always suppose to remember to practice political correctness? Some of the greatest writings/research in literature ever written was not politically correct or tolerant, and challenged established ruules and thought. That thought was squelched in this instance IMO, and for very poor reasons. And why shouldn't monotheism be included in a comprehensive and thorough study of the subject matter at hand?

I hope both parties learn from this experience IMO.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:41 PM
Again, I ask (since no one answered the first two times it was brought up): Would people be this up-in-arms about unfair constraints if the student was writing about the effect of technology in our world, and was forbidden from using the word "computer"? What if the student was to write about the profound effect of differing modes of transportation without using the word "car"? How about th role of electricity in our society,without mentioning "light bulb"?


We can come up with these silly analogies all we want. How about writng one on computer software development and not mentioning Bill Gates or Microsoft? Or the development of the automobile assembly line and leaving out Henry Ford?

The point is, it would be some pretty incomplete research when you leave out such important and influential variables. So why do it if you want the research and results to be as comprehensive as possible?

You're asking someone to come to or form a hypothesis or conclusion and then restricting the material that is very relevant to the subject matter. That is all I'm saying.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:44 PM
They all were ... they all couldn't use the word God.

It's an intellectual exercise.... it's what they do in college.

And of course in your thinking, God and intellect are like oil and water right? :rolleyes:

Reminds me of these words of the apostle Paul to all these "intellectuals"...

"The foolishness of God is wiser then men; and the weakness of God is stronger then men."

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 08:47 PM
We can come up with these silly analogies all we want. How about writng one on computer software development and not mentioning Bill Gates or Microsoft? Or the development of the automobile assembly line and leaving out Henry Ford?

The point is, it would be some pretty incomplete research when you leave out such important and influential variables. So why do it if you want the research and results to be as comprehensive as possible?

You're asking someone to come to or form a hypothesis or conclusion and then restricting the material that is very relevant to the subject matter. That is all I'm saying.

Those aren't silly analogies; they're completely consonant and fair comparisons.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 08:47 PM
And of course in your thinking, God and intellect are like oil and water right?

Oh please.... go find someone else to stone.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:48 PM
Those aren't silly analogies; they're completely consonant and fair comparisons.

Resulting in incomplete results when important variables are ignored and excluded. Wouldn't you want your research to be as comprehensive as possible. That is objectivity IMO.

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 08:52 PM
Resulting in incomplete results when important variables are ignored and excluded. Wouldn't you want your research to be as comprehensive as possible. That is objectivity IMO.

Incomplete results?

Huh?

Maybe she should be allowed to orally present her paper. Or no, write it in crayon. About Fraggles--cuz she worships Fraggles. She should make the rules, right?

Where does it end? Shouldn't assignments have parameters as well as frontiers?

You are in one uphill battle, GAC.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:53 PM
Oh please.... go find someone else to stone.

Where's the funny picture? You usually post a funny picture in response :lol:

You throw plenty of stones whenever the discussion is religious in nature.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 08:55 PM
Where's the funny picture? You usually post a funny picture in response :lol:

You throw plenty of stones whenever the discussion is religious in nature.

Nice try to bait me, I didn't ever mention religion, just the assignment. But keep trolling away. I'm hip to what you're attempting.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:55 PM
Incomplete results?

Huh?

Maybe she should be allowed to orally present her paper. Or no, write it in crayon. About Fraggles--cuz she worships Fraggles. She should make the rules, right?

Where does it end? Shouldn't assignments have parameters as well as frontiers?

You are in one uphill battle, GAC.

You're not blowin anyone out of the water with the Fraggle argument. :lol:

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 08:57 PM
You're not blowin anyone out of the water with the Fraggle argument. :lol:

I bet Fraggles understand that the teacher (and not the student) makes the assignment and the class rules.

GAC
06-29-2005, 08:59 PM
Nice try to bait me, I diodn't ever mention religion, just the assignment. But kepp trolling away. I'm hip to what you're attempting.

Now I'm a troll because I disagree with your remark and call you on it?

You troll on religious discussion threads as much as anyone with your pithy remarks.

Add something of relevance to the discussion at hand.

RosieRed
06-29-2005, 09:03 PM
You're asking someone to come to or form a hypothesis or conclusion and then restricting the material that is very relevant to the subject matter. That is all I'm saying.

No. Not in this case. Her paper was to be on "Religion and its Place within the Government."

It's quite easy to discuss religion's place within the government without using the word God.

God is not the subject of the paper; religion is. The student was in no way restricted as to what materials she used to form her hypothesis or conclusion.

westofyou
06-29-2005, 09:03 PM
Add something of relevance to the discussion at hand.


I did.

It's an intellectual exercise.... it's what they do in college.

Sorry you found it "pithy"

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 09:07 PM
GAC, you put words in WOY's mouth, and he called you on it. Simple as that.

GAC
06-29-2005, 09:13 PM
No. Not in this case. Her paper was to be on "Religion and its Place within the Government."

It's quite easy to discuss religion's place within the government without using the word God.

God is not the subject of the paper; religion is. The student was in no way restricted as to what materials she used to form her hypothesis or conclusion.

I understand that Rosie. But who is the center/focus of religion? What does it involve around? Especially the religion that played a role in our government?

All I've asked was why was this teacher being so restrictive? What was the reasoning for doing so? What was the end result that they desired?

Tolerance or not wanting to offend is a very flimsy excuse. Was this a creative writing class?

I've never said that the actions of this girl were right or just. Nor that she should have ran and got a lawyer because her constitutional rights were violated. I don't see, nor agree, with that.

I just would like to know why one would be so exclusive in this situation?

What harm would have been inflicted by allowing references to monotheism in her research? That is all I am asking.

GAC
06-29-2005, 09:25 PM
GAC, you put words in WOY's mouth, and he called you on it. Simple as that.

No. He seemed to imply that college is a place for intellectual discussion and therefore it is not place for God within that framework.

If that is not what he meant, then I apologize. But I didn't appreciate the stone thrower reference, that's all.

These discussions can be kept on an even keel without resorting to that. We've done a pretty good job on here without making demeaning remarks and name calling.

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 09:29 PM
No. He seemed to imply that college is a place for intellectual discussion and therefore it is not place for God within that framework.


No, YOU added the statement "therefore it is not a place for God within that framework." He didn't imply anything. YOU inferred it.

Reds/Flyers Fan
06-29-2005, 09:31 PM
Half the people on this thread just aren't getting this...

And there's really nothing more that needs to be explained about this article.

Just because someone doesn't agree with a particular point of view doesn't mean that she/he isn't "getting this."

I agree that this student failed to follow the "rules" as they were given to her. But, just possibly, she didn't follow rules that apparently singled her out based upon her viewpoint and the points she was trying to make in her term paper.

Here's some of what we know:

• This was a college-level English class

• The assignment was a term paper

• The term paper's approved topic was "Religion and its place within the government"

• The approval was apparently based upon the condition that the author refrain from using the word "God."

Granted, she broke that condition 41 times. But my question is why was that even a condition in the first place? That needs to be explored and I think that it's the primary reason (not her grade) why this story has garnered attention and ruffled some feathers.

How can a teacher approve a topic such as "Religion and its place within the government" but then effectively bind the author's hands by significantly reducing her ability to argue or make her points? It's like approving a term paper on "Professional baseball and its place in Cincinnati" but then banning the word "Reds."

Were other students given similar handicaps for their papers? If not, why? If Prof. Shefchik was using this rule on a class-wide basis to boost the assignment's difficulty factor, then I have no problem with the ban. If, on the other hand, Ms. Hauf was unique in receiving the ban then there is a definite problem. It screams of reverse favoritism and a religious bias on the part of the professor. And that, I feel, is the issue here.

Did she deserve to fail the paper based on the assignment's guidelines? Yes. Were the guidelines inappropriate, discriminatory and unfair? IMO, also yes.

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 09:42 PM
Were the guidelines inappropriate, discriminatory and unfair? IMO, yes.

We don't know this, because the article doesn't say this, but I would be willing to wager that the teacher would have told anyone in the class who asked for special permission to use the word "God" in her/his paper a big fat "No."

A few questions to you now: should papers and essays have parameters? Yes or no.

If the answer is yes, then,

Which parameters are fair, appropriate, non-discriminatory? Which aren't? Why? I'm genuinely curious.

Redsfaithful
06-29-2005, 09:51 PM
I'm amazed that evangelical Christians ever graduate from secular universities, if this woman is typical of the group.

Reds/Flyers Fan
06-29-2005, 09:53 PM
A few questions to you now: should papers and essays have parameters? Yes or no.

If the answer is yes, then,

Which parameters are fair, appropriate, discriminatory? Which aren't? Why? I'm genuinely curious.

Yes they should have parameters. But one student shouldn't be alone in facing those parameters when the rest of the class has carte blanche on the same assignment.

Of course, we don't know if that's the case - the article failed to make it clear. If, for example, another student's paper focused on "Acid rain in Upstate New York" and Prof. Shefchik approved the topic on the condition that the word "pollution" wasn't used, that's fine. And it would explain the "God" ban. But for a student to be the only one to face parameters when her paper deals with religion - a touchy subject, unfortunately, for many of America's left-leaning college professors particularly in light of the 2004 election and religion's impact on it - it's absolutely wrong.

SteelSD
06-29-2005, 10:04 PM
I understand that Rosie. But who is the center/focus of religion? What does it involve around? Especially the religion that played a role in our government?

Wrong questions. The point of the instructor was that his student position her discussion of religion in a non-monotheistic manner.

He's well within his right to do so. It's his class. His rules. The whole exercise was set up so that the students knew they had to have their term paper topics approved before writing word one (a very common practice). The professor acquiesced to his student's preferred topic with a single clear caveat. There was a "why", but it's irrelevant. He could have very easily told her to choose another topic. He had every expectation that she follow the assignment parameters and even attempted to allow her to alter her work to fit within those parameters before assigning a grade.

This woman knew that what she was doing was wrong from the get-go. She got exactly what she deserved. The irony is that she threw herself in front of a bus for her "principles" and is now trying to blame the bus because she got smoked by it.

She did exactly what she knew she wasn't supposed to do, knew what the penalty was for doing so, and doesn't think it's her fault.

I have zero sympathy for stupid people.

pedro
06-29-2005, 10:07 PM
Yes they should have parameters. But one student shouldn't be alone in facing those parameters when the rest of the class has carte blanche on the same assignment.

Of course, we don't know if that's the case - the article failed to make it clear. If, for example, another student's paper focused on "Acid rain in Upstate New York" and Prof. Shefchik approved the topic on the condition that the word "pollution" wasn't used, that's fine. And it would explain the "God" ban. But for a student to be the only one to face parameters when her paper deals with religion - a touchy subject, unfortunately, for many of America's left-leaning college professors particularly in light of the 2004 election and religion's impact on it - it's absolutely wrong.

That makes absolutely no sense.

SteelSD
06-29-2005, 10:08 PM
Yes they should have parameters. But one student shouldn't be alone in facing those parameters when the rest of the class has carte blanche on the same assignment.

Of course, we don't know if that's the case - the article failed to make it clear. If, for example, another student's paper focused on "Acid rain in Upstate New York" and Prof. Shefchik approved the topic on the condition that the word "pollution" wasn't used, that's fine. And it would explain the "God" ban. But for a student to be the only one to face parameters when her paper deals with religion - a touchy subject, unfortunately, for many of America's left-leaning college professors particularly in light of the 2004 election and religion's impact on it - it's absolutely wrong.

FYI- It's common practice for professors to approve topics in advance and even to request that rough drafts be submitted before final copy is submitted for grading. I'd be pretty darn positive that every class member had to go through the same process she did.

I don't see this as being a consistency issue. It's a student behavioral issue.

M2
06-29-2005, 10:31 PM
Yes they should have parameters. But one student shouldn't be alone in facing those parameters when the rest of the class has carte blanche on the same assignment.

Of course, we don't know if that's the case ...

Second part first ... and that should be reason enough not to go off of the martyred Christian tangent.

All we've got is the student's say-so about what her teacher told her. Seeing that she couldn't follow a simple instruction, I'm not taking her word for what she was told. My guess, having been there before, is the professor wanted her to write a thoughtful paper on religion and government and not a personal religious screed. The "God" prohibition makes a lot of sense because it eliminates all sorts of nonsense. For instance,this way she can't write tripe like "God's laws supercede those of man." I'm not saying that's wrong or that she shouldn't believe it, but it's a personal interjection into what, seemingly, was supposed to an impersonal discussion of the matter. The "God" prohibition would force her to deal with a whole spectrum of religions and not just Christianity and it would prevent her from continually insisting she's privy to God's intimate will in the paper, which is just shoddy and amateurish in a collegiate-level paper.

And I imagine any student doing a paper on the subject she picked would have the same parameters. If some students didn't face that prohibition and she did, then you'd have a case. She chose a subject. Her prof laid out the parameters for his discussion of the subject. Anyone who's been to college knows the drill, happens all the time. Here's what I don't want. Here's what I do want. This is as unique as oxygen.

Anyway, if I were the prof my response to the ACLJ would be, "It was God's will that she fail."

GAC
06-30-2005, 08:37 AM
I'm amazed that evangelical Christians ever graduate from secular universities, if this woman is typical of the group.

:rolleyes:

Are you a college graduate?

registerthis
06-30-2005, 09:36 AM
You're asking someone to come to or form a hypothesis or conclusion and then restricting the material that is very relevant to the subject matter. That is all I'm saying.
Not really...the subject she wished to write about was very broad. Certainly, she should have been able to intelligently discuss the topic without referring to the word "God". If she couldn't, as has been postulated many times before on this thread, she simply could have chosen another topic.

oneupper
06-30-2005, 09:40 AM
This woman knew that what she was doing was wrong from the get-go. She got exactly what she deserved. The irony is that she threw herself in front of a bus for her "principles" and is now trying to blame the bus because she got smoked by it.



I think you give her too little credit. This wasn't about a term paper or a grade. This was a provocation to draw a response.

This lady put a chip on her shoulder and dared the prof to give her an F. He did. Then she took action: take it to the media and the ACLJ. She got what she wanted: a response, a national debate and maybe even a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, this is becoming typical of the radical Christian agenda. Push the religious issue EVERYWHERE, whether it is appropriate or not. Scream ''I'm a martyr" when rebuffed.

Do we really HAVE to have the 10 commandments in a courthouse? Or prayer in school, for that matter. REALLY NOW. Could Ms. Hauf have chosen another topic (it was an ENGLISH assignment) given the "unfair'' restriction (in the eyes of some) of a certain word. Of course she could.

registerthis
06-30-2005, 09:40 AM
I'm amazed that evangelical Christians ever graduate from secular universities, if this woman is typical of the group.
I'm amazed that Christians make up 80% of the population in this nation. if I didn't know that, I'd swear we were an abused and persecuted minority fighting for our very survival. At least to hear the evangelicals tell it...

Jaycint
06-30-2005, 09:47 AM
I'm amazed that evangelical Christians ever graduate from secular universities, if this woman is typical of the group.

C'mon RF, that's an awful broad swipe to take at an entire group. I am far from an evangelical Christian but the few that I happen to know don't fit so easily into that pigeon hole that you seem to have created with your statement I quoted.

Kind of akin to me saying "I'm amazed that any conservative Muslim ever makes it to age 35 if that last guy that blew up the busload of kids is typical of that group."

SteelSD
06-30-2005, 09:52 AM
I think you give her too little credit. This wasn't about a term paper or a grade. This was a provocation to draw a response.

This lady put a chip on her shoulder and dared the prof to give her an F. He did. Then she took action: take it to the media and the ACLJ. She got what she wanted: a response, a national debate and maybe even a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, this is becoming typical of the radical Christian agenda. Push the religious issue EVERYWHERE, whether it is appropriate or not. Scream ''I'm a martyr" when rebuffed.

Do we really HAVE to have the 10 commandments in a courthouse? Or prayer in school, for that matter. REALLY NOW. Could Ms. Hauf have chosen another topic (it was an ENGLISH assignment) given the "unfair'' restriction (in the eyes of some) of a certain word. Of course she could.

Oh, I know. See, here's the thing...

The professor inside my head told me that I had to write my last post without using the word "martyr" or the phrase "radical Christian agenda".

If I couldn't have done so, I had a ton of other threads to post on. But I chose to follow those parameters and post here instead.

;)

GAC
06-30-2005, 09:54 AM
Since you include yourself in that statement - please define what an evangelical or Christian is? Don't tell us what you think it isn't, but what it is. And give evidence to back it up.

I ask this because you say that Christians make up 80% of the population of this nation. And I readily doubt that. And I don't care what any polling data may say. The questions are usually broad and very vague, and I've come to find that many who profess to be Christian deny many of the very basic tenets as laid out by Jesus and the apostles as to what a Christian is. It's like they want to pick and choose, and then create a Christianity that suits their own personal needs, lifestyle, and ideology.You know- more with the times.

If you asked 10 people off the street what a Christian is, you'll get 10 different responses.

I no more believe that 80% of this nation is Christian then those who claim this is a Christian nation. ;)

oneupper
06-30-2005, 09:56 AM
Oh, I know. See, here's the thing...

The professor inside my head told me that I had to write my last post without using the word "martyr" or the phrase "radical Christian agenda".

If I couldn't have done so, I had a ton of other threads to post on. But I chose to follow those parameters and post here instead.

;)


I guess that earns me an F, as in "I'm going to Hell" (Oops...I did it again) :)

registerthis
06-30-2005, 10:09 AM
Since you include yourself in that statement - please define what an evangelical or Christian is? Don't tell us what you think it isn't, but what it is. And give evidence to back it up.
OK, well, there are a number of polls that say...

And I don't care what any polling data may say.
Oh, well then, never mind.

And what evidence, pray tell, would you like to see then?

Johnny Footstool
06-30-2005, 10:15 AM
And I don't care what any polling data may say. The questions are usually broad and very vague, and I've come to find that many who profess to be Christian deny many of the very basic tenets as laid out by Jesus and the apostles as to what a Christian is. It's like they want to pick and choose, and then create a Christianity that suits their own personal needs, lifestyle, and ideology.You know- more with the times.

If you asked 10 people off the street what a Christian is, you'll get 10 different responses.

I no more believe that 80% of this nation is Christian then those who claim this is a Christian nation.

By your own admission on many different occasions, GAC, your definition of Christianity is fairly narrow and exclusive. If I remember correctly from your posts (and I'm not trying to put words in your mouth), you believe in a strict interpretation of the Bible. But there are many, *many* other Christians who don't interpret scripture as you do.

This has always been a problem with Christianity and with religion in general -- the different sects just refuse to agree with each other.

Redsfaithful
06-30-2005, 10:47 AM
:rolleyes:

Are you a college graduate?

Getting pretty close, thanks for asking.

Redsfaithful
06-30-2005, 10:50 AM
C'mon RF, that's an awful broad swipe to take at an entire group. I am far from an evangelical Christian but the few that I happen to know don't fit so easily into that pigeon hole that you seem to have created with your statement I quoted.

Kind of akin to me saying "I'm amazed that any conservative Muslim ever makes it to age 35 if that last guy that blew up the busload of kids is typical of that group."

I threw evangelical in there for a reason. Most Christians (most of whom GAC wouldn't consider true Christians) aren't anything like this woman. Nearly all evangelicals that I've met are a great deal like her.

I worked five summers at an evangelical Christian camp (Salvation Army), and she's very representative of the group. Most of them are very nice people, don't get me wrong, I loved most of the people I worked with. But on certain issues it was best just to ignore things.

savafan
06-30-2005, 10:51 AM
Did this professor tell all of the students as a group that their papers could not use the word God, or just her individually? If he singled her out because of a topic he does not agree with, he violated her freedom of speech.

I have taught and continue to teach college courses, and I have not agreed with all of the topics my students have written about. The point of a research paper if to learn how to do research, write up the research, and integrate your own thoughts with the research.

The standards I set for my classes research papers apply to everyone. For example, I tell all of my students if the paper does not meet the minimum page requirement, they automatically get a zero. I do not regulate specific variable in the topic. One student of mine wrote a paper and gave a presentation against affirmative action, a topic I'm sure offended some in the class.

The issue to me isn't the criteria itself. if he told all of the students, that's one thing. If I was doing a research paper on the Holcaust, it might offend people as well.


I wrote two fairly controversial research papers in college, one on the Kennedy assassination, and one on the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I received an A on both of them, with the teacher sharing parts with the class and explaining that, while he didn't personally agree with me, I did an excellent job of researching my points. There wasn't a teacher that I respected more at that college after that.

savafan
06-30-2005, 11:12 AM
Perhaps her paper included quotes such as these,


"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."




"I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."




"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."




"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God."




"Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality."




"With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."


"The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right."

Maybe not, but we don't know...

savafan
06-30-2005, 11:28 AM
Not much, but these two articles give a little bit more information on this topic.

http://www.esnider.net/

June 6

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which specializes in constitutional law, today demanded that a community college in California reverse a low grade given to a student who was punished for including a reference to God in a paper written for an English class.

“It is absolutely unbelievable that a student would be punished for presenting a thoughtful and well written paper that included references to God,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which is representing the student. “The actions by the instructor reflect a profound hostility toward religious expression and his actions clearly violate the constitutional rights of our client. We are demanding that the college immediately remove the low grade given for this paper and order the instructor to end his discriminatory treatment, and apologize to the student for his actions. We are giving the school an opportunity to correct this injustice before federal litigation is considered.”

The ACLJ today sent a letter to Patricia Spencer, President of Victor Valley Community College in Victorville, CA regarding an incident involving adjunct instructor Michael Shefchik and his actions toward student Bethany Hauf. The issue revolves around an assignment given to an English class by Shefchik.

Hauf notified the instructor that her topic for the research paper would be “Religion and Its Place within the Government.” In an email to Hauf, Shefchik, a self-described atheist, said the topic was within the bounds of the assignment. However, he put one troubling condition on Hauf’s paper: “I have one limiting factor,” wrote Shefchik, “no mention of the big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.” After pursuing this topic and presenting a draft of the paper to Shefchik, as required by course requirements, Hauf was told that, at best, because she had written off topic about God, she would be graded 69 out of a possible 100 points. Shefchik told Hauf that among the reasons for the low grade was that references to “God” could be offensive. After presenting her paper on Friday, Shefchik handed out the final grade on Monday and gave Hauf a score of 49 out of a possible 100 points for the research paper.

Hauf’s paper included a thoughtful and historical look at the role that God and religion have played in the formation of our country and government.

In a letter sent today to the college president, the ACLJ contends the actions of the instructor violate the First Amendment rights of Hauf including numerous rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States which safeguard student speech and expression. The ACLJ is demanding that the discriminatory treatment of Hauf by Shefchik cease, that the instructor recalculate and reverse the scoring for the paper, and that the instructor apologize to Hauf for his discriminatory treatment of her views. The ACLJ letter states: “It is imperative that this situation be corrected immediately to avoid possible litigation in federal court.”

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice specializes in constitutional law. The ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.


http://www.phyrfight.com/weblog/index.php?p=87


n her English 101 course, Bethany Hauf, a freshman at a community college in California, was told that she could pick the topic to be discussed in the quarterly term paper. She chose to discuss “Religion and its Place within the Government.” The professor, Michael Shefchik, responded by noting the controversial nature of the topic, calling it one the “two most taboo and subjective topics.” While he approved the paper, he had a specific request that Bethany not mention God in the paper. In fact, in an email, the professor specifically told Bethany “I have one limiting factor—no mention of big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.” He went on to say in the same email that the separation of church and state has to be respected, and it would be more appropriate to discuss the topic from a different vantage point. Specifically, the professor stated that “perhaps ‘Religion has no place in government’ would be a more viable and topical subject.”

After presenting a draft of the paper to Shefchik, as required by course requirements, Hauf was told that because she had written off topic about God, at best, she would be graded 69 out of a possible 100 points. Shefchik told Hauf that among the reasons for the low grade was that references to “God” could be offensive. After presenting her paper on Friday, Shefchik handed out the final grade on Monday and gave Hauf a score of 49 out of a possible 100 points for the research paper.

Redsfaithful
06-30-2005, 11:36 AM
I find it amusing that your first link is soliciting donations for the ACLJ Sava.

RedsBaron
06-30-2005, 11:43 AM
Shefchik told Hauf that among the reasons for the low grade was that references to “God” could be offensive.
The professor, Michael Shefchik, responded by noting the controversial nature of the topic, calling it one the “two most taboo and subjective topics.” While he approved the paper, he had a specific request that Bethany not mention God in the paper. In fact, in an email, the professor specifically told Bethany “I have one limiting factor—no mention of big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.” He went on to say in the same email that the separation of church and state has to be respected, and it would be more appropriate to discuss the topic from a different vantage point. Specifically, the professor stated that “perhaps ‘Religion has no place in government’ would be a more viable and topical subject.”

Shefchik told Hauf that among the reasons for the low grade was that references to “God” could be offensive.
I would want to actually read the paper before making any judgment about its quality or the grade it deserved.
I do find the statements supposedly made by the professor to be of interest though. He apparently objected to the paper, at least in part, because the mention of God offended him. So what? A professor, even more than a student, should be able to tolerate reading ideas that "offend" him. It also appears that the professor may have had his own agenda, if he really said that "Religion has no place in government" was a better topic.

registerthis
06-30-2005, 11:49 AM
You know what *I* find interesting?

Everyone, go do a Google search for "Bethany Hauf".

Now, show me one single link to a legitimate news site that picked up this story. Just one would suffice. I'm not talking about the AP< Reuters, UPI, etc...show me a local paper, magazine, or whomever that actually ran this.

The only sites I am able to find that actually ran this story are blogs, the ACLJ website, and other similar sites that could hardly be considered fair or unbiased.

Then again, this is all probably part of the vast anti-Christian conspiracy to keep this story out of the press. :rolleyes:

RedFanAlways1966
06-30-2005, 11:50 AM
It also appears that the professor may have had his own agenda, if he really said that "Religion has no place in government" was a better topic.

Absolutely. I think anyone who has had the college experience in the last 25 years suspected this from the get-go. But most are blinded by the "did not follow instructions" argument. No more said... it ends at the did not follow instructions. Something smells rotten in Denmark. Oops, I am not following instructions... this argument ends b/c some have said it should end at the follow instructions thing.

Reds/Flyers Fan
06-30-2005, 11:59 AM
Not much, but these two articles give a little bit more information on this topic.

http://www.esnider.net/

In an email to Hauf, Shefchik, a self-described atheist, said the topic was within the bounds of the assignment. However, he put one troubling condition on Hauf’s paper: “I have one limiting factor,” wrote Shefchik, “no mention of the big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.” After pursuing this topic and presenting a draft of the paper to Shefchik, as required by course requirements, Hauf was told that, at best, because she had written off topic about God, she would be graded 69 out of a possible 100 points. Shefchik told Hauf that among the reasons for the low grade was that references to “God” could be offensive.

Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Now it's a little more clear. This professor is an atheist and said her references to God could be offensive. To who, exactly?

There was no class-wide word ban of which Ms. Hauf didn't conform to. She was singled out because her paper topic was "offensive" to an atheist community college professor. What a load of garbage.

The argument that she deserved to fail because she ignored the rules is irrelevant to the national importance of this story. Perhaps Ms. Hauf realized that the most good that could come out of this situation is not an A+ on a community college term paper (which, if she wrote against her beliefs and convictions, how could she feel good about the grade?) but rather the exposure of this professor and his blatant bias in an English class.

Peter denied Jesus to save his own life. Should this student have denied God to raise her grade?

Redsfaithful
06-30-2005, 12:09 PM
the national importance of this story.

That's hilarious.

RFS62
06-30-2005, 12:11 PM
I really don't get this thread.

If your teacher tells you to hop on one foot and bark like a dog, that's what you'd better do.

RedsBaron
06-30-2005, 12:13 PM
If your teacher tells you to hop on one foot and bark like a dog, that's what you'd better do.
Not necessarily. It depends what the teacher demands. Even elemenatary students don't shed all their rights at the school house gate.
As I said earlier, I'd have to actually read her paper before passing judgment on what kind of grade she deserved.

dsmith421
06-30-2005, 12:26 PM
I'm going to take the standard right-wing take:

"Another stupid lawsuit. Quit whining."

oneupper
06-30-2005, 12:27 PM
Perhaps Ms. Hauf realized that the most good that could come out of this situation is not an A+ on a community college term paper (which, if she wrote against her beliefs and convictions, how could she feel good about the grade?) but rather the exposure of this professor and his blatant bias in an English class.



This is not a PERHAPS...this was the objective all along. Ms. Hauf probably doesn't care at all about her grade (for crissakes a 34-yr old community college "student" who already has the course passed). She KNEW her teacher was an atheist, so she was out to create controversy to see if she could GET him.

The prof took the bait...and probably is fighting for his job right now. If the decision is in the hands of the "right" people...he's as good as gone.

savafan
06-30-2005, 12:47 PM
Not necessarily. It depends what the teacher demands. Even elemenatary students don't shed all their rights at the school house gate.
As I said earlier, I'd have to actually read her paper before passing judgment on what kind of grade she deserved.

Exactly! I can remember from my youngest school days, my mom telling that I didn't have to do anything that anyone else told me that I knew was against the way I was raised.

Blimpie
06-30-2005, 12:52 PM
I was given a little "lesson" on following directions in 5th grade. Our last math test of the year. Our teacher had been building this thing up for weeks telling us this was going to be the hardest test we ever took. Test day came. She passed out the test. Told us to read the directions, take our time, and turn in papers when finished. If you read the directions, the directions stated "Do not answer any of the questions, simply write your name at the top of the page, sit in your seat quietly until 2:15pm, and then get in line at the desk to hand in your paper."

I did not read the directions. I was so concerned about doing well on the test, I looked at the first problem and started working on it. It took me about 45 minutes to do the test (25 questions). I handed it in shortly before the bell rang. I got it back the next day......F. Confused, I took it home to my Dad. We worked the problems at home. All of my answers to the problems were correct. My Dad went into school with me the next day to talk to the teacher. She had him read the directions at the top of the page. He was upset about it, and told her so. He, nor I, could do anything about it, though. Those were the directions. I didn't follow them, and I failed that test (and got a B for the class as a result). I always read directions on everything to this day.Great post. It reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer was responsible for filling out the application for Lisa to enter the Miss Springfield contest. On the bottom of the application, it read:

"Do not write below this line"
=======================
..of course, Homer wrote, "O.K." and Lisa was disqualified from the competition IIRC :D

Chip R
06-30-2005, 12:56 PM
Exactly! I can remember from my youngest school days, my mom telling that I didn't have to do anything that anyone else told me that I knew was against the way I was raised.That's right. And she did what she wanted and got a poor grade. Life goes on.

Johnny Footstool
06-30-2005, 01:14 PM
It depends what the teacher demands. Even elemenatary students don't shed all their rights at the school house gate.

The teacher didn't demand that she write a paper on religion and its place in government. He gave her guidelines and told her what her grade would be if she ignored those guidelines.


Exactly! I can remember from my youngest school days, my mom telling that I didn't have to do anything that anyone else told me that I knew was against the way I was raised.

Were you raised to mention God every time you write about religion?

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:18 PM
Perhaps her paper included quotes such as these,


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."






Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
"I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."






Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Jefferson
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."






Quote:
Originally Posted by George Washington
"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God."






Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham Lincoln
"Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality."






Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham Lincoln
"With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."




Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Hamilton
"The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right."



Maybe not, but we don't know...

Maybe she should have done some research as her teacher expected, and she could have come up with these instead. See below.

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:18 PM
I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives.... It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolt those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, August 6, 1816


What a conspiracy this,
between church and state!
Sing Tantarara, rogues all, rogues all!
Sing Tantarara, rogues all!
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, June 25, 1824, commenting specifically on the popular but false claim that the establishment of the Christian religion had been part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that the Constitution itself does not address

The 'Wall of Separation':
Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Danbury Baptists, 1802 (emphasis ours). This was used again by Jefferson in his letter to the Virginia Baptsits, and was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 U.S. at 164, 1879); Everson (330 U.S. at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 U.S. at 232, 1948)


the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or knew that such a character existed.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address.

For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address.

But every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion. No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments?
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Jeremiah Moor, 1800


.. [A] short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State; that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man, has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves; that rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Kercheval, 1810

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Moses Robinson, 1801, ME 10:237

Turning, then, from this loathsome combination of church and state, and weeping over the follies of our fellow men, who yield themselves the willing dupes and drudges of these mountebanks, I consider reformation and redress as desperate, and abandon them to the Quixotism of more enthusiastic minds.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Charles Clay, January 29, 1815; Writings, XIV, 232

The clergy ... [wishing to establish their particular form of Christianity] ... believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original

I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X.Y.Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U.S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god,eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original

[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, 1813

Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a censor morum over each other.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

Our [Virginia's] act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The Ambassadors and ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this court have asked me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is inserted at full length in several books now in the press; among others, in the new Encyclopédie. I think it will produce considerable good even in those countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression of body and mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of the people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Wythe from Paris, August 13, 1786

The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopédie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, from Paris, December 16, 1786

Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, February 20, 1784
The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Caspar Wistar (June 21, 1807)

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason rather than of blind-folded fear. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.... If it end in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others it will procure for you.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Peter Carr, 10 Aug. 1787. (original capitalization of the word god is retained per original)

It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N. G. Dufief, April 19, 1814

They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush. 21 April 1803

I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.
-- Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, ca. 1776

If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814, using the term atheist to mean one who lacks a god belief, not one who is without morals, as was a common use of the term in Jefferson's day

The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticism of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from it’s indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814

Every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of god.
-- Thomas Jefferson, arguing that Chrisian exclusivism (via the idea of an exclusive revelation) degrades the credibility of the Christian religion, in a letter to John Adams, 11 April 1823 (capitalization of god per original)

[Creeds] have been the bane and ruin of the Christian church, its own fatal invention, which, through so many ages, made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and at this day divides it into castes of inextinguishable hatred to one another.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Whitmore, June 5, 1822

On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Carey, 1816

A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

[Calvin's] religion was demonism. If ever a man worshiped a false god, he did. The being described in his five points is ... a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious, attributes of Calvin.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Works, 1829 edition, vol. 4, p. 322, quoted from Franklin Steiner

If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators of the public happiness send them here [Europe]. It is the best school in the universe to cure them of that folly. They will see here with their own eyes that these descriptions of men are an abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of people. The omnipotence of their effect cannot be better proved than in this country [France] particularly, where notwithstanding the finest soil upon earth, the finest climate under heaven, and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable character of which the human form is susceptible, where such a people I say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, are yet loaded with misery by kings, nobles and priests, and by them alone.
-- Thomas Jefferson, writing from Paris to George Wythe

No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns.... In all these he has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

iam not afraid of the priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering, without being able to give me one moment of pain.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Gates Spafford

If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that this would be the best of worlds if there were no religion in it."
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a reply to John Adams' letter, quoted by Joseph Lewis in his address "Jefferson the Freethinker," delivered at a banquet of the Freethinkers' Society of New York on the evening of April 13th, 1925, at Hotel Belleclaire, 77th Street and Broadway, New York City, in honor of the 182nd anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson.

The priests of the different religious sects ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp July 30, 1816, denouncing the doctrine of the Trinity and suggesting it to be so riddled in falsehood that only an authoritarian figure could decipher its meaning and, with a firm grip on people's spiritual and mental freedoms, thus convince the people of its truthfulness

Of publishing a book on religion, my dear sir, I never had an idea. I should as soon think of writing for the reformation of Bedlam, as of the world of religious sects. Of these there must be, at least, ten thousand, every individual of every one of which believes all wrong but his own.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Rev. Charles Clay, rector of Jefferson's parish church in Albemarle County, Va., January 29, 1815

I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Woods (undated), referring to "our particular superstition," Christianity, from John E. Remsburg, Six Historic Americans: Thomas Jefferson,

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.... what has no meaning admits no explanation.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Alexander Smyth, January 17, 1825

We find in the writings of his biographers ... a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to William Short, August 4, 1822, referring to Jesus's biographers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.
-- Thomas Jefferson, referring to the god of the Jews under Moses, in his letter to William Short (August 4, 1822)


It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three, and yet, that the one is not three, and the three not one.... But this constitutes the craft, the power, and profits of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams (August 22, 1813), Works, Vol. IV, p. 205, Randolph's edition

The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible. The religion of Jesus is founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged.
-- Thomas Jefferson, equating the Dogma of the Trinity with polytheism and calling it more unintelligible than paganism, in his letter to Rev. Jared Sparks upon receipt of the latters' latest book (November 4, 1820)
In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and prayer parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty would permit them to use a mere earthly lover.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822

A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814, referring to the University of

We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select even from the very words of Jesus, paring off the amphiboligisms into which they have been led by forgetting often or not understanding what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, October 13, 1813, clarifying his desire to strip away the myth introduced by the Gospel writers, as his motivation for constructing his Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus



Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone.
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, 11 January 1817

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
-- Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.... I deem the essential principles of our government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ... freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.
-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801


It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, August 4, 1820


In reviewing the history of the times through which we have passed, no portion of it gives greater satisfaction or reflection, than that which represents the efforts of the friends of religious freedom and the success with which they are crowned.
-- Thomas Jefferson

May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day [July 4th] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them....
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826, Jefferson's last letter, declining, due to ill health, an invitation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of that document; Jefferson died ten days later, the very day ot the 50th anniversary of the Declaration's signing (John Adams died a few hours later, not knowing that Jefferson had also died)


From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:545


The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original).

Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782


Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, after being prosecuted for selling de Becourt's book, Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive, which Jefferson himself had purchased (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.
But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from.... I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises, it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it. I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted.... Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U.S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:19 PM
Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 20, 1815


The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
-- 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


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)

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,

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


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

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

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


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,

Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?
-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821

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

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


The Church of Rome has made it an article of faith that no man can be saved out of their church, and all other religious sects approach this dreadful opinion in proportion to their ignorance, and the influence of ignorant or wicked priests.
-- John Adams, Diary and Autobiography


What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because of suspected heresy? Remember the Index Expurgato-rius, the Inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter, and the guillotine; and, oh! horrible, the rack! This is as bad, if not worse, than a slow fire. Nor should the Lion's Mouth be forgotten. Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years.
-- John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814


God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.
-- John Adams, "this awful blashpemy" that he refers to is the myth of the Incarnation of Christ, from Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion

Numberless have been the systems of iniquity The most refined, sublime, extensive, and astonishing constitution of policy that ever was conceived by the mind of man was framed by the Romish clergy for the aggrandizement of their own Order They even persuaded mankind to believe, faithfully and undoubtingly, that God Almighty had entrusted them with the keys of heaven, whose gates they might open and close at pleasure ... with authority to license all sorts of sins and Crimes ... or withholding the rain of heaven and the beams of the sun; with the management of earthquakes, pestilence, and famine; nay, with the mysterious, awful, incomprehensible power of creating out of bread and wine the flesh and blood of God himself. All these opinions they were enabled to spread and rivet among the people by reducing their minds to a state of sordid ignorance and staring timidity, and by infusing into them a religious horror of letters and knowledge. Thus was human nature chained fast for ages in a cruel, shameful, and deplorable servitude....
Of all the nonsense and delusion which had ever passed through the mind of man, none had ever been more extravagant than the notions of absolutions, indelible characters, uninterrupted successions, and the rest of those fantastical ideas, derived from the canon law, which had thrown such a glare of mystery, sanctity, reverence, and right reverend eminence and holiness around the idea of a priest as no mortal could deserve ... the ridiculous fancies of sanctified effluvia from episcopal fingers.
-- John Adams, "A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law," printed in the Boston Gazette, August 1765


We think ourselves possessed, or, at least, we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects, and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact! There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny or doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not better; even in our own Massachusetts, which I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemers upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any argument for investigating into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Dupuis? But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution, and it is also true that some few persons are hardy enough to venture to depart from them. But as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed. The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu.
-- John Adams, one of his last letters to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825. Adams was 90, Jefferson 81 at the time; both died on July 4th of the following year, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:19 PM
I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
-- Benjamin Franklin,


If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.
-- Benjamin Franklin, An Essay on Toleration
Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.
-- Benjamin Franklin (attributed: source unknown)

He [the Rev. Mr. Whitefield] used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard.
-- Benjamin Franklin, from Franklin's Autobiography


"But the most dangerous Hypocrite in a Common-Wealth, is one who leaves the Gospel for the sake of the Law: A Man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat a whole Country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law: And here the Clergy are in great Danger of being deceiv'd, and the People of being deceiv'd by the Clergy, until the Monster arrives to such Power and Wealth, that he is out of the reach of both, and can oppress the People without their own blind Assistance."
-- Benjamin Franklin, comparing the politicized clergyman with the regular clergyman, a thing which a few have ventured to do in recent times (Ahem!), quoted in The New England Currant (July 23, 1722)

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:20 PM
My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
-- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J. S. Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death (Willie died in 1862)

"In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same opinion as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out, he remained an unbeliever. Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book, in which he endeavored to prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."
-- Judge James M. Nelson, who had an intimate acquaintance with Lincoln in Washington, in the Louisville Times, in 1887, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 137

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:20 PM
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
-- George Washington, letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island, August, 1790, in Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States, Vol 1. p. 862

Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.
-- George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition ... In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.
-- George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793

If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists.
-- George Washington, letter to Tench Tilghman asking him to secure a carpenter and a bricklayer for his Mount Vernon estate, March 24, 1784

I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.
-- George Washington, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, a Mennonite minister, May 28, 1788

Crash Davis
06-30-2005, 01:21 PM
The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostle's Creed, the Nicean Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man: Being An Answer To Mr. Burke's Attack On The French Revolution, Part the First, Conclusion

When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war-whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order.
-- Thomas Paine

When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.
-- Thomas Paine, The Crisis

The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous. The patronage which Britain has shown to Arts, Science and Literature has given her a better established and lasting rank in the world than she ever acquired by her arms. And Russia is a modern instance of the effect which the encouragement of those things produces both as to the internal improvement of a country and the character it raises abroad. The reign of Louis the fourteenth is more distinguished by being the Era of Science and Literature in France than by any other circumstance of those days.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791
‘As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
-- Thomas Paine, (1737-1809), The Age of Reason

It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those imposters and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5)
Everything wonderful in appearance has been ascribed to angels, to devils, or to saints. Everything ancient has some legendary tale annexed to it. The common operations of nature have not escaped their practice of corrupting everything.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine
No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine
The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5),

The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine
The Bible is a book that has been read more, and examined less, than any book that ever existed.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon that the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine
Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! this is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

savafan
06-30-2005, 01:24 PM
Were you raised to mention God every time you write about religion?

Well, I was raised in a strong Christian household with both of my biological parents married to each other, and that Christianity was the only truth. I didn't write about religion much in elementary school though.

When it came to my later years of education, I had chosen my own path, and when I did write about religion (which Christianity is not to me), I did mention God.

registerthis
06-30-2005, 01:26 PM
Well, we know Crash Davis would get an 'A'.

:owned:

SteelSD
06-30-2005, 01:26 PM
Absolutely. I think anyone who has had the college experience in the last 25 years suspected this from the get-go. But most are blinded by the "did not follow instructions" argument. No more said... it ends at the did not follow instructions. Something smells rotten in Denmark. Oops, I am not following instructions... this argument ends b/c some have said it should end at the follow instructions thing.

1. Assignment was given.
2. All students were required to present topic proposal for approval.
3. Subject topic was presented for approval per class requirement.
4. Student was given conditional approval for paper topic.
5. Student chose to pursue proposed topic for paper.
6. Student willingly ignored conditions of approval.
7. Student turned in rough draft that was not acceptable.
8. Professor explained parameters again and listed potential result of non-compliance regarding approved assignment parameters.
9.. Student chose to accept result of non-compliance by submitting work that was already determined to be unacceptable.

That's where it should have ended. The instructor's motivation is immaterial. The student's motivation is immaterial.

Chip R
06-30-2005, 01:39 PM
1. Assignment was given.
2. All students were required to present topic proposal for approval.
3. Subject topic was presented for approval per class requirement.
4. Student was given conditional approval for paper topic.
5. Student chose to pursue proposed topic for paper.
6. Student willingly ignored conditions of approval.
7. Student turned in rough draft that was not acceptable.
8. Professor explained parameters again and listed potential result of non-compliance regarding approved assignment parameters.
9.. Student chose to accept result of non-compliance by submitting work that was already determined to be unacceptable.

That's where it should have ended. The instructor's motivation is immaterial. The student's motivation is immaterial.
It all changes when God is involved, evidently.

Jaycint
06-30-2005, 02:19 PM
1. Assignment was given.
2. All students were required to present topic proposal for approval.
3. Subject topic was presented for approval per class requirement.
4. Student was given conditional approval for paper topic.
5. Student chose to pursue proposed topic for paper.
6. Student willingly ignored conditions of approval.
7. Student turned in rough draft that was not acceptable.
8. Professor explained parameters again and listed potential result of non-compliance regarding approved assignment parameters.
9.. Student chose to accept result of non-compliance by submitting work that was already determined to be unacceptable.

That's where it should have ended. The instructor's motivation is immaterial. The student's motivation is immaterial.

Here is what probably should have happened and all of this would have been easily averted. Between Steps 5 and 6 of Steel's step by step plan should have come step 5.5 and 5.75 as listed below.

5.5 Student lets teacher know full well that she thinks he is abusing his position in order to further his own aetheistic beliefs. Student tells teacher that she sees through his attempt to censor something that he personally doesn't believe in.

5.75 Student then writes the paper the way the teacher requested it to be done.

That way both parties get what they want, he stifles her ability to write a paper using the word "God" which apparently would so offend his aetheistic sensibilities and she calls him on it and basically says "I'll write it your way but don't think you just got over on me."

Reds/Flyers Fan
06-30-2005, 02:21 PM
I think Crash Davis wins the longest post in RZ history -- hands down. Reading that took longer than most Eric Milton starts this summer.

Blimpie
06-30-2005, 02:24 PM
I think Crash Davis wins the longest post in RZ history -- hands down. Reading that took longer than most Eric Milton starts this summer.That was a post? I'd call it more like a "manifesto" ;)

Chip R
06-30-2005, 02:39 PM
Here is what probably should have happened and all of this would have been easily averted. Between Steps 5 and 6 of Steel's step by step plan should have come step 5.5 and 5.75 as listed below.

5.5 Student lets teacher know full well that she thinks he is abusing his position in order to further his own aetheistic beliefs. Student tells teacher that she sees through his attempt to censor something that he personally doesn't believe in.

5.75 Student then writes the paper the way the teacher requested it to be done.

That way both parties get what they want, he stifles her ability to write a paper using the word "God" which apparently would so offend his aetheistic sensibilities and she calls him on it and basically says "I'll write it your way but don't think you just got over on me."That sounds like a good solution to me.

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 02:51 PM
I would want to actually read the paper before making any judgment about its quality or the grade it deserved.
I do find the statements supposedly made by the professor to be of interest though. He apparently objected to the paper, at least in part, because the mention of God offended him. So what? A professor, even more than a student, should be able to tolerate reading ideas that "offend" him. It also appears that the professor may have had his own agenda, if he really said that "Religion has no place in government" was a better topic.

You're smearing that red herring pretty hard on that tree, there. The teacher's ideology doesn't matter. At all.

And your analogy earlier about the kindergartener not relinquishing her rights when she steps into the classroom?

I've never seen a slower "bait-and-switch" in my life. You telegraphed that baby from here to there. This isn't about "rights." At all; in the least. This is about "did you do your homework correctly or not." That's all. All that other crap about ideology and the persecuted Christians and state-funded colleges and first amendment rights; all of it has no bearing on this issue; all of it is a red herring, ungermane to the issue at hand. See, she HAD the right to use "God," no one detained her from doing so and she went ahead and did it; but the teacher is under no obligation to give her a grade that she was happy with, as long as the teacher gives her the criteria beforehand.

But something tells me I'm just wasting my time explaining this.

RedsBaron
06-30-2005, 03:00 PM
But something tells me I'm just wasting my time explaining this.
You got that right. Anytime someone wants to simply condescend and also misrepresent what I've said is really wasting his time "explaining" it to poor little stupid me-it's a wonder I ever made it out of elementary school.

SteelSD
06-30-2005, 03:01 PM
Here is what probably should have happened and all of this would have been easily averted. Between Steps 5 and 6 of Steel's step by step plan should have come step 5.5 and 5.75 as listed below.

5.5 Student lets teacher know full well that she thinks he is abusing his position in order to further his own aetheistic beliefs. Student tells teacher that she sees through his attempt to censor something that he personally doesn't believe in.

5.75 Student then writes the paper the way the teacher requested it to be done.

That way both parties get what they want, he stifles her ability to write a paper using the word "God" which apparently would so offend his aetheistic sensibilities and she calls him on it and basically says "I'll write it your way but don't think you just got over on me."

Problem is that her point wasn't to simply let the professor know she didn't agree with his judgment. That disagreement was made perfectly clear when she submitted her rough draft.

Her point was open defiance and it was a backstabbing attempt because she had to initially lie to the professor to get past the point of initial concept approval (i.e. he would have never allowed her to use that topic if she had told him she wouldn't follow the parameters). It's not her open defiance that burns me about this one. It was her dishonesty and failure to graciously accept the consequences of her behavior. He trusted her enough to allow her to use a topic he could just as well have quashed, and she abused that trust. When that happens, someone does get hurt, but it's not the abuser.

The professor's motivations are immaterial. We can only guess that he was her target and, as he's reported to be of an athiest mindset, he's a convenient one I guess. But we don't know. Maybe it was the kid from India sitting next to her. Might it have been the Iranian student two rows in front of her. Could have been the native Chinese girl up one row and to her left.

We don't know who. But we know that she maliciously targetted someone.

And that's all I really need to know about this one. Malicious intent. Dishonest actions. Blaming others for her own behavior. And she's using her Faith as a sheild. Wow. Just wow.

RedsBaron
06-30-2005, 03:11 PM
The professor's motivations are immaterial. We can only guess that he was her target and, as he's reported to be of an athiest mindset, he's a convenient one I guess. But we don't know. Maybe it was the kid from India sitting next to her. Might it have been the Iranian student two rows in front of her. Could have been the native Chinese girl up one row and to her left.

We don't know who. But we know that she maliciously targetted someone.

And that's all I really need to know about this one. Malicious intent. Dishonest actions. Blaming others for her own behavior. And she's using her Faith as a sheild. Wow. Just wow.
How do you "know" she "targeted" anyone?
Maybe she did. Maybe she wrote a terrible paper (I've already noted that I would want to read the paper before forming any kind of opinion as to what kind of grade she deserved). But how do we "know' what her motives are?

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 03:11 PM
You got that right. Anytime someone wants to simply condescend and also misrepresent what I've said is really wasting his time "explaining" it to poor little stupid me-it's a wonder I ever made it out of elementary school.

I take that as a compliment from someone who consistently, no check that, constantly attempts to bait me by bringing up the fact that I hate monsters like Delay. Pretty passive-aggressive there pal. Just call me out specifically next time so I can rip your argument to shreds. For the time being I'm through with your crying game.

ochre
06-30-2005, 03:14 PM
And that's all I really need to know about this one. Malicious intent. Dishonest actions. Blaming others for her own behavior... ...Wow. Just wow.

Sounds like Reds front office material there. Better get her resume to DO.

RedsBaron
06-30-2005, 03:16 PM
I take that as a compliment from someone who consistently, no check that, constantly attempts to bait me by bringing up the fact that I hate monsters like Delay. Pretty passive-aggressive there pal. Just call me out specifically next time so I can rip your argument to shreds. For the time being I'm through with your crying game.
1. Please cite the posts where I've constantly tried to "bait" you.
2. I have noted several times on the non-baseball side of RedsZone that term "hate" is thrown around rather loosely, but those haven't been attempts to "bait" anyone. I believe that politics and current events can be discussed civilly, and, until your attack on me, the debate on this thread had been civil, if spirited. If you are consumed by hate, so be it.
3. I'm not your pal.
4. You've yet to rip me up.
5. I'm not crying.

zombie-a-go-go
06-30-2005, 03:17 PM
Sounds like Reds front office material there. Better get her resume to DO.

:laugh:

And oh yeah; can't you cats find a better outlet for your vitriol than an internet spat? Channel that "pissedoffedness" into something more fruitful?

Really. It's ridiculous.

Chip R
06-30-2005, 03:18 PM
:laugh:

And oh yeah; can't you cats find a better outlet for your vitriol than an internet spat? Channel that "pissedoffedness" into something more fruitful?

Like this? :obrien:

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 03:21 PM
3. I'm not your pal.


You're right. My apologies.

zombie-a-go-go
06-30-2005, 03:24 PM
Like this? :obrien:

I was thinking more along the lines of feeding the homeless or dressing up in tights and roaming the rooftops looking for evildoers to bring to justice, but yeah, I guess we could just go throw rotten eggs at Obie. ;) :D

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 03:27 PM
I think it's fair to say I know exactly from this thread who would and who wouldn't make the cut in forensics/debate club.

ochre
06-30-2005, 03:28 PM
O'Brien is not the last name to have as a "sports management" type in Ohio is it?

zombie-a-go-go
06-30-2005, 03:29 PM
O'Brien is not the last name to have as a "sports management" type in Ohio is it?

Yeah... "Brown" is where it's at. :)

ochre
06-30-2005, 03:31 PM
I think it's fair to say I know exactly from this thread who would and who wouldn't make the cut in forensics/debate club.
You dinging me for non sequiturs again?

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 03:37 PM
You dinging me for non sequiturs again?

No, but I got my eye on you. I know you're capable of some amphiboly and post hoc from time to time. ;)

dsmith421
06-30-2005, 03:52 PM
O'Brien is not the last name to have as a "sports management" type in Ohio is it?

When I was at UD, we referred to the coach of the Boston Celtics (post-Pitino) as "he who shall not be named," among other things I can't post here.

RANDY IN INDY
06-30-2005, 04:02 PM
Originally posted by zombie-a-go-go:[/b]

Channel that "pissedoffedness" into something more fruitful?

Interesting word, thats derivate, I thought, was a no-no around here. I got dinged for masked profanity on that one when I used a couple of these "$$".

;)

SteelSD
06-30-2005, 04:22 PM
How do you "know" she "targeted" anyone?
Maybe she did. Maybe she wrote a terrible paper (I've already noted that I would want to read the paper before forming any kind of opinion as to what kind of grade she deserved). But how do we "know' what her motives are?

I know she targeted someone because that's what she did and she's still doing it under the pretense that her First Amendment rights were violated the moment the professor put a condition on her use of a topic. That's complete ka-ka, but she's doing it anyway.

You don't openly defy direction and then blame someone for your own behavior without there being a target. Well, unless you're a sociopath. Then you don't really have a conscience and don't understand that your behavior affects others.

That's pretty much the choice. She either targetted someone for having the audacity for their views or she's a sociopath. I tend to sway toward the former explanation even though it appears that she appears to have little conscience. At minimum, she mistakenly felt that her "rights" had been violated the moment the professor put a condition on her topic and figured that she'd show him!

If that's not "targetting", I don't know what is.

BTW, the top point total she could have received was a score of 69 (unless I misread it) handing in her inappropriate version. She received a 49. She handed in a paper that, sans inappropriate content, would have been in the low "B" grade range. She received 49 points because that is the grade she deserved. I don't need to read her paper to realize that. And she got it because she felt that she was entitled to do whatever she liked.

Puffy
06-30-2005, 08:43 PM
OK - if I went to my English professor (George Grande) and told him I was writing a paper on "Language, Slang and the American Culture" and he approved it with the caveat that I could not use any "curse" words, especially the 7 words uttered by George Carlin in his famous comedy bit because it might offend people in class, when he really meant it would offend him.

If I handed in a paper with 41 F-bombs would anyone on this thread who agrees with this woman be on my side?

I think not - you would be saying I had instructions, I disobeyed them, I deserved the "F" and that were plenty of other ways I could have done this paper without the F-bombs.

But since this is a Christian thing everything gets turned upside down. There were plenty of other ways for this woman to discuss Religion and its effect on American govt, and she made a choice not to use them.

GAC
06-30-2005, 09:30 PM
OK, well, there are a number of polls that say...

Oh, well then, never mind.

And what evidence, pray tell, would you like to see then?

As I already stated - a Barna poll or any other poll ask questions that are very generalized and vague. It proves very, very little.

Jesus isn't gonna judge/evaluate men on polling data. ;)

Questions like...

Do you believe in God? (so do Muslims and other religions)

How often do you attend a church? (sitting in a pew means nothing. You've heard the ol saying that hanging out at church no more makes one a Christian then hanging out at McDonalds makes one a hamburger).

Do you believe in heaven?

Simple routine (and harmless) questions that prove nothing.

The only judge or scale that defines and lays done the criteria for what a Christian is/is not is the B-I-B-L-E.

It's not about what I or you or anyone one else thinks it is, might be, or should be. That is irrelevant. It had better line up with what Jesus (who is the head of the church) dictates and the apostles taught. Anything else is simply delusion.

After all (and I use the same argument used on here).... it is all about rules and parameters, understanding them, and obyeing them.

That student got what she deserved because after all that teacher/institution has the right to set those parameters and define the criteria. The student's obligation is to understand and follow them, and not attempt to change those rules to fit what she thinks they should be, simply because she doesn't like or agree with them. Her deliberate dissent and refusal to not do so is what got her in trouble. She deserved the "F". And it is pointless and useless to even question or ask WHY - they set the rules.

It's the same with Jesus. ;)

GAC
06-30-2005, 09:35 PM
OK - if I went to my English professor (George Grande) and told him I was writing a paper on "Language, Slang and the American Culture" and he approved it with the caveat that I could not use any "curse" words, especially the 7 words uttered by George Carlin in his famous comedy bit because it might offend people in class, when he really meant it would offend him.

If I handed in a paper with 41 F-bombs would anyone on this thread who agrees with this woman be on my side?

I think not - you would be saying I had instructions, I disobeyed them, I deserved the "F" and that were plenty of other ways I could have done this paper without the F-bombs.

But since this is a Christian thing everything gets turned upside down. There were plenty of other ways for this woman to discuss Religion and its effect on American govt, and she made a choice not to use them.

We've already gone over this Puffy. I, myself, agree. I'm not defending this women's actions. They were wrong.

I simply was asking WHY such a restrictive criteria was set forth? What ws the reasoning behind it? Do one is denying that this teacher didn't have the right to set rules. But was it being unreasonable.

And I haven't had the chance to go back and re-read (get caught up) on all that has been said/posted today - so if I missed anything I apologize - but is it true that this teacher is an avowed atheist? If so, could that have been influencial in them laying down such a criteria? She didn't want this student's beliefs to influence her paper - yet maybe his beliefs influenced him to lay down this criteria? maybe?

paintmered
06-30-2005, 11:01 PM
Two quick questions that really aren't loaded even though they may sound like it:

Would she have been okay if she used "Allah" in her paper rather than "God"? Was it specified prior to her writing the paper that the religion would be christianity or religion in general?

Falls City Beer
06-30-2005, 11:11 PM
Two quick questions that really aren't loaded even though they may sound like it:

Would she have been okay if she used "Allah" in her paper rather than "God"? Was it specified prior to her writing the paper that the religion would be christianity or religion in general?

Unfortunately, the article doesn't make this clear. But I think the professor's design was to promote thinking beyond immediate, personal, emotional self-reflections and instead urge dispassionate, objective, mature, contemplative insights.

savafan
07-01-2005, 01:49 AM
The professor's motivations are immaterial. We can only guess that he was her target and, as he's reported to be of an athiest mindset, he's a convenient one I guess. But we don't know. Maybe it was the kid from India sitting next to her. Might it have been the Iranian student two rows in front of her. Could have been the native Chinese girl up one row and to her left.

We don't know who. But we know that she maliciously targetted someone.

And that's all I really need to know about this one. Malicious intent. Dishonest actions. Blaming others for her own behavior. And she's using her Faith as a sheild. Wow. Just wow.

Maybe, just maybe, she actually believes what she wrote. Crazy thought, I know. As a Christian, if someone told me to write a paper about religion having no place in government, I don't think I could do it. Not because I believe that the U.S. government should demand that all citizens worship my God, I truly believe religous freedom is a great benefit to our society, but because to me, as a Christian, Jesus has to be a part of everything, whether I want Him to be or not. My faith isn't like a coat that I can take off at the door when I enter a classroom.

As for malicious intent and targetting someone in the class, perhaps she's just a believer of the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

Is it malicious to do that which we are commanded?

And I'll agree that Mrs. Hauf was wrong in the way that she undertook this. When the professor set the guidelines, she should have chosen a different topic.

savafan
07-01-2005, 02:05 AM
Here's a bit more on this topic. And just because it comes from worldnetdaily.com doesn't necessarily make it untrue.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45058

A college in southern California is now investigating the case of a student who says she was given an F for mentioning "God" against the expressed wishes of her atheist instructor.

Bethany Hauf, a freshman at Victor Valley Community College near San Bernadino, wrote the G-word 41 times in a paper titled "In God We Trust," examining the role of religion in government.

She included "God" despite being told not to by adjunct English instructor Michael Shefchik.

"He said it would offend others in class," Hauf, 34, told the Daily Press. "I didn't realize God was taboo."

The mother of four from Apple Valley, Calif., is now demanding an apology from the school, as well as a regrading of her 10-page report.

"I don't lose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," she said.

"We are very serious about this situation," VVC spokesman Bill Greulich told WorldNetDaily. "You have two rights in conflict – the right to believe in what you believe in, and academic freedom. We're going to take steps that are appropriate. We don't have all the facts yet."

Greulich says Hauf began the process to challenge her grade by meeting with the department chair, but did not continue up the chain of command in her recourse. He says she could still do that, appealing to the vice president, superintendent and president of the school.

Meanwhile, Hauf has contacted the American Center for Law & Justice, which sent a letter to Patricia Spencer, president of VVC.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ recounted in the letter what Shefchik wrote to Bethany when she was getting approval for her subject matter:

"I have one limiting factor – no mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation," Shefchik stated.

"He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny," Hauf told the Daily Press. "He wanted to censor the word God."

Shefchik has not been reached for comment, but Judy Solis, chair of the English department, says Hauf was given three options: submit the report with God included, make revisions and edit out the G-word, or rewrite the entire report.

"She continued to write her paper," Solis told the Press. "She knew what the consequences were."

Sekulow says Hauf should have had no ban on her freedom of speech or religious views in the assignment.

"Bethany's paper discusses some of the evidences supporting a hypothesis that, while the Constitution prohibits an established church, religion was essential to the founding of the Nation and to its governance thereafter," he writes.

"Her paper was not one written 'about God' per se. Nor was her paper inherently and necessarily religious. And, in keeping with the requirements of the assignment, it was assiduously supported with citations to authority and written objectively. Consequently, even if, in a country in which academic and constitutional freedoms are so highly prized, it could be constitutional to impose a topical ban on papers about big 'G' gods, it was sophomoric error to read Mrs. Hauf's research paper as falling within the prohibited zone."

Despite the failing mark on the paper, Hauf passed the spring-semester course with a final grade of C.

SteelSD
07-01-2005, 02:36 AM
Maybe, just maybe, she actually believes what she wrote. Crazy thought, I know. As a Christian, if someone told me to write a paper about religion having no place in government, I don't think I could do it. Not because I believe that the U.S. government should demand that all citizens worship my God, I truly believe religous freedom is a great benefit to our society, but because to me, as a Christian, Jesus has to be a part of everything, whether I want Him to be or not. My faith isn't like a coat that I can take off at the door when I enter a classroom.

Sure it isn't and that's not a bad thing. But please note that her professor only suggested that turn to her work. He allowed her to write about the influence of religion on government as long as she didn't position a Christian monotheistic slant to it. That being said, your Faith wouldn't allow you to lie for your own benefit.


As for malicious intent and targetting someone in the class, perhaps she's just a believer of the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

Is it malicious to do that which we are commanded?

In our civilization, as it exists, believing that the one true Christian God is the ultimate authority does not immunize us against lesser authority, particularly when that lesser authority is just- regardless of whether or not said lesser authority is a Believer. My father taught me that and I'm a preacher's kid.

What she did was absolutely malicious even in the loosest interpretation of the word. She anticipated that her actions would cause harm and, low and behold, here we are.

My sister is a math super-genius. Dunno where she got those genes. But I can guarantee that if her professor told her that she could not involve Christian monotheism in a paper on the history of religion's influence on mathematics, she could complete that project even though Christian monotheism has a whole heck of a lot to do with the attempted repression of mathematical concepts.

And if my sister ignored those instructions after appearing to acqiesce to them I'd have no problem indicting her as being just as malicious in her intent.


And I'll agree that Mrs. Hauf was wrong in the way that she undertook this. When the professor set the guidelines, she should have chosen a different topic.

Yep. I agree and that's where dishonesty and misplaced vengeance reared their ugly heads. With all intent and purpose, she lied about how she would complete the assignment, defied her instructor, and now wants to use the laws of man to justify her behavior which was, at it's essence, a sin.

That's a whole lot of inconsistent for someone who supposes to share the same Faith as this guy.

SteelSD
07-01-2005, 02:44 AM
"I don't lose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," she said.

No, you didn't. But then, you've never had the right to do whatever you want whenever you want to. You've never had the right to have a college-level assignment graded the way you want it to be. Sorry 'bout that.

Maybe next time instead of taking an English class you might want to take one that involves the Consitution and Bill of Rights instead?

Just a thought.

savafan
07-01-2005, 02:47 AM
The courts may back her up on this.

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/st-rts.html


In regards to day-to-day classwork, the courts have made a distinction between mere exposure to objectionable material and a school's attempt to coerce its students to adopt a particular political or religious viewpoint. Parents who can prove that coercion is taking place will have a much greater chance in court of forcing the school to accommodate to their beliefs by changing the school's practices. If coercion is not taking place, and a child is merely being exposed to objectionable material, being excused from the class is more likely.

On the positive side, Christian students do have the right to include religious topics and research in their school work when appropriate. In Florey vs. Sioux Falls School District, Circuit Judge McMillian clarified why students have the right to use religious materials in the classroom. He states that, "To allow students only to study and not to perform religious art, literature and music when such works have developed an independent secular and artistic significance would give students a truncated view of our culture." In another case titled the Committee for Public Education vs. Nyquist, the Supreme Court stated, "The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools. It is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited." When presented objectively any religious topic is fair game for both student and teacher. Indeed, both could make good use of this freedom in covering such topics as the religious views of our Founding Fathers, what role Christian thought has played in important issues such as slavery and abortion, and how Christian thought has been in conflict with other world views.

Students can be an effective instrument for reaching other students with the Gospel, but only if they are living consistently with what they believe. This is possible given the rights granted them by the U. S. Constitution. It is our job as parents to see that our schools protect the rights of our children not only to believe, but to live Christianly, for what good is freedom of religion if it covers only our private lives?


Perhaps the argument needs to be that the teacher's instructions violated her civil rights of freedom to speech. As a public school employee, the teacher may only censor student expression if it creates a material and substantial disruption to the school's ability to fulfill its educational goals. Writing about the role of religion in government, and in so doing referencing God, does not qualify as a material and substantial disruption.

The question in this case can not be distilled down to simply whether the student followed the instructor's rules. It is also about whether the instructor had the authority to impose the type of censorship at issue here. This was a content-based exclusion that is not permitted under the First (and Fourteenth) Amendment(s).

savafan
07-01-2005, 03:03 AM
Tinker et al. v. Des Moines
Independent Community School District et al.

Syllabus

Petitioners, three public school pupils in Des Moines, Iowa, were suspended from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Government's policy in Vietnam. They sought nominal damages and an injunction against a regulation that the respondents had promulgated banning the wearing of armbands. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the regulation was within the Board's power, despite the absence of any finding of substantial interference with the conduct of school activities. The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed by an equally divided court. Held:

1. In wearing armbands, the petitioners were quiet and passive. They were not disruptive and did not impinge upon the rights of others. In these circumstances, their conduct was within the protection of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth. Pp. 505-506.

2. First Amendment rights are available to teachers and students, subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. Pp. 506-507.

3. A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 507-514.

DISPOSITION: 383 F.2d 988, reversed and remanded. [504]

MR. JUSTICE FORTAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner John F. Tinker, 15 years old, and petitioner Christopher Eckhardt, 16 years old, attended high schools in Des Moines, Iowa. Petitioner Mary Beth Tinker, John's sister, was a 13-year-old student in junior high school.

In December 1965, a group of adults and students in Des Moines held a meeting at the Eckhardt home. The group determined to publicize their objections to the hostilities in Vietnam and their support for a truce by wearing black armbands during the holiday season and by fasting on December 16 and New Year's Eve. Petitioners and their parents had previously engaged in similar activities, and they decided to participate in the program.

The principals of the Des Moines schools became aware of the plan to wear armbands. On December 14, 1965, they met and adopted a policy that any student wearing an armband to school would be asked to remove it, and if he refused he would be suspended until he returned without the armband. Petitioners were aware of the regulation that the school authorities adopted.

On December 16, Mary Beth and Christopher wore black armbands to their schools. John Tinker wore his armband the next day. They were all sent home and suspended from school until they would come back without their armbands. They did not return to school until after the planned period for wearing armbands had expired--that is, until after New Year's Day.

This complaint was filed in the United States District Court by petitioners, through their fathers, under § 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code. It prayed for an injunction restraining the respondent school officials and the respondent members of the board of directors of the school district from disciplining the petitioners, and it sought nominal damages. After an evidentiary hearing the District Court dismissed the complaint. It upheld [505] the constitutionality of the school authorities' action on the ground that it was reasonable in order to prevent disturbance of school discipline. 258 F.Supp. 971 (1966). The court referred to but expressly declined to follow the Fifth Circuit's holding in a similar case that the wearing of symbols like the armbands cannot be prohibited unless it "materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school." Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744, 749 (1966). [note 1]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit considered the case en banc. The court was equally divided, and the District Court's decision was accordingly affirmed, without opinion. 383 F.2d 988 (1967). We granted certiorari. 390 U.S. 942 (1968).

I

The District Court recognized that the wearing of an armband for the purpose of expressing certain views is the type of symbolic act that is within the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. See West Virginia v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931). Cf. Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88 (1940); Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963); Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S. 131 (1966). As we shall discuss, the wearing of armbands in the circumstances of this case was entirely divorced from actually or potentially disruptive conduct by those participating in it. It was closely akin to "pure speech" [506] which, we have repeatedly held, is entitled to comprehensive protection under the First Amendment. Cf. Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 555 (1965); Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39 (1966).

First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years. In Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), and Bartels v. Iowa, 262 U.S. 404 (1923), this Court, in opinions by Mr. Justice McReynolds, held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevents States from forbidding the teaching of a foreign language to young students. Statutes to this effect, the Court held, unconstitutionally interfere with the liberty of teacher, student, and parent. [note 2] See also Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 [507] (1925); West Virginia v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948); Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 195 (1952) (concurring opinion); Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957); Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 487 (1960); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967); Epperson v. Arkansas, ante, p. 97 (1968).

In West Virginia v. Barnette, supra, this Court held that under the First Amendment, the student in public school may not be compelled to salute the flag. Speaking through Mr. Justice Jackson, the Court said:

"The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures--Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes." 319 U.S., at 637.

On the other hand, the Court has repeatedly emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools. See Epperson v. Arkansas, supra, at 104; Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, at 402. Our problem lies in the area where students in the exercise of First Amendment rights collide with the rules of the school authorities.

II

The problem posed by the present case does not relate to regulation of the length of skirts or the type of clothing, [508] to hair style, or deportment. Cf. Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, 392 F.2d 697 (1968); Pugsley v. Sellmeyer, 158 Ark. 247, 250 S. W. 538 (1923). It does not concern aggressive, disruptive action or even group demonstrations. Our problem involves direct, primary First Amendment rights akin to "pure speech."

The school officials banned and sought to punish petitioners for a silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of petitioners. There is here no evidence whatever of petitioners' interference, actual or nascent, with the schools' work or of collision with the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone. Accordingly, this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students.

Only a few of the 18,000 students in the school system wore the black armbands. Only five students were suspended for wearing them. There is no indication that the work of the schools or any class was disrupted. Outside the classrooms, a few students made hostile remarks to the children wearing armbands, but there were no threats or acts of violence on school premises.

The District Court concluded that the action of the school authorities was reasonable because it was based upon their fear of a disturbance from the wearing of the armbands. But, in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression. Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk, Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949); and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom--this kind of openness--that is [509] the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.

In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained. Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749.

In the present case, the District Court made no such finding, and our independent examination of the record fails to yield evidence that the school authorities had reason to anticipate that the wearing of the armbands would substantially interfere with the work of the school or impinge upon the rights of other students. Even an official memorandum prepared after the suspension that listed the reasons for the ban on wearing the armbands made no reference to the anticipation of such disruption. [note 3] [510]

On the contrary, the action of the school authorities appears to have been based upon an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression, even by the silent symbol of armbands, of opposition to this Nation's part in the conflagration in Vietnam. [note 4] It is revealing, in this respect, that the meeting at which the school principals decided to issue the contested regulation was called in response to a student's statement to the journalism teacher in one of the schools that he wanted to write an article on Vietnam and have it published in the school paper. (The student was dissuaded. [note 5])

It is also relevant that the school authorities did not purport to prohibit the wearing of all symbols of political or controversial significance. The record shows that students in some of the schools wore buttons relating to national political campaigns, and some even wore the Iron Cross, traditionally a symbol of Nazism. The order prohibiting the wearing of armbands did not extend to these. Instead, a particular symbol--black armbands worn to exhibit opposition to this Nation's involvement [511] in Vietnam--was singled out for prohibition. Clearly, the prohibition of expression of one particular opinion, at least without evidence that it is necessary to avoid material and substantial interference with schoolwork or discipline, is not constitutionally permissible.

In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views. As Judge Gewin, speaking for the Fifth Circuit, said, school officials cannot suppress "expressions of feelings with which they do not wish to contend." Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749.

In Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, at 402, Mr. Justice McReynolds expressed this Nation's repudiation of the principle that a State might so conduct its schools as to "foster a homogeneous people." He said:

"In order to submerge the individual and develop ideal citizens, Sparta assembled the males at seven into barracks and intrusted their subsequent education and training to official guardians. Although such measures have been deliberately approved by men of great genius, their ideas touching the relation between individual and State were wholly different from those upon which our institutions rest; and it hardly will be affirmed that any legislature could impose such restrictions upon the people of a [512] State without doing violence to both letter and spirit of the Constitution."

This principle has been repeated by this Court on numerous occasions during the intervening years. In Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589, 603, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, speaking for the Court, said:

"'The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.' Shelton v. Tucker, [364 U.S. 479,] at 487. The classroom is peculiarly the 'marketplace of ideas.' The Nation's future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth 'out of a multitude of tongues, [rather] than through any kind of authoritative selection.'"

The principle of these cases is not confined to the supervised and ordained discussion which takes place in the classroom. The principal use to which the schools are dedicated is to accommodate students during prescribed hours for the purpose of certain types of activities. Among those activities is personal intercommunication among the students. [note 6] This is not only an inevitable part of the process of attending school; it is also an important part of the educational process. A student's rights, therefore, do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on [513] the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects like the conflict in Vietnam, if he does so without "materially and substantially interfer[ing] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school" and without colliding with the rights of others. Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749. But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason--whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior--materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. Cf. Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, 363 F.2d 749 (C. A. 5th Cir. 1966).

Under our Constitution, free speech is not a right that is given only to be so circumscribed that it exists in principle but not in fact. Freedom of expression would not truly exist if the right could be exercised only in an area that a benevolent government has provided as a safe haven for crackpots. The Constitution says that Congress (and the States) may not abridge the right to free speech. This provision means what it says. We properly read it to permit reasonable regulation of speech-connected activities in carefully restricted circumstances. But we do not confine the permissible exercise of First Amendment rights to a telephone booth or the four corners of a pamphlet, or to supervised and ordained discussion in a school classroom.

If a regulation were adopted by school officials forbidding discussion of the Vietnam conflict, or the expression by any student of opposition to it anywhere on school property except as part of a prescribed classroom exercise, it would be obvious that the regulation would violate the constitutional rights of students, at least if it could not be justified by a showing that the students' activities would materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school. Cf. Hammond [514] v. South Carolina State College, 272 F.Supp. 947 (D. C. S. C. 1967) (orderly protest meeting on state college campus); Dickey v. Alabama State Board of Education, 273 F.Supp. 613 (D. C. M. D. Ala. 1967) (expulsion of student editor of college newspaper). In the circumstances of the present case, the prohibition of the silent, passive "witness of the armbands," as one of the children called it, is no less offensive to the Constitution's guarantees.

As we have discussed, the record does not demonstrate any facts which might reasonably have led school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and no disturbances or disorders on the school premises in fact occurred. These petitioners merely went about their ordained rounds in school. Their deviation consisted only in wearing on their sleeve a band of black cloth, not more than two inches wide. They wore it to exhibit their disapproval of the Vietnam hostilities and their advocacy of a truce, to make their views known, and, by their example, to influence others to adopt them. They neither interrupted school activities nor sought to intrude in the school affairs or the lives of others. They caused discussion outside of the classrooms, but no interference with work and no disorder. In the circumstances, our Constitution does not permit officials of the State to deny their form of expression.

We express no opinion as to the form of relief which should be granted, this being a matter for the lower courts to determine. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Reversed and remanded.

MR. JUSTICE STEWART, concurring.

Although I agree with much of what is said in the Court's opinion, and with its judgment in this case, I [515] cannot share the Court's uncritical assumption that, school discipline aside, the First Amendment rights of children are co-extensive with those of adults. Indeed, I had thought the Court decided otherwise just last Term in Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629. I continue to hold the view I expressed in that case: "[A] State may permissibly determine that, at least in some precisely delineated areas, a child--like someone in a captive audience--is not possessed of that full capacity for individual choice which is the presupposition of First Amendment guarantees." Id., at 649-650 (concurring in result). Cf. Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring.

While I join the Court's opinion, I deem it appropriate to note, first, that the Court continues to recognize a distinction between communicating by words and communicating by acts or conduct which sufficiently impinges on some valid state interest; and, second, that I do not subscribe to everything the Court of Appeals said about free speech in its opinion in Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744, 748 (C. A. 5th Cir. 1966), a case relied upon by the Court in the matter now before us.

MR. JUSTICE BLACK, dissenting.

The Court's holding in this case ushers in what I deem to be an entirely new era in which the power to control pupils by the elected "officials of state supported public schools . . ." in the United States is in ultimate effect transferred to the Supreme Court. [note 1] The Court brought [516] this particular case here on a petition for certiorari urging that the First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of school pupils to express their political views all the way "from kindergarten through high school." Here the constitutional right to "political expression" asserted was a right to wear black armbands during school hours and at classes in order to demonstrate to the other students that the petitioners were mourning because of the death of United States soldiers in Vietnam and to protest that war which they were against. Ordered to refrain from wearing the armbands in school by the elected school officials and the teachers vested with state authority to do so, apparently only seven out of the school system's 18,000 pupils deliberately refused to obey the order. One defying pupil was Paul Tinker, 8 years old, who was in the second grade; another, Hope Tinker, was 11 years old and in the fifth grade; a third member of the Tinker family was 13, in the eighth grade; and a fourth member of the same family was John Tinker, 15 years old, an 11th grade high school pupil. Their father, a Methodist minister without a church, is paid a salary by the American Friends Service Committee. Another student who defied the school order and insisted on wearing an armband in school was Christopher Eckhardt, an 11th grade pupil and a petitioner in this case. His mother is an official in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

As I read the Court's opinion it relies upon the following grounds for holding unconstitutional the judgment of the Des Moines school officials and the two courts below. First, the Court concludes that the wearing of armbands is "symbolic speech" which is "akin to 'pure speech'" and therefore protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Secondly, the Court decides that the public schools are an appropriate place to exercise "symbolic speech" as long as normal school functions [517] are not "unreasonably" disrupted. Finally, the Court arrogates to itself, rather than to the State's elected officials charged with running the schools, the decision as to which school disciplinary regulations are "reasonable."

Assuming that the Court is correct in holding that the conduct of wearing armbands for the purpose of conveying political ideas is protected by the First Amendment, cf., e.g., Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490 (1949), the crucial remaining questions are whether students and teachers may use the schools at their whim as a platform for the exercise of free speech--"symbolic" or "pure"--and whether the courts will allocate to themselves the function of deciding how the pupils' school day will be spent. While I have always believed that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments neither the State nor the Federal Government has any authority to regulate or censor the content of speech, I have never believed that any person has a right to give speeches or engage in demonstrations where he pleases and when he pleases. This Court has already rejected such a notion. In Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 554 (1965), for example, the Court clearly stated that the rights of free speech and assembly "do not mean that everyone with opinions or beliefs to express may address a group at any public place and at any time."

While the record does not show that any of these armband students shouted, used profane language, or were violent in any manner, detailed testimony by some of them shows their armbands caused comments, warnings by other students, the poking of fun at them, and a warning by an older football player that other, nonprotesting students had better let them alone. There is also evidence that a teacher of mathematics had his lesson period practically "wrecked" chiefly by disputes with Mary Beth Tinker, who wore her armband for her "demonstration." [518] Even a casual reading of the record shows that this armband did divert students' minds from their regular lessons, and that talk, comments, etc., made John Tinker "self-conscious" in attending school with his armband. While the absence of obscene remarks or boisterous and loud disorder perhaps justifies the Court's statement that the few armband students did not actually "disrupt" the classwork, I think the record overwhelmingly shows that the armbands did exactly what the elected school officials and principals foresaw they would, that is, took the students' minds off their classwork and diverted them to thoughts about the highly emotional subject of the Vietnam war. And I repeat that if the time has come when pupils of state-supported schools, kindergartens, grammar schools, or high schools, can defy and flout orders of school officials to keep their minds on their own schoolwork, it is the beginning of a new revolutionary era of permissiveness in this country fostered by the judiciary. The next logical step, it appears to me, would be to hold unconstitutional laws that bar pupils under 21 or 18 from voting, or from being elected members of the boards of education. [note 2]

The United States District Court refused to hold that the state school order violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 258 F.Supp. 971. Holding that the protest was akin to speech, which is protected by the First [519] and Fourteenth Amendments, that court held that the school order was "reasonable" and hence constitutional. There was at one time a line of cases holding "reasonableness" as the court saw it to be the test of a "due process" violation. Two cases upon which the Court today heavily relies for striking down this school order used this test of reasonableness, Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), and Bartels v. Iowa, 262 U.S. 404 (1923). The opinions in both cases were written by Mr. Justice McReynolds; Mr. Justice Holmes, who opposed this reasonableness test, dissented from the holdings as did Mr. Justice Sutherland. This constitutional test of reasonableness prevailed in this Court for a season. It was this test that brought on President Franklin Roosevelt's well-known Court fight. His proposed legislation did not pass, but the fight left the "reasonableness" constitutional test dead on the battlefield, so much so that this Court in Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 729, 730, after a thorough review of the old cases, was able to conclude in 1963:

"There was a time when the Due Process Clause was used by this Court to strike down laws which were thought unreasonable, that is, unwise or incompatible with some particular economic or social philosophy.

. . . .

"The doctrine that prevailed in Lochner, Coppage, Adkins, Burns, and like cases--that due process authorizes courts to hold laws unconstitutional when they believe the legislature has acted unwisely--has long since been discarded."

The Ferguson case totally repudiated the old reasonableness-due process test, the doctrine that judges have the power to hold laws unconstitutional upon the belief of judges that they "shock the conscience" or that they are [520] "unreasonable," "arbitrary," "irrational," "contrary to fundamental 'decency,'" or some other such flexible term without precise boundaries. I have many times expressed my opposition to that concept on the ground that it gives judges power to strike down any law they do not like. If the majority of the Court today, by agreeing to the opinion of my Brother FORTAS, is resurrecting that old reasonableness-due process test, I think the constitutional change should be plainly, unequivocally, and forthrightly stated for the benefit of the bench and bar. It will be a sad day for the country, I believe, when the present-day Court returns to the McReynolds due process concept. Other cases cited by the Court do not, as implied, follow the McReynolds reasonableness doctrine. West Virginia v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, clearly rejecting the "reasonableness" test, held that the Fourteenth Amendment made the First applicable to the States, and that the two forbade a State to compel little schoolchildren to salute the United States flag when they had religious scruples against doing so. [note 3] Neither Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88; Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359; Edwards [521] v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229; nor Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S. 131, related to schoolchildren at all, and none of these cases embraced Mr. Justice McReynolds' reasonableness test; and Thornhill, Edwards, and Brown relied on the vagueness of state statutes under scrutiny to hold them unconstitutional. Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 555, and Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39, cited by the Court as a "compare," indicating, I suppose, that these two cases are no longer the law, were not rested to the slightest extent on the Meyer and Bartels "reasonableness-due process-McReynolds" constitutional test.

I deny, therefore, that it has been the "unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years" that "students" and "teachers" take with them into the "schoolhouse gate" constitutional rights to "freedom of speech or expression." Even Meyer did not hold that. It makes no reference to "symbolic speech" at all; what it did was to strike down as "unreasonable" and therefore unconstitutional a Nebraska law barring the teaching of the German language before the children reached the eighth grade. One can well agree with Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Sutherland, as I do, that such a law was no more unreasonable than it would be to bar the teaching of Latin and Greek to pupils who have not reached the eighth grade. In fact, I think the majority's reason for invalidating the Nebraska law was that it did not like it or in legal jargon that it "shocked the Court's conscience," "offended its sense of justice," or was "contrary to fundamental concepts of the English-speaking world," as the Court has sometimes said. See, e.g., Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165, and Irvine v. California, 347 U.S. 128. The truth is that a teacher of kindergarten, grammar school, or high school pupils no more carries into a school with him a complete right to freedom of speech and expression than an anti-Catholic or anti-Semite carries with him a complete freedom of [522] speech and religion into a Catholic church or Jewish synagogue. Nor does a person carry with him into the United States Senate or House, or into the Supreme Court, or any other court, a complete constitutional right to go into those places contrary to their rules and speak his mind on any subject he pleases. It is a myth to say that any person has a constitutional right to say what he pleases, where he pleases, and when he pleases. Our Court has decided precisely the opposite. See, e.g., Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 555; Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39.

In my view, teachers in state-controlled public schools are hired to teach there. Although Mr. Justice McReynolds may have intimated to the contrary in Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, certainly a teacher is not paid to go into school and teach subjects the State does not hire him to teach as a part of its selected curriculum. Nor are public school students sent to the schools at public expense to broadcast political or any other views to educate and inform the public. The original idea of schools, which I do not believe is yet abandoned as worthless or out of date, was that children had not yet reached the point of experience and wisdom which enabled them to teach all of their elders. It may be that the Nation has outworn the old-fashioned slogan that "children are to be seen not heard," but one may, I hope, be permitted to harbor the thought that taxpayers send children to school on the premise that at their age they need to learn, not teach.

The true principles on this whole subject were in my judgment spoken by Mr. Justice McKenna for the Court in Waugh v. Mississippi University in 237 U.S. 589, 596-597. The State had there passed a law barring students from peaceably assembling in Greek letter fraternities and providing that students who joined them could be expelled from school. This law would appear on the surface to run afoul of the First Amendment's [523] freedom of assembly clause. The law was attacked as violative of due process and of the privileges and immunities clause and as a deprivation of property and of liberty, under the Fourteenth Amendment. It was argued that the fraternity made its members more moral, taught discipline, and inspired its members to study harder and to obey better the rules of discipline and order. This Court rejected all the "fervid" pleas of the fraternities' advocates and decided unanimously against these Fourteenth Amendment arguments. The Court in its next to the last paragraph made this statement which has complete relevance for us today:

"It is said that the fraternity to which complainant belongs is a moral and of itself a disciplinary force. This need not be denied. But whether such membership makes against discipline was for the State of Mississippi to determine. It is to be remembered that the University was established by the State and is under the control of the State, and the enactment of the statute may have been induced by the opinion that membership in the prohibited societies divided the attention of the students and distracted from that singleness of purpose which the State desired to exist in its public educational institutions. It is not for us to entertain conjectures in opposition to the views of the State and annul its regulations upon disputable considerations of their wisdom or necessity." (Emphasis supplied.)

It was on the foregoing argument that this Court sustained the power of Mississippi to curtail the First Amendment's right of peaceable assembly. And the same reasons are equally applicable to curtailing in the States' public schools the right to complete freedom of expression. Iowa's public schools, like Mississippi's university, are operated to give students an opportunity to learn, not to talk politics by actual speech, or by "symbolic" [524] speech. And, as I have pointed out before, the record amply shows that public protest in the school classes against the Vietnam war "distracted from that singleness of purpose which the State [here Iowa] desired to exist in its public educational institutions." Here the Court should accord Iowa educational institutions the same right to determine for themselves to what extent free expression should be allowed in its schools as it accorded Mississippi with reference to freedom of assembly. But even if the record were silent as to protests against the Vietnam war distracting students from their assigned class work, members of this Court, like all other citizens, know, without being told, that the disputes over the wisdom of the Vietnam war have disrupted and divided this country as few other issues ever have. Of course students, like other people, cannot concentrate on lesser issues when black armbands are being ostentatiously displayed in their presence to call attention to the wounded and dead of the war, some of the wounded and the dead being their friends and neighbors. It was, of course, to distract the attention of other students that some students insisted up to the very point of their own suspension from school that they were determined to sit in school with their symbolic armbands.

Change has been said to be truly the law of life but sometimes the old and the tried and true are worth holding. The schools of this Nation have undoubtedly contributed to giving us tranquility and to making us a more law-abiding people. Uncontrolled and uncontrollable liberty is an enemy to domestic peace. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that some of the country's greatest problems are crimes committed by the youth, too many of school age. School discipline, like parental discipline, is an integral and important part of training our children to be good citizens--to be better citizens. Here a very small number of students have crisply and summarily [525] refused to obey a school order designed to give pupils who want to learn the opportunity to do so. One does not need to be a prophet or the son of a prophet to know that after the Court's holding today some students in Iowa schools and indeed in all schools will be ready, able, and willing to defy their teachers on practically all orders. This is the more unfortunate for the schools since groups of students all over the land are already running loose, conducting break-ins, sit-ins, lie-ins, and smash-ins. Many of these student groups, as is all too familiar to all who read the newspapers and watch the television news programs, have already engaged in rioting, property seizures, and destruction. They have picketed schools to force students not to cross their picket lines and have too often violently attacked earnest but frightened students who wanted an education that the pickets did not want them to get. Students engaged in such activities are apparently confident that they know far more about how to operate public school systems than do their parents, teachers, and elected school officials. It is no answer to say that the particular students here have not yet reached such high points in their demands to attend classes in order to exercise their political pressures. Turned loose with lawsuits for damages and injunctions against their teachers as they are here, it is nothing but wishful thinking to imagine that young, immature students will not soon believe it is their right to control the schools rather than the right of the States that collect the taxes to hire the teachers for the benefit of the pupils. This case, therefore, wholly without constitutional reasons in my judgment, subjects all the public schools in the country to the whims and caprices of their loudest-mouthed, but maybe not their brightest, students. I, for one, am not fully persuaded that school pupils are wise enough, even with this Court's expert help from Washington, to run the 23,390 public school [526] systems [note 4] in our 50 States. I wish, therefore, wholly to disclaim any purpose on my part to hold that the Federal Constitution compels the teachers, parents, and elected school officials to surrender control of the American public school system to public school students. I dissent.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, dissenting.

I certainly agree that state public school authorities in the discharge of their responsibilities are not wholly exempt from the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment respecting the freedoms of expression and association. At the same time I am reluctant to believe that there is any disagreement between the majority and myself on the proposition that school officials should be accorded the widest authority in maintaining discipline and good order in their institutions. To translate that proposition into a workable constitutional rule, I would, in cases like this, cast upon those complaining the burden of showing that a particular school measure was motivated by other than legitimate school concerns--for example, a desire to prohibit the expression of an unpopular point of view, while permitting expression of the dominant opinion.

Finding nothing in this record which impugns the good faith of respondents in promulgating the armband regulation, I would affirm the judgment below.

savafan
07-01-2005, 03:07 AM
Oh, and

http://www.vvc.edu/about_campus/index.htm

Simply put, at Victor Valley College everything is based on one primary foundation: "The Student Is Always First!"

:evil:

SteelSD
07-01-2005, 03:12 AM
The courts may back her up on this.

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/st-rts.html

Perhaps the argument needs to be that the teacher's instructions violated her civil rights of freedom to speech. As a public school employee, the teacher may only censor student expression if it creates a material and substantial disruption to the school's ability to fulfill its educational goals. Writing about the role of religion in government, and in so doing referencing God, does not qualify as a material and substantial disruption.

The question in this case can not be distilled down to simply whether the student followed the instructor's rules. It is also about whether the instructor had the authority to impose the type of censorship at issue here. This was a content-based exclusion that is not permitted under the First (and Fourteenth) Amendment(s).

Sava, you're looking at a High School case. There's a distinct difference between a public HS employee and a college professor. There's also, of course, a distinct difference between a HS student and a college student (who chose to apply for admission to that college).

Furthermore, the student's assignment does not fall under the "freedom of expression" clause. And, even further, "freedom of expression" does not include grading assigned to said expression. The woman's rights were not at all limited and she was given the option to turn in a paper that included her freedom of expression.

Any argument deriving from that case is a non-starter on so many levels.

savafan
07-01-2005, 03:46 AM
ROSENBERGER v. UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=515&page=819

to scrutinize the content of student speech, lest the expression in question – speech otherwise protected by the Constitution – contain too great a religious content . . . That eventuality raises the specter of governmental censorship, to ensure that all student writings and publications meet some baseline standard of secular orthodoxy. To impose that standard on student speech . . . is to imperil the very sources of free speech and expression.

SandyD
07-01-2005, 06:58 AM
A term paper for a college writing class is an exercise in research and critical thinking as well as expression. Professors frequently place limitations on paper topics to help challenge the student to broaden their minds. I believe I've been asked to argue against my personal beliefs on more than one occasion in classes such as these.

And professors are generally more than willing to work with a student who asks for help in meeting the guidelines. If this student had gone to the professor ahead of time with an outline and a paragraph or two where she wanted to use the "big 'G' god", he might have been willing to modify the rules.

A paper that's being turned in for an assignment doesn't really come under the first amendment ... she can write and publish a paper using "God" all she wants. But this was an assignment with established guidelines.

If that were the case, how could a professor turn down or limit any paper topic at all?

RFS62
07-01-2005, 07:10 AM
I appreciate and understand the passion behind the supporters of this lady, as many of them are friends of mine.

I still think it's being overcomplicated.

The teacher set the guidelines. The student chose to defy the teacher.

F

RedFanAlways1966
07-01-2005, 07:43 AM
Nicely said, '62.

I still wonder, somewhere in the back of my mind... what would be the public outcry if the exact same situation took place, but the same teacher told an Islamic student from Syria that he/she could not include the words Quran or Allah (or would the teacher even make the same rules for an Islamic student)?

Would it be ironic if some of the people arguing on each side of the real story would be on the other side in that case?

We'll never know...

registerthis
07-01-2005, 09:35 AM
Nicely said, '62.

I still wonder, somewhere in the back of my mind... what would be the public outcry if the exact same situation took place, but the same teacher told an Islamic student from Syria that he/she could not include the words Quran or Allah (or would the teacher even make the same rules for an Islamic student)?
Most likely, some Muslim legal aid society would pick up her case and claim that her First Amendment rights were being violated.

Crash Davis
07-01-2005, 10:06 AM
Oh, and

http://www.vvc.edu/about_campus/index.htm

Simply put, at Victor Valley College everything is based on one primary foundation: "The Student Is Always First!"

:evil:

Exactly. And what was best for this student was to learn to think for herself...even (or especially) at 34 years of age.

It obviously hasn't worked yet, but there's still time as long as Victor Valley keeps putting her learning first...as this teacher did.

Even with the solid effort this teacher has given in trying to get Ms. Hauf to do research, examine all the issues related to the topic and do some actual critical thinking, I wouln't hold my breath...

savafan
07-01-2005, 11:00 AM
I have shown that the Supreme Court of the United States has said that a teacher can't place such a restriction on a student, and yet you still stick to the story that she didn't follow the rules, she gets an F. Why can't you see that it is much more than that?

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 11:11 AM
I have shown that the Supreme Court of the United States has said that a teacher can't place such a restriction on a student, and yet you still stick to the story that she didn't follow the rules, she gets an F. Why can't you see that it is much more than that?

It isn't more than that. It really isn't. College isn't compulsory education the way a public high school is. You have to be in high school; you don't have to be in college.

ochre
07-01-2005, 11:13 AM
Concepts are not confined to one single particle of vocabulary. I suppose the Supreme Court would like to rule on every critical thinking exercise that involves expressing oneself in a way that is different from the normal approach said person takes?

The conditions presented for writing the paper by the teacher are not the same as what the court ruled on. There is no oppression of faith occuring here. She was fully free to express her faith using terms other than the one she was asked/required to avoid.

registerthis
07-01-2005, 11:13 AM
I have shown that the Supreme Court of the United States has said that a teacher can't place such a restriction on a student, and yet you still stick to the story that she didn't follow the rules, she gets an F. Why can't you see that it is much more than that?\
I assume you're referring to this:


He states that, "To allow students only to study and not to perform religious art, literature and music when such works have developed an independent secular and artistic significance would give students a truncated view of our culture." In another case titled the Committee for Public Education vs. Nyquist, the Supreme Court stated, "The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools. It is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited."
...which doesn't apply to the matter at hand. The student wasn't forbidden from discussing religion at all. In fact, her professor approved the topic. She was forbidden only to mention "God."

i don't see any trampling on the first amendment rights of this individual.

M2
07-01-2005, 11:14 AM
You know what *I* find interesting?

Everyone, go do a Google search for "Bethany Hauf".

Now, show me one single link to a legitimate news site that picked up this story. Just one would suffice. I'm not talking about the AP< Reuters, UPI, etc...show me a local paper, magazine, or whomever that actually ran this.

The only sites I am able to find that actually ran this story are blogs, the ACLJ website, and other similar sites that could hardly be considered fair or unbiased.

Then again, this is all probably part of the vast anti-Christian conspiracy to keep this story out of the press. :rolleyes:

Exactly. It's trumped-up right wing phony journalism. For instance, how can Shefchik, who's not interviewed for the story, be a "self-described atheist?"

Right there, if you knew nothing else about the source of the news report, would tell you that a hack had written the piece.

And the only words we have from Shefchik on this entire matter come from an e-mail he sent to the student.


“I have one limiting factor,” wrote Shefchik, “no mention of the big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.”

Hey, that's perfectly reasonable. BTW, it also doesn't prohibit use of the word "God" where appropriate (e.g. in a founding father quote, etc.), which is what I suspected to be the case from the outset. The rest is the word of the idiot student who already admits to turning in a paper she was warned would land her nothing higher than a 69.

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 11:22 AM
Exactly. It's trumped-up right wing phony journalism. For instance, how can Shefchik, who's not interviewed for the story, be a "self-described atheist?"

Right there, if you knew nothing else about the source of the news report, would tell you that a hack had written the piece.

And the only words we have from Shefchik on this entire matter come from an e-mail he sent to the student.



Hey, that's perfectly reasonable. The rest is the word of the idiot student who already admits to turning in a paper she was warned would land her nothing higher than a 69.

No kidding. The reason no real news source has snagged this story is that it's not a story. Not even Fox has picked this up.

Chip R
07-01-2005, 11:23 AM
No kidding. The reason no real news source has snagged this story is that it's not a story. Not even Fox has picked this up.Yet.

westofyou
07-01-2005, 11:24 AM
Yet.

I bet there is an intern in the colleges dumpster right now.

Falls City Beer
07-01-2005, 11:25 AM
Yet.

If this story hasn't been picked up yet (this story is days old), it's not going to be. Unless this activist group that's taking her "case" screams loud enough and long enough. At which point, the news source would be reporting on the screaming and not the essence of the case itself and its controversy.

But I suppose there's no question this country is more concerned with the sizzle than the steak.

SteelSD
07-01-2005, 11:58 AM
I have shown that the Supreme Court of the United States has said that a teacher can't place such a restriction on a student, and yet you still stick to the story that she didn't follow the rules, she gets an F. Why can't you see that it is much more than that?

Yet, she was allowed to submit her version of the paper- i.e. her right to "expression" was not violated. It wasn't violated in the first place because universities and professors have a right to place restrictions on assignments.

In it's simplest form, that concept manifests itself in any class in any university in any state in this country. The very fact that we have classes like "Algebra 101" is a perfect example because those classes exist as topic-restricted environments.

Using your logic, a student in Algebra 101 could answer every assigned problem with the word "God" and not expect to be marked off for it. A student in Biology 101 could answer every question on an essay test dealing with evolutionary theory by explaining how evolution is a bunch of bunk. He'd fail that test and rightfully so, but not because his "rights" were being violated.

Oh, the students in those two scenarios above would have every "right" to answer the questions as I outlined above. But they would have no right to expect that their answers would be marked as being correct given the assignment parameters.

This woman was allowed to express herself and ended up submitting unacceptable material because she chose to express herself outside the clearly defined assignment parameters.

Freedom of expression does not carry with it consequence immunization.

It's absolutely that cut-and-dry.

dsmith421
07-01-2005, 12:00 PM
I have shown that the Supreme Court of the United States has said that a teacher can't place such a restriction on a student, and yet you still stick to the story that she didn't follow the rules, she gets an F. Why can't you see that it is much more than that?

No you haven't. You've quoted some precedent of at best questionable relevance, but you've still not given us a case on point that shows a specific professor's guidelines for a project violating a student's free speech right or the establishment clause. RedsBaron probably has more experience in this topic than me, so I would bow to his interpretation, however.

Rosenberger was about student publications in a public or quasi-public forum. That's not at issue here. This is a term paper that is not for publication--it's an academic exercise. No one is trampling upon this woman's religious freedom--no one is keeping her from going to church, praying before exams, trying to convert her classmates, holding a Bible study class, declaiming verses from Revelation .in the hallway, etc. She was subject to a specific academic guideline. She had ample opportunity to change her topic, to challenge the guideline with the professor or the department chair, or work out a compromise. Instead, she tried to make herself Joan of Arc.

And as for RFA's typically hamfisted shot at liberals on the last page, I'd be defending the professor here if the student was Muslim, Hindu, or Scientologist, or anything else.

savafan
07-09-2005, 04:21 AM
Here is the term paper that we so hotly debated.


Bethany Hauf
Professor M. Shefchik
English 101
3 June 2005

“In God We Trust”

Throughout the history of the world, nations have structured their societies, lived, and died in the name of their god. While religious beliefs and practices vary from society to society, no known society in the history of mankind has existed without practicing or believing in some form of religion. Faith in a higher power has long been considered essential to provide psychological security and understanding to humans in times of crisis such as death, disease and other struggles of life. The United States of America is no exception. In America, we can see throughout history, as well as today, how the Christian faith has inspired our government and contributed to our popular culture.
As the Pilgrims prepared to land at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, they drafted a basic compact in which they expressed their intents for the new colony. They wrote:

“In the name of God, amen. We whose names are underwritten… Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith… and honor or our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God…”(Crismier 60).

For many people, propagating Christianity and seeking religious freedom from the Church of England were primary reasons they braved the treacherous, sixty-six day, Atlantic crossing to come to America. They made the long journey knowing they were only given a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Over a hundred years later, to protect their new found freedom thousands of settlers lost their lives fighting against the British Army in the Revolutionary War. America won the war against England and on July 4, 1776, she officially declared her independence.

After the colonies were established, we can see how the Christian religion inspired our founding fathers and government leaders by looking at the acts, quotes, and excerpts from their letters and historical documents regarding political matters. In 1774, the first assembly of the Congressional Congress was held; the first official act was a call to prayer. Three of the thirty-six congressional representatives opposed the prayer. Because the group was composed of men from diverse religious sentiments, such as Episcopalians, Quaker, Anabaptist, Presbyterians and Congregationalists it was felt they could not join in the same act of worship. (Ford) However, after discussion, it was agreed they collectively stood for the same principals and ultimately worshiped the same god. With mutual understanding of their differences, prayers were read respecting the varied denominations (Davis). Prayer occurred as a custom practice in federal government assemblies and could be seen throughout state government as well.

After drafting the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams stood up and said to the colonists “We have, this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone, men ought to be obedient.” Later Adams went on to say, “The rights of the colonists as Christians are best understood by reading and carefully studying the New Testament” (Williams)

Adams was not alone in his allegiance to God. The founding fathers were devoted Christians as well. We can see through their private and political works divine inspiration. Now, independent from England, the task of forming a new government was at hand. In 1787, fifty-five delegates who are referred to as the founding fathers wrote the U.S Constitution. The unanimous basis for the Constitution can be summarized in the Constitution’s preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Our leaders looked to the Bible for inspiration and guidance. The scripture from the Bible, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:7), was taken to heart. A strong religious belief, professed by the founding fathers, influenced the government and its people to believe the absolute necessity of recognizing that their god is the only true granter of liberty. The blessings, mentioned in the U.S Constitution preamble were believed to be a gift from God. As evidence that our founding fathers and early leaders understood the interplay of religion and government, note the following quotations: (www.alliancedefensefund.org).

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
Thomas Jefferson: “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty. . . . Students’ perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
Andrew Jackson: “That Book [the Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
Ulysses S. Grant: “Hold fast to the Bible. . . . To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

Christian settlers did not forget the religious oppression they themselves suffered under the Church of England. They knew how valuable religious freedom was as well as the importance of keeping the government out of the churches affairs. In 1791, four years after the U.S. constitution was created, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was implemented:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment, among other rights, gave our country the freedom to practice any chosen religion or no religion without prosecution. In addition to individual freedom, the First Amendment protected the church from government interference. Thomas Jefferson was a vocal proponent against the government establishing and enforcing a national church. Below is an excerpt of Thomas Jefferson’s writings from the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom:
"Almighty God has created the mind free and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint... All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion who, being Lord of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone.”
Jefferson was known to be an uninhibited intellect. Although raised Episcopalian, he studied various religions and encouraged exploration of the truths. Jefferson’s philosophies have been brought into the never-ending debate over the separation of church and state. However, Jefferson’s opinion about God still speaks; for his words are inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial in our nation’s capital: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our government was founded and developed by men of Christian faith. Like Jefferson, the federal government recognized the importance of God. However, the government would be hypocritical to enforce their beliefs through law and prosecution. If people chose to stray from the Christian majority, it was their given right to do so. Nevertheless, the government, as a whole, stood firm on the belief that God was their divine ruler. In addition to the federal government, forty-seven states also recognized a supreme higher power, to whom they gave homage. In the state’s acknowledgement of the U.S. Constitution, they professed their faith in God; below are just a few examples:
California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom ...

North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ...

West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...
In all of the forty-seven sates’ acknowledgments to the U.S Constitution, they professed their dependence and gratitude to God in similar fashion to the examples above. Both the federal and state government believed God to be their sovereign ruler and the granter of liberty. The government knew the significance God had to the people; and how important He was in maintaining a moral society. James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, said, “We have staked the whole of our political institution on the capacity of mankind to govern themselves according to the ten commandments of God” (Benjamin 18). It is clear, through historical documents, that the Christian religion inspired the leaders of America to create a government and culture based on Biblical teachings and Christian principles.

Over two hundred years later, we can still see the Christian heritage alive in our government and society today. In our government, we see religion in our laws, political leader’s actions, and public institutions. Laws concerning same sex marriage, sodomy, death penalty, prostitution, bestiality, and abortion, just to name a few, are all implemented to not only protect others but to enforce a moral society based on Biblical teachings. Congress creates statutory law. Today, every meeting of Congress opens with a prayer to God for his guidance and blessings. A publicly acknowledged allegiance is seen between our government leaders and God. For example, in Presidents George H. Bush’s inaugural speech, his first act as President was to ask all to bow their heads and pray. He publicized the following words for the country to hear:

“Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields the day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: "Use power to help people.” For we are given power not to advance our own purposes. nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one Just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us to remember It, Lord. Amen.” (www.bartleby.com).

Likewise, all U.S. Presidents and many elected officials take an oath on the Holy Bible as they are sworn into office.

The Christian heritage of this nation is evidenced not only in the actions and words of our leaders, but in the government buildings themselves. The Ten Commandments hang over the head of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In the House and Senate Chambers appear the words, “In God We Trust.” On the walls of the Capitol Dome appear the words, “The New Testament according to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Engraved on the metal cap on the top of the Washington Monument are the words “Praise be to God,” and numerous Bible verses line the walls of the stairwell. A full statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, as the great lawyer of history, stands in the Supreme Courthouse Chambers.

God has been paid tribute through our Government leader’s actions, government monuments and with-in our society as well. Holidays, songs, slogans, and mottos in praise of God have been adopted with the assistance and support of the government. On November 2, 1782, the continental Congress Thanksgiving Proclamation was passed. It was a day set aside by our government to give thanks to God. Congress stated: “...We hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of Thursday the twenty-eight day of November next, as a day of solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to God for his goodness…in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general.” (Weare).

Over 120 years later, Thanksgiving is still a national holiday, celebrated by millions by the acts of customs and traditions with gratitude to God. In 1775, Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. The call to prayer has continued through our history. In 1988, a bill passed by congress and signed by President Reagan, set aside the first Thursday of every May as a Nation Day of Prayer. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. All fifty state governors also sign similar proclamations. We can credit the government for making Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer a recognized national holiday. In addition, the United States government identifies other religious holidays such as Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas by closing schools and Government offices in remembrance and respect.

Holidays are not the only area we find religion endorsed by our government. In 1954, an act of Congress changed our Pledge of Allegiance to The Flag to include the words: “One Nation Under God.” Similarly, a law passed by the 84th Congress on July 30, 1956, declared “In God We Trust” as the national motto of the United States. The motto, “In God We Trust” was first used on paper money in 1957. By a vote of 401-5, the House of Representatives, on Oct. 8, 2002, completed Congressional approval of a bill reaffirming the reference to "one Nation under God.” (Usgovinfo).

Moreover, our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, pays tribute to God, as seen in the last verse:

“O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Today, approximately 84% of Americans identify with some form of Christianity, including those who say they are Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, or some other Christian religion. This estimate is based on a compilation of over 12,000 interviews conducted by Gallup in 2004. Religious traditions including songs and acts of worship can be witnessed daily in America. Church attendance is higher than in any other industrialized nation. Attendance in the U.S. is twice that of Canada and nearly four times that of many European countries. (www.religioustolerance.org).

Despite the fallacy that our founding fathers did not intend for this country to be a Christian nation, several U.S. Supreme Court cases have rebutted the notion that church and state don’t and shouldn’t exist in harmony with each other. These findings can be seen in the U.S Supreme Court Opinions listed below”

1892 Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”
1952 Zoarach v. Clauson: “The First Amendment does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of church and state. . . . We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.”
1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman: “Separation is not possible in the absolute sense. Some relationship between government and religious organizations is inevitable.”
Additionally, in the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court Opinion on Wallace v. Jaffree, the chief justice stated it: “The ‘wall of separation between church and state’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”

In conclusion, it is evident that the belief in the Christian God had an influence on our founding fathers and our government leaders As evidenced above, the belief in God and the Holy Bible influenced our government in the creation of our laws, our traditions, and ultimately our moral society. His Influence was thought to be essential, by the founding fathers, to give our leaders support and guidance. This influence is still seen at work in our modern culture. Although the Articles of Confederation did not officially authorize Congress to concern itself with religion, the people did not object to such activities. This lack of objection suggests that both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational form of Christianity. The authors of the First Amendment intended for a differentiation between the church and the government. However, it is improbable to think with so much evidence as to the leaders’ religious convictions that they wanted to see a country without a presence of God, and its people living in ignorance to the Holy Scripture.

Works Cited

Alliance Defense Fund. “America’s Founders Acknowledged God”. 14 May 2005.
Bartly.Com. “Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States 1989” Address”. May 20, 2005. < http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres63.html>
Benjamin Hart, Faith &Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty San Bernardino, CA Here’s Life Publishers, 1988, 18
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States. 143 U.S. 457, 12 S.Ct. 511, 36 L.Ed. 226 (1892)
Crismier, Charles. Preserve Us A Nation. Gresham, Oregon: Vision House Publishing, Inc. 1994. 60
Davis, H. Derek. Religion and the Continental Congress 1774-1789: Contributions to original Intent. Oxford England: Oxford Press, 2000. 26-27.
Ford, W.C. ed. Journals of the Continental Congress Volume I 1774-1789. Washington DC: Government Printing Office 1904. 26-27
Holy Bible: St. Joseph Edition. “2 Corinthians 3:7” New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1986.
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 ( 1971)
Robinson, B.A. Religious Tolerance.Org. “How Many People Go Regularly to Weekly Religious Services” Ontario Consultants on religious Tolerance. 26 Mar. 2001. 7 May 2005 .
U.S. Gov Info / Resources. “Congress Confirms ‘God’ in Pledge, Motto”. 14 May 2005
Weare, M. Continental Congress Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1 Nov. 1782
Wallace v. Jaffree 705 F.2d 1526 and 713 F.2d 614 (1985)
Williams V. Wells, The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams, 3 vols. Boston: Little Brown& Co., 1865, 18
Zorach v. Clauson 303 N.Y. 161, 100 N.E.2d 463 (1952)
~END~
If you would like to contact me you may do so at: bethany_1776@yahoo.com


District of Columbia Office:
201 Maryland Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 546-8890
Fax: (202) 544-5172
Writer’s Direct Contact
Information:
Direct: (202) 546-9150
Fax: (202) 546-8623
June 7, 2005

VIA EMAIL AND FIRST CLASS MAIL
Hon. Patricia Spencer, President
Victor Valley Community College
18422 Bear Valley Road
Victorville, CA 92392-5849
re: Bethany Hauf’s rights to academic freedom, freedom of
speech and freedom of religion

Dear President Spencer:
Bethany Hauf has retained the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
to pursue legal claims arising from Victory Valley Community College and adjunct
instructor Michael Shefchik’s adversely scoring her work in English 101 because of
instructor Shefchik’s personal distaste for references to God in Mrs. Hauf’s written
work product.
By way of introduction, the ACLJ is a not-for-profit public interest law firm
and educational group. Our organization exists to educate the public and the
government about the right to freedom of speech, particularly in the context of the
expression of religious sentiments. We render assistance to a significant number of
students in situations similar to the one Mrs. Hauf now faces.
The legal principles relevant to this particular situation have been set forth
in numerous Supreme Court decisions. As you will see in the pages that follow,
Westside Community Sch. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990), Tinker v. Des Moines
Indep. Community Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 506 (1969), Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 265
(1981), Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the Univ. of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819
(1995), and many other federal court decisions attest to the fact that religious
expression in the public arena is consistent with the First Amendment, including
when the expression takes place on public school grounds. As then-President
Letter to Hon. Patricia Spencer
Monday, June 7, 2005
Page 2
Clinton stated, “[t]he First Amendment does not -- I will say again -- does not
convert our schools into religion-free zones.” President’s Remarks at James Madison
High School in Vienna, Virginia, 31 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 1220, 1224 (July 12,
1995).
In the following pages, the facts of this matter are set forth and analyzed
under the relevant law. After reviewing the following, please take the necessary
steps required to ensure that your faculty and staff do not violate Bethany Hauf’s
and other students’ federal constitutional rights and California statutory rights in
the future.
I. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS
Bethany Hauf attends Victor Valley Community College. Michael Shefchik,
her instructor for English 101, assigned a number of writing projects, including the
one of present concern for a research paper.
On April 12, 2005, Mrs. Hauf contacted Mr. Shefchik via email inquiring
about a topic choice she was considering, either for a persuasive writing assignment
or for the research project assignment. She identified the topic as “Religion and Its
Place within the Government.” She stated that she was learning, from the
groundwork already done, that the topic was sufficiently grounded in research
materials that it could justifiably serve as her research project. And, she asked a
few technical questions about writing in response to the various assignments.
Mr. Shefchik received the email and replied to it.
In his reply, he made clear that he understood the particular topic of interest
to Mrs. Hauf and her possible use of it for her research project. At least twice in the
email, when it would have been proper to indicate that her topic choice was out of
line with the assignment, Mr. Shefchik actually indicated that the proposed topic
was within the bounds of the assignment. He said, “Certainly you could write a
persuasive paper or a research paper on the topic . . . .” Later in the email he
stated, “Should you decide to go with this topic,” and “Whatever you decide, these
subjects, like most others, need objective treatment . . . .” The email from Mr.
Shefchik did include this notable guidance: “I have one limiting factor – no mention
of big “G” gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.”
Given that the subject was one with a richly diverse background of research
material, was of interest to her, and was passed upon by the instructor, Mrs. Hauf
Letter to Hon. Patricia Spencer
Monday, June 7, 2005
Page 3
proceeded with her research and writing to complete the assignment. In compliance
with course requirements, she submitted a draft of the her research project and
attended a conference May 28, 2005, with Mr. Shefchik on her research project.
The conference did not “go well.” Mr. Shefchik told her that, at best, because
she had written off topic about God, she would be graded 69 out of a possible 100
points. Mr. Shefchik told Mrs. Hauf, among the reasons for his limitation was that
references to “God” could be offensive. He also indicated to her that there was an
appeal process if she was unhappy with his actions, and he invited her to undertake
that process. Within three or four minutes of the start of what was supposed to be
an approximately 20 minute conference, Mrs. Hauf found the conference concluded
and without having received any of the sort of pedagogical supervision and guidance
appropriate to such a conference.
Because Mr. Shefchik had identified Assistant Professor Judy Solis as the
person to whom any appeal from his decision should be taken, Mrs. Hauf
immediately walked over to Professor Solis’ office. She explained the circumstances
to Professor Solis. Professor Solis then invited Mr. Shefchik to join her and Mrs.
Hauf in her office. A further brief discussion ensued, but no aid or assistance
correcting Mr. Shefchik’s conduct was forthcoming. At the conclusion of that
meeting, Mrs. Hauf and Mr. Shefchik returned to his office for a further brief
meeting.
After returning home that same day, Mrs. Hauf posted her draft to the online
blackboard (as all student work was to be posted there for review and comment by
other students). In addition, in the Discussion Board section of the online
blackboard, Mrs. Hauf posted a message regarding her paper, and the concerns
expressed about it by Mr. Shefchik, as well as her own concern for the thoughts of
the other students in the class regarding her work. Her posted message was in
compliance with an oral instruction given by Mr. Shefchik during the brief
conference. He told Mrs. Hauf that she should confirm with her classmates that he
had given specific instructions about the research project.
The very next day Mr. Shefchik caused Mrs. Hauf’s paper to removed from its
electronic posting. As a consequence, she was denied the benefit of other students’
evaluation and thoughts on her work, as well as having been denied the opportunity
to confirm with those students, in accord with Mr. Shefchik’s instructions, whether
her paper was “off topic.”
Mr. Shefchik describes himself as an Atheist. He has recounted his tales of
Letter to Hon. Patricia Spencer
Monday, June 7, 2005
Page 4
1. Mr. Shefchik’s instruction presented other instances in which he and Mrs. Hauf came
into ideological conflict, over and beyond his prohibition on mentioning the big “G” god in her
research paper. Mr. Shefchik also told his students not to identify themselves or others as
“Americans” in their writings, despite well-established nomenclatures for doing so. In addition, he
has made disparaging digs and remarks about people of faith and about the Government of the
United States.
being a “Dead Head” (a camp follower of the rock group “Grateful Dead”), and of
illegal drug use experiences from his youth. He has even offered to make “bootleg”
music CDs of another rock group, “Phish.” While his life experiences, drug usage
choices, and willingness to offer to make bootleg copies of copyrighted materials are
troubling, it is the strange intersection of his professed personal belief in atheism
with the decision to down-grade Mrs. Hauf’s work because of its references to a big
“G” God that must provoke appropriate administrative intervention by you and
your faculty.1
II. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT LAW
As a prefatory matter, the nature of Bethany’s product, her research paper,
must be understood. Mr. Shefchik’s actions appear to be driven by a view that Mrs.
Hauf wrote “off topic” when, as the facts above show, he knew and approved of the
topic she wrote on, although he urged her to take an advocacy position that was not
able to be supported by the historical research. So, when Mr. Shefchik downgraded
Bethany’s draft and gave her extremely short shrift at her draft conference, he
embodied his viewpoint disagreement by asserting that the topic was out of bounds.
Before VVCC commits itself to the defense of the precarious position into
which Mr. Shifchik is drawing it, the College should bear in mind with just whiat
bias and motivation Mr. Shifchik must be operating to have come to the present
impasse. Bethany’s paper discusses some of the evidences supporting a hypothesis
that, while the Constitution prohibits an established church, religion was essential
to the founding of the Nation and to its governance thereafter. Her paper was not
one written “about God” per se. Nor was her paper inherently and necessarily
religious. And, in keeping with the requirements of the assignment, it was
assiduously supported with citations to authority and written objectively.
Consequently, even if, in a country in which academic and constitutional
freedoms are so highly prized, it could be constitutional to impose a topical ban on
papers about big “G” gods, it was sophomoric error to read Mrs. Hauf’s research
paper as falling within the prohibited zone.
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 5
A. BETHANY HAUF’S SPEECH IS PROTECTED UNDER THE
FIRST AMENDMENT
It is a fundamental proposition of constitutional law that a government body
may not suppress or exclude the speech of private parties for the sole reason that
the speech is religious or contains a religious perspective. Widmar v. Vincent, 454
U.S. 263 (1981); Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free Sch. Dist., 508 U.S.
384 (1993). To deny this fundamental principle would be to eviscerate the essential
guarantees of free speech and religious freedom under the First Amendment.
It is well settled that religious speech is protected by the First Amendment
and may not be singled out for disparate treatment. Widmar, 454 U.S. at 269
(citing Heffron v. International Soc’y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc., 452 U.S. 640
(1981); Neimotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268 (1951); Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 558
(1948)); see also Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the Univ. of Virginia, 515 U.S.
819 (1995); Capitol Square Review and Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753 (1995);
Westside Community Sch. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990). This principle was
reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court, which stated:
Our precedent establishes that private religious speech, far from being
a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech
Clause as secular private expression . . . Indeed, in Anglo-American
history, at least, government suppression of speech has so commonly
been directed precisely at religious speech that a free-speech clause
without religion would be Hamlet without the prince.
Pinette, 515 U.S. at 760. Thus, a student's constitutional free speech rights to
express religious views are fully protected by the First and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. President Clinton recognized these
rights in his Presidential Guidelines on Student Expression in the Public Schools.
He specifically states that the Bible is a permissible school subject and that
“[s]tudents may express their beliefs about religion in the form of homework,
artwork, and other written and oral assignments free of discrimination based on the
religious content of their submissions.” Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary
of Education, 1998 Revised Guidelines. Thus, Mrs. Hauf may discuss religion and
God, even express when appropriate her religious beliefs and views, through
projects such as the research project given by Michael Shefchik.
B. BETHANY HAUF DID NOT ABANDON HER CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS AS A CONDITION OF MATRICULATION AT VICTOR
VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 6
Students do not forfeit their First Amendment rights to free speech by
attending school: “[i]t can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed
their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse
gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1968).
Accordingly, students are free to write about secular topics from a religious
viewpoint, write about religious topics, and may even, where appropriate
contextually express their religious views while at school. This freedom includes
utilizing historical references to “God” for support of a research thesis and in
defense of that thesis orally and in writing. An instructor’s decision to downgrade a
student’s work because of such factual, objectively verifiable historical content,
based on its religious essence, cannot be sustained.
Mr. Shefchik, acting as an employee of the Community College, lacks
authority to censor student expression unless the speech creates a material and
substantial disruption to the school’s ability to fulfill its educational goals. The
United States Supreme Court has held such censorship to be unconstitutional
where there has been "no finding and no showing that engaging [in the activity]
would materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate
discipline in the operation of the school." Tinker, 393 U.S. at 509 (quoting Burnside
v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744, 749 (5th Cir. 1966)). This standard of “material and
substantial disruption” cannot be met merely by the prognosticating about possible
disruptions resulting from supposed offenses taken to the use of the word “God.” As
the Supreme Court stated, "in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of
disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression." Tinker,
393 U.S. at 508. In Tinker, the Supreme Court held that students are protected by
the Constitution in the school environment, and that prohibitions of pure speech
can be supported only when they are necessary to protect "the work of the schools or
the rights of other students." 393 U.S. at 509.
When a student chooses to complete an assignment on issues dealing with
religion and/or God, or related topics, school officials such as Mr. Shefchik are
barred by the Constitution from censoring the student's beliefs just because they
come from a religious perspective. Censorship of student speech based on its
content and/or viewpoint represents a careless and broad denial of constitutional
rights based on a grossly erroneous view of the law regarding students' rights:
Yet, in our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves for
totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over
their students. Students in school as well as out of school are persons
under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights
which the state must respect, just as they themselves must respect
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 7
their obligations to the state. In our systems, students may not be
regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the
state chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to
the expressions of those sentiments that are officially
approved.
Tinker, 393 U.S. at 511 (emphasis added).
This fundamental constitutional principle is applicable both inside and
outside the classroom. As the Tinker Court noted, when a student "is in the
cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he
may express his opinions. . . ." 393 U.S. at 512-13. Moreover, attempting to enforce
a policy that excludes religious speech forces school officials
to scrutinize the content of student speech, lest the expression in
question – speech otherwise protected by the Constitution – contain
too great a religious content . . . That eventuality raises the specter of
governmental censorship, to ensure that all student writings and
publications meet some baseline standard of secular
orthodoxy. To impose that standard on student speech . . . is to
imperil the very sources of free speech and expression.
Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 844-45 (emphasis added).
We completely acknowledge that school officials have "important, delicate
and highly discretionary functions" to perform. West Virginia v. Barnette, 319 U.S.
624, 637 (1943). However, these functions must be performed "within the limits of
the Bill of Rights." Id. "The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is
nowhere more vital than in a community of American schools." Shelton v. Tucker,
364 U.S. 479, 487 (1967). By forbidding or severely restricting a student’s ability to
express his private beliefs because they contain religious principles, a school
exercises "authoritative selection" violative of the well-established principle that the
"classroom is peculiarly the marketplace of ideas." Keyishian v. Board of Regents,
385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967). Furthermore, the decision to selectively exclude material
with religious content or viewpoint violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
C. DOWNGRADING BETHANY HAUF’S WORK BASED ON
PERCEIVED VIEWPOINT AND CONTENT VIOLATES HER
FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
The fundamental principal remains that government actors cannot target
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 8
religious speech for exclusive restrictions. As the Supreme Court held in Lamb's
Chapel, “[t]he principle that has emerged from our cases is that the First
Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor
some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others.” 508 U.S. at 394
(emphasis added).
The First Amendment precludes any governmental effort to single out and
censor – or otherwise burden – the speech of private parties solely because that
speech is religious. A unanimous United States Supreme Court in Church of
Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993), explained this principle
in light of free exercise concerns:
The principle that government, in pursuit of legitimate interest,
cannot, in a selective manner, impose burdens only on conduct
motivated by religious belief is essential to the protection of the rights
guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause. The principle underlying the
general applicability requirement has parallels in our First
Amendment jurisprudence.
Id. at 543.
These principles were reaffirmed in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of
Univ. of Virginia, 515 U.S. at 819 (1995), where the Court found unconstitutional a
university policy which denied a religious newspaper access to university funds
because of its religious perspective:
It is axiomatic that the government may not regulate speech based on
its substantive content or the message it conveys . . . . In the realm of
private speech or expression, government regulation may not favor one
speaker over another. Discrimination against speech because of
its message is presumed to be unconstitutional. The government
must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating
ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for
the restriction.
515 U.S. at 828-829 (citations omitted) (emphasis added). See also Good
News/Good Sports Club v. School Dist. of the City of Ladue, 28 F.3d 1501,
1506-1507 (8th Cir. 1994) (where the Eighth Circuit observed that the Lamb's
Chapel Court "refused to cabin religious speech into a separate excludible speech
category; rather, the Court adopted a more expansive view, recognizing that a
religious perspective can constitute a separate viewpoint on a wide variety of
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 9
seemingly secular subject matter").
In Bethany’s situation, Mr. Shefchik may grade her work appropriately, that
is, by the application of standards that do not violate constitutional rights. He may
not, however, award punitive grades to her work because her research assignment
mentions a big “G” God or discusses the role of religion in the Government of the
nation. Such actions violate her free speech rights.
D. BETHANY HAUF’S PRIVATE SPEECH DOES NOT IMPLICATE
VICTOR VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN A VIOLATION
OF THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE OF THE FIRST
AMENDMENT
Schools and school authorities often wrongly believe that allowing students
to express religious views at school would be a violation of "the separation of
Church and State" (Establishment Clause). This very argument has been reviewed
and rejected by the United States Supreme Court. In Board of Educ. of the
Westside Community Sch. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990), the Supreme Court
stated, as a general proposition, that the activities of students in a public school do
not present any Establishment Clause problem:
Petitioners’ principal contention is that the Act has the primary effect
of advancing religion. Specifically, petitioners urge that, because the
student religious meetings are held under school aegis, and because
the state's compulsory attendance laws bring the students together
(and thereby provide a ready-made audience for student evangelists),
and objective observer in the position of a secondary school student
will perceive official school support for such religious meetings. . . . We
disagree.
496 U.S. at 249-250 (emphasis added).
Of course, Mergens merely reflects the Establishment Clause's intended
limitation – not on the rights of individual students – but on the power of
governments (including State supported colleges). As Justice O'Connor stated,
"there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which
the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the
Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect." 496 U.S. at 250.
As the Supreme Court stated in Mergens, a policy of equal access for religious
speech conveys a message “of neutrality rather than endorsement; if a State refused
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 10
2. In Hedges, the Court of Appeals found that a school policy which prohibited the
distribution of all material with religious content violated the First Amendment. Although the Court
allowed time and place restrictions on the distribution, it found that a student’s right to free speech
in the schools should be protected. Hedges, 9 F.2d at 1299.
to let religious groups use facilities open to others, then it would demonstrate not
neutrality but hostility toward religion." 496 U.S. at 248. Accord Gregoire v.
Centennial Sch. Dist., 907 F.2d 1366, 1382 n.14 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 111
S.Ct. 253 (1990); Grace Bible Fellowship, Inc. v. Maine Sch. Admin. Dist., 941 F.2d
45, 48 (lst Cir. 1991).
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment "requires the state to be a
neutral in its relations with . . . religious believers and non-believers; it does not
require the state to be their adversary." Everson v. Board of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 18
(1947). On the contrary, "[s]tate power is no more to be used to handicap religions,
than it is to favor them." Everson, 330 U.S. at 18. This principle of neutrality was
once again affirmed in Hedges v. Wauconda Community Sch. Dist., 9 F.3d 1295,
1299 (7th Cir. 1993), where the court struck 2 ck down a complete ban on the
censorship of religious material:
School districts seeking an easy way out try to suppress private
speech. Then they need not cope with the misconception that whatever
speech the school permits, it espouses. Dealing with
misunderstandings--here, educating the students in the meaning of the
Constitution and the distinction between private speech and public
endorsement--is, however, what schools are for.
9 F.3d at 1299. The court went on to criticize the School’s decision to err on the side
of censorship rather than free speech:
Yet Wauconda proposes to throw up its hands, declaring that because
misconceptions are possible it may silence its pupils, that the best
defense against misunderstanding is censorship. What a lesson
Wauconda proposes to teach its students! Far better to teach them
about the first amendment, about the difference between public and
private action, about why we tolerate divergent views. Public belief
that the government is partial does not permit the government to
become partial. The school’s proper response is to educate the
audience rather than squelch the speaker.
Id.
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 11
Students who act on their own behalf and engage in speech activities as a
result of personal belief or interest, are fully protected by the First Amendment.
Consequently, there is no basis for restricting student expression in written
assignments or classroom discussions on otherwise permissible subjects, merely
because such writings or discussions are offered from a religious perspective.
III. DEMAND
It is imperative that this situation be corrected immediately to avoid possible
litigation in federal court.
To accomplish that correction, Michael Shefchik must: (1) reverse his actions
that violate Mrs. Hauf’s constitutional and statutory rights and (2) discontinue
those actions and related practices. As a matter of fact, Mr. Shefchik specifically
stated that Mrs. Hauf could score no higher than 69 points out of a possible 100
points on her draft because of her topic choice. This viewpoint biased action raises
serious questions about whether Mr. Shefchik can now or hereafter act in a manner
free from bias in his re-grading/re-scoring of Mrs. Hauf’s work.
In particular, Mrs. Hauf demands that her grades for course work on the
research project be recalculated by Mr. Shefchik free from the prejudicial impact of
his unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination and free from retributory impact for
having sought legal counsel and aid in seeking redress of this matter. To insure
that her grades do not reflect his biases, the re-grading/re-scoring, at a minimum
should be reviewed by a superior in the English Department.
In addition, because of the offenses he inflicted, Mr. Shefchik should make
amends to Mrs. Hauf by apologizing for his discriminatory treatment of Mrs. Hauf’s
views. Obviously, if Mr. Shefchik acted without animus, then the other
explanation, ignorance of constitutional limits, suggests that he should receive some
kind of training to sensitize him to the constitutional dimensions of his employment
in a public educational institution, including his duty to respect constitutional
freedoms of expression.
These steps, at a minimum, would demonstrate that academic inquiry and
intellectual liberty are valued prizes for students too, and not only professors and
instructors at VVCC.
These actions must take place immediately: the violation of an individual’s
constitutional rights, even for a moment, results in irreparable injury. Elrod v.
Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976). In light of the serious nature of the legal rights at
Hon. Patricia Spencer
June 7, 2005
Page 12
issue and the fact that the scoring of Mrs. Hauf’s oral presentation of the research
assignment is due as soon as Monday, June 7, 2005, we request that you take
immediate action to intervene with Mr. Shefchik, and that you advise us of VVCC’s
position on these matters immediately. If you wish to further discuss this issue,
please feel free to contact James M. Henderson, a Senior Counsel with the ACLJ, at
(202) 641-9163.
Sincerely,
AMERICAN CENTER FOR
LAW AND JUSTICE
Jay Alan Sekulow
Chief Counsel
cc: Bethany Hauf
Michael Shefchik