Crossing The Lineby Doug Mataconis
A teacher in New Jersey is in trouble for talking about God in history class:
KEARNY, N.J. — Before David Paszkiewicz got to teach his accelerated 11th-grade history class about the United States Constitution this fall, he was accused of violating it.
Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.
“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”
The first question I’d ask here, is why did this teacher even think it was appropriate to start talking about evolution, the Big Ban, dinosaurs, Noah’s Ark, and who’s going to heaven in a history class to begin with ? At the very least, he was deviating extremely far from the lesson plan he should’ve been following. At worst, he was preaching to these kids in a way, as a teacher in a public school, he really has no business doing.
More interesting to me, though, is the reaction of some of the teacher’s supporters:
Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.”
Sorry, but Mr. Paskiewicz has the right to believe in whatever religion he chooses. What he doesn’t have the right to do is spout off like a Sunday preacher in the middle of history class.