Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”     Edmund Burke

December 18, 2006

Crossing The Line

by 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.

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5 Comments

  1. Irregardless of a ‘church/state separation’ issue, I ask what I would do if I were a private school administrator and my history teacher decided to spout of about religion.

    There’d be some disciplinary actions taken. It’s clear that he simply wasn’t doing his job.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — December 18, 2006 @ 7:22 am
  2. I believe that no affirmative side can be taken in this case without the actual video shot in class. The context in which Mr. Paszkiewicz made his comments is what will truly tell whether or not he was breaking Mathew’s constitutional liberties. If Mr. Paszkiewicz indeed say “God will send you to hell if you don’t believe in him.” then he is guilty. But, if Mr. Paszkiewicz stated “It is my personal religious belief that God will…” beforehand, he has lawfully exercised his freedom of speech.

    Comment by Josh Burgess — December 18, 2006 @ 4:18 pm
  3. …which still doesn’t resolve the fact that he’s talking about his personal religious beliefs in a history class. As Brad pointed out, he deserves to get shit-canned on that basis alone.

    Comment by mike — December 18, 2006 @ 5:51 pm
  4. no vid…but there is audio of 2 different classes

    here is the link to the blog that originally broke the story and the links are in the blog

    http://lippard.blogspot.com/2006/11/embarrassingly-bad-arguments-in.html

    this isnt about free speech…this is about a piss poor teacher being allowed to spew horsecrap during a class that is alledgedly about us history.

    the tape in question is mostly the teach spewing religion and his dislike of the public school system

    the other tape is his spewing the faux news perspective of world events

    i suggest you all listen to the the recordings…and listen close as you hear him mistate numerous events in history….such as what occured in post war germany

    Comment by bacci40 — December 18, 2006 @ 7:11 pm
  5. 1. I think this is a public high school, meaning it was run by the government
    2. That means that part of the drafting of the first amendment was to protect the religious freedoms of people to teach their own children whatever religion they want. If I’m a Lutheran, the last thing I want is for a Catholic to tell my kids whether or not transubstantiation happens.
    3. There are already many supreme court cases deciding this, it’s settled law.
    4. It would be different in a private school. I won’t send my kid to a Catholic school to learn Lutheran values, but if I did, I wouldn’t expect them not to teach Catholic values.

    Comment by Mike Manh — December 20, 2006 @ 2:32 am

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