Christian Teacher Barred from Making God References in Class

A fifth-grade teacher is suing a California school district after it prohibited him from using historical documents with references to God and religion, such as the Declaration of Independence, to teach American history in his class.

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By Katherine T. Phan, Christian Post Reporter
November 30, 2004|7:58 pm

A Christian elementary school teacher is suing his school district after a school principal told him he could not hand out documents that refer to God and religion which included the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents.

The suit, filed by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, alleges that the Cupertino Union School District violated the First Amendment of fifth-grade teacher Steven Williams by prohibiting him from teaching about American history using material with references to God and Christianity. Williams is also suing for discrimination, claiming that the principal of Stevens Creek Elementary School, Patricia Vidmar, did not ask any other teachers to submit their lesson plans but only asked him because he was a professed Christian.

After reviewing his class material, the Tri-Valley Herald reported that Vidmar barred Williams from distributing or teaching from several handouts, including excerpts from the Declaration of Independence;” "George Washington's Prayer Journal;” "The Rights of the Colonists;” George W. Bush's presidential 2004 Day of Prayer proclamation, with a supplemental handout on the history of the National Day of Prayer; and several excerpts from John Adam's diary.

"I've never even tried to hint the kids need to believe this or this is the right religion to believe," Williams told the Tri-Valley Herald. "I'm just trying to teach history."

Williams’ attorney, Terry Thompson, filed the case, Stephen J. Williams v. Cupertino Union School District, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division.

“The district’s actions conflict with American beliefs and are completely unconstitutional,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb.

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According to an ADF press release, the California Education Code allows “references to religion or references to or the use of religious literature…when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles…and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study.”

“Less than five percent of all of Mr. Williams’ supplemental handouts distributed throughout the school year contain references to God and Christianity,” added Caleb. “The district is simply attempting to cleanse all references to the Christian religion from our nation’s history, and they are singling out Mr. Williams for discriminatory treatment. Their actions are unacceptable under both California and federal law.”

 

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