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« on: December 01, 2004, 02:26:39 PM »

School District Sued After Blocking Use of 'God'-Referencing Historical Material

by Jim Brown and Jody Brown
December 1, 2004

(AgapePress) - A California school district has been sued over its censorship of a Christian teacher's use of historical documents that contain references to God. Among those documents was the Declaration of Independence.

Stevens Creek School in Cupertino has informed teacher Stephen Williams that because he is a Christian, he cannot provide students with supplemental handouts that include excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the diaries of George Washington and John Adams, and the writings of William Penn. Why? Because those documents contain some references to God and religion.

Patricia Vidmar, principal of Stevens Creek School, argues that Williams would be unconstitutionally promoting his own religious agenda. But attorney Gary McCaleb with the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed the suit against the school district, says his client is the victim of anti-Christian bigotry.

"That's a little bit like telling a Republican teacher not to mention a Republican president because your values coincide," McCaleb says. "It's really an outrageous example of hyper-secularism -- of going against Christians simply because they're Christians."

According to McCaleb, Williams has been singled out for discrimination.

"All the other teachers are allowed to use excerpts and supplemental materials without any specific guidance by the administration," he explains. "Mr. Williams alone is required to conform to a limited list put out by the district, solely because of the so-called separation of church and state." Those actions, says McCaleb, are hostile to religion and thus violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

McCaleb explains that less than five percent of the supplemental handouts Williams uses throughout the year contain references to God and to Christianity. He maintains the district is "simply attempting to cleanse all references to the Christian religion from our nation's history" -- and that in doing so, is treating Williams in a discriminatory manner. "Their actions are unacceptable under both California and federal law," the attorney adds.

A California-based association of Christian educators is expressing its outrage over Williams' treatment -- and that a public school would prohibit an educator from teaching from historical documents. Finn Laursen, executive director of Christian Educators Association International in Pasadena, says he finds it "frustrating" that school administrators still "misunderstand the intent of the First Amendment."

"[That amendment] was meant to inhibit governmental interference in religious expression and not launch governmental roadblocks," Laursen says in a press statement. "The Establishment Clause was never written to establish a God-free zone in the public arena."

A former public school administrator himself, Laursen wonders what the future holds. "Are we going to rewrite history because the word 'God' is used in a document or text?" he asks. "It would be impossible to do an honest search into the history of this nation without uncovering a Christian foundation intentionally engineered by our forefathers." That foundation, he adds, is what makes America unique -- "and [it] should not be minimized or denied," Laursen emphasizes.

The case, Stephen J. Williams v. Cupertino Union School District, was filed on November 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division. The suit names school principal Patricia Vidmar, district superintendent William Bragg, and five members of the district board of education.

According to the CEAI's Laursen, his group receives "dozens of complaints monthly" from public school teachers who find themselves in circumstances similar to Williams'.


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