T.M. Law Center v. Poway School … Ban Teacher’s “God” Banners

ANN ARBOR,

MI – Late last week, attorneys for the

Poway

Unified

School District in

San Diego,

California, filed their appeal of Federal District Court Judge Benitez’s ruling that held school officials violated teacher Bradley Johnson’s constitutional rights when they ordered him to remove two patriotic banners from the walls of his classroom because they referred to “God.” The appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Johnson, a highly respected math teacher in the

Poway school district, had the banners displayed on his classroom walls for over 20 years. In 2007, school officials ordered him to take them down, claiming the banners expressed an impermissible Judeo-Christian viewpoint and may be offensive to a Muslim student.

The patriotic banners included the phrases, “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” and “God Bless

America.”

In a clear case of a double standard, school officials, however, saw no problem with non-Christian or anti-religious displays by other teachers. The school district left untouched displays that included a 40-foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha; a poster with the lyrics from John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine,” which begins, Imagine there’s no Heaven; a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins;” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X, and a poster of Buddhist leader Dali Lama.

On

February 26, 2010, Federal District Judge Roger T. Benitez, in a strongly worded decision, ruled the school district violated Brad Johnson’s constitutional rights when it ordered him to take down his classroom banners:

“[The school district officials] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture. . . . That God places prominently in our Nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”

The

Thomas

More

Law

Center, a national public interest law firm based in

Ann Arbor,

Michigan, has been representing Bradley Johnson ever since the school district ordered him to remove his banners in 2007.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “This is another example of public school boards attempting to eradicate the essential role played by Christianity in our Nation’s history. We are in this fight for the long haul, and our lawyers will defend Mr. Johnson’s constitutional right to display his patriotic banners and Judge Benitez’s ruling before the Ninth Circuit, and to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.”

The

Thomas

More

Law

Center defends and promotes

America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign

United States of America. The

Law

Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The

Law

Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the

Thomas

More

Law

Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

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