Judge Agrees, Patriotic Banner OK for Classroom


By: Warner Todd Huston

A Federal judge said that it was OK for a Poway, California school teacher to sue his school district for forcing him to remove a banner that featured well known, patriotic American references to God in an early September ruling.

Math teacher Brad Johnson who teachers at Westview High in San Diego County, California, had the banner on his classroom wall for the last 20 years but only last year was told by school administrators that the banner was supposedly an affront to the principles of separation of Church and State. After two decades without complaint, Johnson was told his banner suddenly offended his students because the banners “were an impermissible attempt to make a Judeo-Christian statement to his students.”

The suddenly banned banner included the phrases “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America,” and “God Shed His Grace on Thee.”

Teacher Johnson decided to take his school district to court to restore to his classroom wall the common American slogans while the school system sought to have the suit tossed out claiming that Johnson, as a public employee, had only limited 1st Amendment rights and that the principal had authority over what appeared on the walls of the classroom.

Judge Roger T. Benitez sided with the patriotic-minded teacher.

In a blistering 23-page decision, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez rejected the district’s motion as legally faulty and blasted its “brash” attempt to take down the banners. The jurist noted that the district allowed other teachers to put up posters with Buddhist and Islamic messages, posters of rock bands including Nirvana and the Clash, and Tibetan prayer rugs… Johnson’s banners, Benitez wrote, were patriotic expressions deeply rooted in American history.

Judge Benitez also said, “By squelching only Johnson’s patriotic expression, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit such one-sided censorship.”

For his part, the school district’s attorney, Jack M. Sleeth Jr., wondered “What do these banners have to do with mathematics?”

I would ask of this shyster what “Tibetan prayer rugs” have to do with anything that need be taught in an American classroom? And, why is a Tibetan’s religious artifact permissible and somehow NOT an “impermissible religious statement” while common American slogans somehow are?

Let me school this school on the founding American document, a little thing we like to call the Declaration of Independence.

Need we remind these “educators” that the document with which we introduced ourselves to the rest of the civilized world is based on the rights of man as bestowed upon us by God? We lay our basic entreaty to independence upon the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” asserting that these laws entitled us to the respect due a free people.

There’s that pesky “God” thing to which the Poway School District so objects.

Then came some of the msot famous words ever penned by man:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Then after enumerating our grievances we ended with one more assertion of our belief in God.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

These are founding principles that God was looking down upon this country with favor. That God had assured each of us a set of rights that man cannot tear asunder. That we trust in God to sustain these rights. And, from that time forward, our politicians have invoked God’s grace on U.S. From George Washington to George W. Bush, presidents have had day of thanks to God and have invoked his name.

For this school to attempt to remove God from its classrooms, yet allow the recognition of religious artifacts and principles from religions alien to our founding is as unAmerican is it gets. It’s good that this judge recognized the anti-Americanism of it all.

Let freedom ring and “may God shed his grace” on us all.

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