SANTA ANA, Calif. A Capistrano Valley High School honors student is suing his teacher and the school district for persistent anti-Christian comments, including, "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth."
Sophomore Chad Farnan is suing Dr. James Corbett, who teaches Advanced Placement European History, a class Chad was told he needed for admittance to college.
Chad had complained to his parents of ongoing bias against Christians during Corbett's class and, after their son recorded numerous comments they deemed offensive, they contacted Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a nonprofit religious liberty organization.
The suit was filed Dec. 12 in federal court alleging violations of the First Amendment.
"It's a violation of the Establishment Cause, in which government is prohibited from showing hostility toward religion," Robert Tyler, chief council for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said. "Here we have a government official, a teacher paid by the state, showing an expressed bias and hostility against Christians in the classroom."
The suit has garnered national attention, prompting invitations on several national cable talk shows.
"It's really struck a chord across the country," he said. "We've received such favorable media attention. It's a case that is such a blatant violation of the constitutional principles."
In describing the case, Tyler said the teacher's comments were usually made at the beginning of each class and touched on a variety of topics that were not related to European history and often made Christian students feel like second-class citizens.
"The blatant disregard for relevant topics of what can and should be discussed in a high school history class goes beyond moral reasoning," Tyler said. "Students come to class to learn, not to be forced to listen to the personal, demoralizing rantings of their teacher."
The complaint accuses Corbett of being hostile toward religion and names the Capistrano Unified School District for being complacent. Tyler alleges that similar complaints have been made about Corbett in the past.
"Defendant Corbett's statements in the classroomand the district's continued employment of said employeeconvey a governmental message that students holding religious beliefs are outsiders and not full members of the community," Advocates attorney Jennifer Monk wrote in the official complaint.
Tyler said the suit seeks damages but his client will not pursue those if the teacher is removed from the classroom.
The attorney said he has met with district officials, but nothing had been resolved as of press time.
"They have the obligation to investigate and protect the due process of the employee as well," he said.
Solid test scores
District officials have maintained that Corbett is a respected teacher whose students consistently score high on AP exams.
"What the school district is saying is it doesn't matter that the teacher is showing hostility toward Christians in violation of the constitution," Tyler said. "What matters are test scores."
Tyler argues that the tapes provide compelling evidence that the teacher is unfit for the classroom.
"The school district should be able to take immediate action to protect these kids," he said.
In addition to the comment about Jesus glasses, Corbett was also recorded making derogatory comments about Christians and their beliefs regarding Viagra, condom use, homosexuality, safe sex and Christianit's goal to keep women barefoot and pregnant. He also called the Boy Scouts homophobic and racist. Tyler insists that some of the comments rise to the level of sexual harassment.
In one segment of the tape, Corbett was recorded saying, "Well, we know abstinence doesn't work. And we know one other thing; and that is, once people become sexually active, they often don't stop for like, 40 or 50 years. I mean, generally, when you start you don't like, have a conversion and try to become re-virginized, you know. It's not going to happen."
Such exchanges, Tyler said, bolster Chad's claims.
"He has no business teaching," he said.