I was just involved in a lengthy Facebook debate involving the presence of religion in the science classroom.  As I understood it, my debate partner was arguing that a teacher should not be able to disagree with a student's religious beliefs if the religious beliefs contradicted science.  One of his final responses to me was:

"It’s unconstitutional for a public institution to tell someone their religion is untrue. Period."

I asked what passage in the Constitution contained this prohibition, but received no answer.  What passage could this be referencing?  Any ideas?  I am fairly certain that it is mostly likely a perversion of the establishment clause, but I fully admit that I am no expert on the Constitution. 

Tags: Constitution, belief, legal, public, religion, school, science, teacher

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For clarity, it probably would have helped if I had included the context of the entire conversation.

Here is a link:

Facebook Debate
Yay, thanks Jen! I was hoping that you would pop in with your legal expertise. :D The establishment clause was the only thing that I could think of which he might possibly be referencing.

Therefore, I do not understand how teaching science, a religion free subject, would violate the First Amendment.


Exactly, it seemed like the guy actually WANTED the teacher to directly reference religion and incorporate it into the curriculum by saying "Yes, that is possible." He kept mentioning that atheists/secularists were trying to "deny religion's place in empirical science" or something to that effect; I'm still not sure what the rationale is behind asserting that religion has any place in "empirical science," but oh well...

All I ever advocated was that the teacher be completely unhindered in presenting scientific material. If this material then contradicted a religious belief and led a student to conclude that their belief was wrong, the teacher still cannot be accused of "denying religion." My mind is still boggled that he tried to paint this as a violation of the Constitution.

From what I could gleam of his argument, he was actually promoting something which violated the establishment clause in that he wanted teachers to be forced to respond a certain way in accordance with religious beliefs.
Where in the Due Process Clause does it say anything about the First Amendment or Religion?

The answer is in what you had just quoted -"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..."

And the Bill of Rights covers both privileges and immunities. Privileges to the founders were rights beyond even what the liberal Governments of some of the European countries allowed at the time, such as unrestricted Speech, Freedom from/of religion, etc.

And as far as I can tell, there is nothing that says one person can not express their views about others beliefs. The only thing the law actually says is that Congress (or the State Legislatures) cannot pass any law, such as funding, for anything that establishes religion or prevents someone from practicing their religion.

It never does say you cannot speak out about others choices in life.

Two things to remember. The very first part of the very first especially protected rights in the Bill of Rights is freedom FROM religion. If the founders had thought freedom of religion was more important they most assuredly could have put it first.

Secondly, there is no God in either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights!
One must also realize that like any right, the Government does not guarantee the people will honor your beliefs, or allow you to speak them without challenge. It only says the Government and it's bodies will not interfere.

Based on this I would say that any teacher telling a student their religious ideas are wrong is a violation of both the spirit and intent of the first amendment. But saying that their religious beliefs run counter to science, or are un-scientific, would be ok, since it is just stating a fact without judgment as to the truth of falseness of their religion.

None of this means you cannot tell them their religion is so much B...Sh.t though.

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