Judge rules against science class religious displays

Judge rules against science class religious displays

PUPILS attending Joelle Silver’s science class in the Cheektowaga Central School District in New York routinely found it peppered with an array of religious posters and pictures and sticky notes with “inspirational” biblical verses.

These included a drawing of three crosses on a hill, depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a poster featuring a quotation from former US President Ronald Reagan:

Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience… without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure … lf ever we forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.

This was all to much for one pupil who contacted the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which sent a letter in June, 2012, to Cheektowaga Central School District protesting the presence the religious imagery in Silver’s classroom.

The school took immediate action and ordered the removal of all the offensive material. Silver, who doubled as the faculty sponsor for the school’s Bible Study Club, retaliated, and launched a lawsuit against the school, saying she had been picked unfairly picked on. No action, she asserted, had been taken against a social worker at the high school who displays materials inside and outside her office that:

Promote the gay rights agenda.

These materials included posters, bumper stickers and decals. One decal featured the “equal” symbol of the of the Human Rights Campaign:

A pro-gay rights, anti-Christian activist organization.


According to the lawsuit, although the social worker’s materials are intended to create a “welcoming environment,” for LGBT students:

The displays also create an atmosphere of intolerance toward students who have religious objections to promoting the LGBT lifestyle or agenda.

This week, to the fury of Christian conservatives, Silver lost her case. Judge Leslie G Foschio, of the US District Court for the Western District of New York, ruled that the removal of her material was legal and that Silver’s lawsuit against Cheektowaga Central School District, its Superintendent Dennis Kane and its Board of Education President Brian  Gould could not proceed on the basis of her rights being violated.

In the 42-page decision, Foschio did, however, conclude that the lawsuit could advance on Silver’s complaint  of “selective enforcement”.

Silver is being represented by the American Freedom Law Center. In a statement, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel Robert Muise took issue with the decision.

Similar to the school district’s censorship of Ms Silver’s speech, the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation is dripping with hostility to religion.

To assert that the school district was justified in ordering Ms. Silver to remove small, sticky notes containing handwritten, inspirational Bible verses that she attached to the back her desk for fear that these small, personal notes would violate the Establishment Clause, as the school district argued and the magistrate judge found, is simply absurd.

Regarding the direction of lawsuit from here, in his statement released after Tuesday’s decision AFLC’s Muise said that

This fight is far from over.

11 responses to “Judge rules against science class religious displays”

  1. Gina Powell says:

    Very good decision. I’m sick and tired of these religious lunatics enforcing their personal convictions down other peoples throats. You have every right to practice your religion and I have every right not to. You don’t have a right to push your religion in a publicly funded classroom.

  2. andrewm031 says:

    “Unfairly picked on.” The religious playing the victim card-there’s a first. What part of the First Amendment does Ms Silver not understand?

  3. L.Long says:

    What part of the First Amendment does Ms Silver not understand?……
    What part of the constitution & bill of rights do they even read or understand.
    As far as these opinionated bigots are concerned, the only thing the Constitution is for is to protect the xtian right to be bigots against everyone else they dislike.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Ah, yes; the “gay rights agenda” just has to come into it because they’re bloody obsessed with homosexuality, as I’ve said many times before.

  5. Sally in MI says:

    If she wants to post religious sayings all over the place, she should go teach in a religious school..oh wait…less money, no protections, and a rigid curriculum with no free speech rights for her or her students.Plus her ‘science’ class would be limited to Genesis.
    Now, if she had posted sayings from Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, native Americans, as well as the Bible…I think she’d be fine. As it is, she tries to lead her students to her way of thinking. THAT’S the issue. How would the parents feel if she were Muslim and posted Koran tidbits all over her desk? Because that’s what happens if this is permitted…then every belief system is allowed. High school kids are figuring out what they think and believe. It isn’t helpful to have one teacher promoting one view in a public school system.

  6. Barry Duke says:

    “This fight is far from over.”
    Joelle Silver should now bring in the big guns:

  7. Stephen Mynett says:

    I think the CLC website deserves an award for stating the obvious when it says the CLC is a not for profit company. I would imagine most people would realise that making a profit would be highly unlikely when you lose the vast majority of your cases.

  8. Angela_K says:

    The intolerant complaining about those who are intolerant of their intolerance – again.

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    If, as well as posting inspirational quotes from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist etc. traditions, she had *also* posted up e equals m c squared, and e to the power of i pi plus one equals zero, and Maxwell’s Equations and Newton’s Laws of Motion, we would be square.

  10. tony e says:

    Stephen Mynett,

    It’s certainly a ‘not for prophets’ organisation…..

    I’ll get my coat.

  11. Robster says:

    It can’t be a good thing having a completely conned christian teaching science. Every time she opens her mouth, she’ll need to say something that goes against her belief system, if she’s being honest. An honest godbot, that’d be a first.