Religion

California Teacher Must Remove "God" Banners from Classroom

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A federal appeals court in California has ruled against a teacher who hung banners in his classroom that referenced God.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Bradley Johnson, a teacher in the Poway Unified School District near San Diego, had hung large banners in his classroom for some 20 years that read "In God We Trust," "God Bless America," and "God Shed His Grace on Thee."

He said there was never any problem until he was transferred to a new school in 2007 and the principal said the banners must go. He sued, saying the principal and the school district were violating his 1st Amendment free speech rights.

According to court documents, principal Dawn Kastner said her problem was not that the banners said "God," but because they were "a promotion of a particular viewpoint."

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Last year a federal judge ruled in favor of Johnson, and ordered the nine district officials involved in the decision to pay Johnson a token $10 each. Johnson also restored his banners.

But the district appealed, and the appeals panel reversed the earlier decision, ruling that his free speech rights were not being trampled. The judges said the district has the right to limit his  speech, just as any employer has the right to do with any of its employees.

The panel also ordered Johnson to pay the district's legal fees, which might be tough on a teacher's salary. No word if he has to repay the 90 bucks as well.