This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 5, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Catholic schoolteacher Stephen Hathorn offered his seventh grade students extra credit if they went to see Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of the Christ." (search) And he got fired.
Was the R-rated "Passion" too controversial for the seventh grade? The Sacramento diocese issued this statement about Hathorn's dismissal.
"Bishop Weigand applauds 'The Passion of the Christ,' especially during this Lenten season. It is a moving, spiritual film that prompts a journey of reflection and understanding. With regard to the teacher at St. Lawrence, it is a larger personnel issue that goes beyond the movie and its rating. We are working to resolve the matter and hope that agreeable terms are near."
Stephen Hathorn joins us from Sacramento.
Stephen, thank you for being with us. What does he mean when he says -- when the school says a larger personnel issue?
STEPHEN HATHORN, TEACHER: I have no idea what he means by that.
COLMES: You have no idea what he...?
HATHORN: No. As far as I know I was terminated for having "The Passion" as an extra credit assignment in my class.
COLMES: But they also -- they say they want to resolve it. So is there a chance you'll go back there?
HATHORN: Well, the appeal process has started. And I hope that, obviously, it will be resolved in my favor, but to this point nothing has been done.
COLMES: Well, this is not really a debate about the movie itself. I think everybody takes the movie as something very personal, but the issue, I guess, of it being an R-rated film and the school having a policy about not urging children to go see R-rated films, do you understand it on that level?
HATHORN: Well, sure, that's the policy, except that policy in the last year, the eighth grader teacher assigned two R-rated movies that the children watched in the classroom. So it's -- I think it's more than just, you now, an R-rated movie issue.
COLMES: Well, that teacher probably should have gotten the same treatment. Everybody should get equal treatment if that happened?
HATHORN: Well, the principal OKed the showing of those midsection and the principal also made sure permission slips were sent home. But the principal OKed the showing of those two movies.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Stephen, I would send a 13-year-old, a 12- or 13-year-old to that movie. You did nothing wrong, as I can see.
Did they specifically tell you this is the reason you're fired?
HATHORN: Yes, they did say that it was over showing -- having that extra credit.
HANNITY: Yes. Well, this issue of it's a larger personnel issue sounds like they're looking for another reason quickly to fire you and cover their, you know, their assets here. Because...
HANNITY: ... that's what it sounds like to me. And this issue of, you know, we hope that agreeable terms are near. I think you definitely have a reason to go after them and not you -- because if you say, you can get extra credit if you see this movie about your religion, of course you mean if your parents OK it. You didn't say go on your own, right?
HATHORN: No, and I was specific about saying make sure your parents take you, although I don't know how you can sneak into a movie.
HANNITY: You don't go to an R-rated movie unless -- exactly.
HATHORN: Right. Right. It would be redundant to say, "Take your parents."
HANNITY: I think it was a reasonable and responsible thing to do here. It sounds to me like you're becoming a scapegoat here. And what do you think the rationale is here? What do you think is at work besides this?
HATHORN: Actually, Sean, the excuse for why I've been fired has changed so many times over the last week that I'm not sure.
But all I know is at the termination meeting, it was -- and I asked specifically the priests who sat in on the termination, why am I being terminated and is it just this movie? And I was told yes. So I'll have to take them on their word.
HANNITY: You just mentioned, as we were going into the break, multiple reasons have been given during the course of the week for your firing here. It sounds to me like you may have a lawsuit on your hands.
Are you contemplating, if this is not rectified, are you contemplating legal action?
HATHORN: Yes, I have sought council. And I have some -- yes.
HANNITY: You have?
HATHORN: I have to have this job. And this is what I do for a living.
HANNITY: Yes. What do you think it is, because I've been amazed at the reaction that people have had to "The Passion"?
Do you think it's -- I'm trying to understand, because I'm a Catholic and I say this could only have an impact to deepen your faith. So I'm trying to understand what their point is here, if that's their stated motivation for getting rid of you.
I'm just -- and you're saying you have to have your parent's permission to get this. I'm trying to understand it. Can you shed any -- maybe you don't know either.
HATHORN: Really, I don't know. Other than maybe -- obviously there's people out there that are uncomfortable that message. The message of...
HANNITY: But this is their faith supposedly.
HATHORN: Well, maybe the word supposedly is important here.
COLMES: See, here's my problem. This has nothing to do with the movie "The Passion of the Christ." It has to do if you're giving extra credit to certain kids, first of all, forget the extra credit, they have to get permission from their parents, and not every child is going to have that. You've got to be able to afford to see the movie. Not every child necessarily can do that.
COLMES: So your offering extra credit to certain kids who can afford to do it and get permission to do it, and the other kids don't have that leg up in terms of extra credit for your class.
HATHORN: Well, you know, a movie nowadays I think is $5.50 at a matinee. But I did have alternate extra credit that they could have used at any time.
And I haven't had any complaints from the parents. Most of the parents who've seen the movie with their children came back and applauded me for...
COLMES: How many kids would not -- didn't only four of 21 actually take you up on the offer?
HATHORN: Actually, I think the number is close to seven or eight now. I'm not in the classroom to give an exact total. But, you know, most people will tell you on extra credit assignments no one takes them easily until about a week before report card time. Nobody wants the credit.
COLMES: I don't think you should have been fired from this. I think you should not have been fired for this. Maybe they could have talked to you or something and you should get equal treatment to whatever teachers who have done similar things.
But it seems like you're giving unfair advantage to certain people who can arrange to do this project to get that extra credit.
HATHORN: Well, if I had extra credit, other extra credit assigned, and they chose not to go to "The Passion," they chose to read articles out of Catholic newspapers, which is what I had assigned, I don't see how that's unfair myself.
COLMES: What made you decide to do it this way, to use this movie as a way for extra credit?
HATHORN: It's a great movie. It's -- I took my own son to see this movie. I took my own son.
HANNITY: I hope you resolve this, Stephen. And I hope it works out. This isn't making sense to me so when you get it resolved, come back and we'll inform the audience about that. Thank you very much.
HATHORN: Yes, I will, Sean.
Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C. and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.