A student and his family have filed a federal lawsuit demanding that a popular European history teacher at California's Capistrano Valley High School be fired for what they say were anti-Christian remarks he made in the classroom.
Chad Farnan, a 16-year-old sophomore, says the teacher, James Corbett, told his students that “Jesus glasses” obscure the truth and suggested that Christians are more likely than other people to commit rape and murder.
Farnan recorded his teacher telling students in class: “What country has the highest murder rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rate of church attendance? The South!” Farnan said he took the tape recorder to class to supplement his class notes.
“It was very hard for me because it’s like basically telling me all this stuff that I’ve believed my whole entire life — it’s just basically trying to throw it out the window,” Farnan told FOX News.
Farnan’s family has filed a federal lawsuit against the Capistrano Unified School District, claiming Corbett's remarks violated the First Amendment, which prohibits laws "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." They are demanding that Corbett be fired.
Corbett’s attorney, Dan Spradlin, says his client has been teaching at Capistrano Valley High for 15 years and is in no way anti-Christian. According to Spradlin, Corbett was not trying to offend anyone but to inspire his students to think.
“The purpose is not to indoctrinate, but simply to provide a basic starting point to provoke discussion,” Spradlin said.
Farnan said he was insulted by Corbett's comments. When Farnan played the tapes for his mother, Teresa, she contacted Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a non-profit law firm that specializes in such cases, to seek redress.
The Farnans' complaint was dismissed by the school district, but they took their plight to federal court, where U.S. District Judge James Selna said he believed the case has merit and ordered it to go forward, probably before the end of the year.
The Farnans say that if the school agrees to put Corbett through sensitivity training and requires him to apologize to the students he offended, then the family would consider dropping their lawsuit. The school district has yet to comment on the offer.
Anita Vogel joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles based correspondent.