This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Nov. 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: A teacher is being banned by his school from showing students historical documents that make any reference to God, including the Declaration of Independence (search). The teacher is now suing the school for discrimination, claiming he's been singled out because he is a Christian. The school district released the following statement in response:
"The district believes that well-established constitutional principles relating to the separation of church and state must prevail. The district has not violated the constitutional rights of Mr. Williams or any other person. The district denies the allegations in the complaint and has referred the case to its attorneys."
Joining us now from California is fifth-grade teacher Steven Williams. And from Phoenix, Arizona, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund (search), Jordan Lorence.
Good to have you both with us.
Let me begin with you. Tell us what happened.
STEVEN WILLIAMS, FIFTH-GRADE TEACHER: Well, basically, it's just sad to me that the separation of church and state has been just kind of warped to mean that we can't even include some of our founding documents in the classroom.
COLMES: But what happened to you? Explain to us, explain to our audience what happened to you.
WILLIAMS: Yes. Last year, I hadn't changed my curriculum much at all. At the beginning of last year, towards about three weeks into it, after studying the Pledge, the student asked, Mr. Williams, why do we have "under God" in the Pledge?
And, at the time, as you know, the Supreme Court was going to be hearing that case, so I thought, wow, current events as well as past events is a very appropriate topic to talk about.
WILLIAMS: So we said, well, let's discuss this for a little bit. After discussing it for maybe three or four minutes, got to the end of the day. And about 20 minutes after the end of school, my principal came in and said, "What are you doing talking about God in the classroom?"
And I was kind of taken aback. And, as it turns out, a parent complained immediately after that.
About a month later — and again, this doesn't come up that much in my classroom. I think some people think that I'm trying to put these things in or talk about this all the time. — This has happened a handful of times this whole year, is what precipitated, you know, into this event.
COLMES: But what about the Declaration of Independence? Did you bring that document in?
Does the school have a right — let me go to Mr. Lorence — does the school have a right to determine what documents can or cannot be utilized by a teacher in the classroom?
JORDAN LORENCE, ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND: Well, they can. And here, in this situation, they allow teachers like Mr. Williams to bring in supplemental materials. And there are state governmental teaching guidelines that say what the objectives are that they are supposed to teach. And the Declaration of Independence clearly falls within it. He was doing nothing wrong. There was no particular ban on this.
HANNITY: Hey, Steven, Sean Hannity here. Thanks for being with us.
Now, I have read that less than 5 percent of your handouts, you know, even have any reference to God at all in this whole thing, correct?
WILLIAMS: That's right.
HANNITY: So this is a rare occurrence that just came up, as you mentioned earlier.
But I understand, as a result of you just discussing what was in the news, from a historical perspective, which I think was appropriate, that you had to submit all of your materials to the principal before you would even be allowed to use it in class. You were singled out, in other words?
WILLIAMS: Correct. About three-quarters of the way through the year, after, again, a handful of incidents that came up, after one incident, my principal said, "OK, before you hand out or talk about anything with references to God, Christianity, or Jesus, I want to know about it."
WILLIAMS: So I started to submit to her everything, and that's when I submitted to her one lesson plan. Then you've all heard the Declaration of Independence was banned, and it was.
What I submitted was three documents: William Penn's, "The Frame of Government (search)," Samuel Adams, "The Rights of Colonists (search)," and the Declaration of Independence. My intent, as I explained to my principal, was to show where the wording from the Declaration of Independence comes from. And it came — you can see the wording in our founding documents.
HANNITY: What was her rationale, Steven?
WILLIAMS: Well, in the e-mail that she replied to me, she said, quote — well, I'm paraphrasing — but she said that, once again, all of the documents that you submitted to me are of a religious nature and you are trying to push your religious views on to the students.
HANNITY: The Declaration of Independence is...
WILLIAMS: And the William Penn's "Frame of" — yes.
HANNITY: Well, I don't blame you for bringing suit here. And nobody else was treated this way. No other teacher had to give their documents ahead of time?
HANNITY: And they're so — the position is the Declaration of Independence is religious because it mentions, you know, endowed by their creator.
WILLIAMS: You know, and another thing, I just did a radio talk show yesterday. And a teacher called in and they debated why "under God" was in the Pledge. And so, it was amazing because, I proposed to my principal that — the kids to do that exact lesson, and she denied it because I was trying to push...
COLMES: Steven, we've got to pick it up again. We thank you very much for being with us tonight. Mr. Lorence, thank you.
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