Employees speaking for the government
mksabel at MINDSPRING.COM
Mon Dec 22 11:53:32 PST 1997
At 10:40 AM 12/22/97 EST, you wrote:
>Brad Jacobs wrote:
><< (5) Can Ms. Brown say, in response to a classroom inquiry, "I can't discuss
>my personal religious views here in school, but if you would like to meet me
>at Baskin-Robbins at 4:30, I would be happy to tell you about them"? >>
>Didn't the eleventh circuit answer this question in the negative in a case
>involving a professor of health and physical education offering to conduct
>informal lectures on the impact of the Christian world view on health and
>physical education philosophy?
Actually, as I recall it, the Eleventh Circuit stated in
dicta that the professor could answer the question if explicitly asked and
that the University could not prohibit the professor/plaintiff/Bishop from
answering the question. Bishop v. Aronov (1991). The professor's ability
to answer the question was dependent on whether the qustion was asked and/or
answered on state property or in class. Of course, the case arose out of a
university, rather than an elementary school, setting.
Bishop filed suit after the University of Alabama prohibited him
from injecting his religious views into classroom discussions (e.g.
requesting that his students inform him if his actions strayed from
Christian principles) and from holding "optional classes" on University
property, just before final exams, to discuss a Christian perspective of the
subject matter he taught in class (e.g. evidence of God in human anatomy).
The court held that the University could prohibit such practices (even if
they would not independently constitute establishment clause violations)
consistent with the free speech and free exercise rights of Professor Bishop
and without violating the Establishment Clause. But, the court indicated
that on-campus meetings on religious topics, organized by the professor for
interested students, could not be prohibited if certain steps were taken to
eradicate the appearance that the optional classes were related to specific
coursework (e.g. not scheduling the classes close to finals, clearly stating
that the classes were not mandatory and would have no bearing on grades,
implementing a blind-grading system, etc.).
For a criticism of the opinion as utilizing a standard
insufficiently protective of the professor's constitutional rights, see
Note, Peter Barber, Bishop v. Aronov: "No Talking in Class!"[more to the
title than this], Alabama Law Review (probably fall 1992).
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