Dispatches from the Creation Wars

History Teacher Proselytizing in Class

Here’s a story I bet is far more common than gets reported. A high school history teacher in New Jersey, David Paszkiewicz, has been using his position to proselytize students for Christianity. It’s not a coincidence that he is also a Baptist minister. But this time, a student has been taping the class and has proof.

On Sept. 14 — the fourth day of class — Paszkiewicz is on tape saying, “He (God) did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sin on his own body, suffered your pains for you and he’s saying, ‘Please accept me, believe me.’”

He adds, according to the tapes: “If you reject that, you belong in hell. The outcome is your prerogative. But the way I see it, God himself sent his only son to die for David Paszkiewicz on that cross … And if you reject that, then it really is to hell with you.”


This is obviously completely inappropriate for a public school history class. And he went beyond that, pushing his religious views on other courses he does not teach:

Paszkiewicz didn’t limit his religious observations to personal salvation, according to the tapes.

Paszkiewicz shot down the theories of evolution and the “Big Bang” in favor of creationism. He also told his class that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark, LaClair said.

And naturally, being the good Christian that he is, he lied about it until he found out he’d been taped:

On Oct. 10 — a month after he first requested a meeting with the principal — LaClair met with Paszkiewicz, Somma and the head of the social studies department.

At first, Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson, and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then he reached into his backpack and produced the CDs.

But he was lying for Jesus, so I guess that makes it okay. And LaClair is absolutely right when he says:

LaClair, who described his own religious views as “non-Christian,” said he wanted to complain about Paszkiewicz to school administrators, but feared his teacher would deny the charges and that no one would take a student’s word against a teacher’s.

So, he said, he started taping Paszkiewicz.

“I would never have suspected something like this went on in a public school,” LaClair said yesterday. “If I didn’t have those CDs, everything would have been dismissed.”

I suspect this sort of thing goes on all the time in some schools and the only reason it’s not caught is that no one complains about it, or those that do are dismissed. But with modern technology, it’s getting much easier to tape things and prove the charge. This teacher needs to be disciplined.

Update: It should be noted, though I wasn’t aware of it when I posted initially, that this story was broken in the blogosphere by Jim Lippard. The newspapers actually got the story from his post and other agitation from skeptics.

Comments

  1. #1 Will
    November 15, 2006

    This teacher needs to be disciplined.

    This teacher needs to be fired. It would be one thing if it was just the proselytizing in class. But he lied about it after being called out on it, so he knows what he was doing was unacceptable. He thought he was above the system.

  2. #2 Steve Reuland
    November 15, 2006

    Here’s a story I bet is far more common than gets reported.

    No kidding. Had the teacher told a student that he couldn’t bring his Bible to class, or told a student that she couldn’t pass out candy canes with religious messages on them, then all hell would break loose. It would be all over the cable talk shows with guest after guest denouncing the teacher.

    But a teacher blatantly proselytizes to the class? I doubt we’ll be hearing much about that.

  3. #3 Rich
    November 15, 2006

    I have a co-worker who was quized about his faith for an hour in a job interview..

  4. #4 kim
    November 15, 2006

    Well, I think I raise my kids in Europe!

  5. #5 Orac
    November 15, 2006

    Yeah, this is a bit too close to my neck of the woods. Surprisingly, not alot about it has been reported in the media, although it was the topic of conversation this morning in a segment of the radio show that I usually listen to on the way to work. Even the “conservative” of the conservative-liberal duo had a hard time defending this teacher.

  6. #6 llDayo
    November 15, 2006

    Wait, the student “taped” this on CDs? I know it’s off topic but I didn’t realize there were portable CD burners (unless the student first recorded it in class with something digital or a cassette and then transferred it onto CDs at home).

  7. #7 Jason I.
    November 15, 2006

    I didn’t hear religious rhetoric like that in high school, and I went to a Catholic school. The religion was taught in religion classes, and even then, not once was it taught as “And if you reject that, then it really is to hell with you”. I had priests teaching science courses that covered evolution and history courses that in no way mentioned Noah’s Ark. I used to think religious nutballs like Paszkiewicz should go teach at parochial schools, but my guess is that they wouldn’t want him.

  8. #8 Ginger Yellow
    November 15, 2006

    You’ve got to feel sorry even for the Christians in his class who had to listen to that crap rather than be taught history.

  9. #9 Martin Wagner
    November 15, 2006

    Wait, the student “taped” this on CDs? I know it’s off topic but I didn’t realize there were portable CD burners (unless the student first recorded it in class with something digital or a cassette and then transferred it onto CDs at home).

    Yes, that’s probably the case.

  10. #10 Uber
    November 15, 2006

    and even then, not once was it taught as “And if you reject that, then it really is to hell with you”.

    Horrible for a teacher, horrible for any human to think or believe.

  11. #11 Jason
    November 15, 2006

    Prosletyzing should have just resulted in discipline.

    Lying about it should result in immediate termination.

  12. #12 DuWayne
    November 15, 2006

    Ildayo said -
    Wait, the student “taped” this on CDs? I know it’s off topic but I didn’t realize there were portable CD burners (unless the student first recorded it in class with something digital or a cassette and then transferred it onto CDs at home).

    Probably recorded it on a digital recorder and burned it. Though there are portable burners on the market as well.

    Personaly, I think he should be fired, even aside from lying about it. Aside from the obvious issues non-Christians righfully have with it, teaching my child about my faith, is my job and that of those I trust. I send my son to school to learn academics – period. I certainly do not send him to learn about hell.

  13. #13 VJB
    November 15, 2006

    don’t forget minidisc recorders. they’re cheap and very small. Also, with a good mike, excellent audio recorders.

  14. #14 Daniel Morgan
    November 15, 2006

    Guess who taught my AP Biology class?

    A local creationist pastor, Rick Blevins. Thankfully, it appears that he is now teaching only Bio I. I’m sure he still does the same anti-evolution spiel, though.

    Guess what our three-day discussion of evolution that year consisted of? Numerous assertions of how stupid evolution is, including one beauty of an example wherein Pastor Blevins flapped his arms and said, “Guess what, if I did this for a billion years, and jumped off a mountain, it wouldn’t help me one bit to grow wings!”

    Case closed.

    Global scientific community: 0
    Pastor Rick Blevins, unqualified AP Bio teacher: 1

  15. #15 SharonB
    November 15, 2006

    It will be truly interesting to see if the ADF or the ACLJ come to his defense. If they do, just wait for the spin from agape press et al. He is, the victim here, ya know.

  16. #16 Keanus
    November 15, 2006

    Someone should inform Jon Stewart or Keith Olberman of this. Both would have a field day with this guy. I could even imagine Stewart inviting him on the program for his “Seat of Heat” segment. There’d be blood all over the floor and it wouln’t be Jon’s.

  17. #17 Blake Stacey
    November 15, 2006

    PZ Myers now links to one of the audio recordings. Lots of it is hard to make out, but towards the end, the student with the microphone starts putting the teacher on the spot with specific questions.

  18. #18 justawriter
    November 15, 2006

    Most laptops have had audio input ports and even built in mics for ages and cd/dvd burners are standard equipment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the kid just turned on his audio program the minute the teacher started spouting off. Smart kid.

  19. #19 Jim Anderson
    November 15, 2006

    You can even record with an iPod. That’s how anti-war ranter Jay Bennish was caught.

  20. #20 Crimson King
    November 16, 2006

    I agree that this is a lot more common then most people think. I personally have had an otherwise normal teacher start handing out ID pamphlets in class. The difference is, he only did it when he knew he was leaving the school for good, so he had nothing to lose. Oddly enough he was actually quite a good teacher gith up to this point. I suppose you can never tell for sure who the crazy ones are.

  21. #21 DuWayne
    November 16, 2006

    I would add that I imagine this happens all too often – not simply with religion. I read the transcript of what the teacher Jim Anderson was referring to. While I agree in part with what he had to say it was a highly innapropriate bash on capitalism and a highly political attack on the bush administration. Neither of which is appropriate in a public school. While I am not against the notion of making clear the limitations of capitalism and stressing that we don’t have a purely capitalist society, politicising the way he was is just as disgusting as proselytizing. Unfortunately, I would imagine it is just as common.

  22. #22 Monimonika
    November 16, 2006

    Back at Jim Lippard’s post, there’s this person called hahawhat? claiming to be “a sister of a fellow classmate in this kids class.” (she admits her grammar isn’t good). She basically says that what LaClair did was entrapment, because (according to her) the audio recording clearly points out that the teacher asked whether the class wanted to talk about religion or not beforehand, and that LaClair should have voiced, “Nay, talk about populism instead.” Not only that, she says that LaClair himself was the one who brought up religion in the first place.

    I can’t tell much from the recording, but is this in any way possible? Even if so, I’d think the teacher specifically lying about ever saying “you belong to hell” is a clincher. Surely he’d remember saying that even if it was because he was asked for his honest opinion.

  23. #23 MartinM
    November 16, 2006

    I don’t really see how that’s relevant. If the class votes to talk about fluffy white bunnies, they don’t get to actually do so. If the class wants to talk religion in history class, then they can talk religion in a historical context. Doesn’t appear to be what happened.

  24. #24 Paul
    November 16, 2006

    This is Matthew’s dad. I have heard the audio several times. Paszkiewicz initiated nearly every topic in this 40-minute class session, except as otherwise noted. The topics, in order of appearance are:
    (1) He does not want his children dressing certain ways on Halloween;
    (2) He home schooled his children until recently.
    (3) Kearny is a good town (student initiated)
    (4) Criticism of public education, e.g., cannot read from the Bible
    (5) He believes in sin and man’s fall
    (6) His children must follow his religion until age 18
    (7) Purposes of public school (student initiated and quickly disposed of by Paszkiewicz)
    (8) The Christian scriptures are not religion
    (9) Evolution is not science
    (10) The Big Bang could not have happened
    (11) Faith (student initiated)
    (12) A being created the universe
    {At this point, for the first time, Paszkiewicz asks, “Is this bothering anyone?”}
    (13) Christian faith is proved by Biblical prophecies, which have “come true to the letter and verified”
    (14) God told Moses what he had done before there were people to observe it, that’s how Moses knew what to write
    (15) Suppose you were God. God gives choice
    (16) My son’s reply: I wouldn’t send my children to hell for eternity.
    That is what “elicited” the comment about belonging in hell.
    What happened is that Matthew challenged his theology, and Paskiewicz responded accordingly. Draw your own conclusions.

  25. #25 Will
    November 16, 2006

    She basically says that what LaClair did was entrapment, because (according to her) the audio recording clearly points out that the teacher asked whether the class wanted to talk about religion or not beforehand

    Even if he did ask, it’s still wrong. He shouldn’t have even asked. His lying after the fact shows that he knew he shouldn’t have been preaching in class.

  26. #26 Scott H
    November 16, 2006

    At first, Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson, and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then he reached into his backpack and produced the CDs.

    And, just like the Dover clowns, Paskiewicz lied through his teeth to deny what he was doing. Why is that such a consistent theme with these Christians?

  27. #27 Lou FCD
    November 16, 2006

    I really liked his comment on his kid.

    “If my kid is age 12, and he’s telling me ‘Dad I appreciate your time and effort but I’ve decided in my 12 years of wisdom that I’m going to stop going to church,’ after I break his backside, we’re gonna have – we’re gonna have a little attitude adjustment.”

    Nice guy. Glad he’s not my Dad.

  28. #28 Monimonika
    November 16, 2006

    Thank you, Paul, for your run-down of what the audio contained. It was very informative and I can now use it to help me follow the audio (once I have time after work). What I find to be very clear so far is that the teacher was wasting A LOT of class time on stuff that didn’t have much to do with history, and what parts that he did speak of that contained even a smidgeon of history were highly inaccurate.

    I don’t know if this had been mentioned yet, but what part of history is David Paszkiewicz supposed to be teaching? World History? US History? What section was the class supposed to be learning at the time?

    One part of the audio that I was able to figure out on my own (yeah, I skipped around a bit to find an audible spot) was Paszkiewicz’s claim that Moses was amazingly scientifically accurate for his time because the beginning of Genesis said that light came before man, thus illustrating that he (Moses) understood that things started simple and became more complex, just like science today says!

    Uh, yeah, and how does the creation of the sun AFTER the creation of the water and land (a.k.a. planet Earth) fit into today’s scientific knowledge of the world? Skipping a whole bunch of important (but inconvenient) steps in Genesis to prove his point there, isn’t he?

  29. #29 Monimonika
    November 16, 2006

    Nevermind about telling me what Paszkiewicz was supposed to be teaching. I got the info from some later comments and links in Lippard’s thread. US History, huh? I’m betting money that he also teaches that the US of A is a “Christian Nation”.

  30. #30 Raging Bee
    November 16, 2006

    Jason I: the reason most parochial schools would not want this guy as a teacher, is — in addition to his ignorance of just about everything else — his ignorance of his own faith. His threats of Hell prove this: he has nothing else to offer!

  31. #31 James Allen
    November 16, 2006

    My High School (Flippin High School – Go Bobcats!) probably had one of the highest minister to non-minister faculty ratios of any public school anywhere. Our Civics/History, Math, Biology, and Band teachers were all ministers of some sort. That’s in addition to our men’s Basketball coach (who also taught Health) and High School Principal. And that’s out of about a dozen to fifteen teachers total. Mostly, they were Church of Christ or Southern Baptist, so they weren’t exactly liberal in their beliefs either. But I will say one thing for my school, everybody there believed in the separation of Church and State. If they didn’t believe in it, at least they followed it.

    We had only one incident of anything like this that I can remember. It was actually not even a regular teacher or minister that did it either. It was some wack-job they brought in as a substitute for our Physics teacher. He was real brilliant too. Instead of just trying to convert us to his religious beliefs by talking to us, he actually handed out those little Jack Chick tracts. One of the students in class that was arguing with him was a Mormon and he gave her a Jack Chick all about how Mormons are going to burn in Hell for worshiping a false god. Unfortunately for him, she wasn’t one to be bullied around and went straight to the principal’s office after class with his tract. I don’t know exactly what happened from there, but he wasn’t teaching class next period and we never saw him again.

  32. #32 ERV
    November 16, 2006

    Of course this happens all the time– lets not forget the Smalkowski girl and what happened to her family. Not only do these kinds of Christians want to be able to whatever they want without repercussions, theyre willing to physically and mentally harm anyone- adult or child- that gets in their way.

    In light of that, Paul, you have a brave and clever son.

  33. #33 SharonB
    November 16, 2006

    The spinning begins:

    “New Jersey Teacher Brings Christian Views Into History Class” http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2006/11/new-jersey-teacher-brings-christian.html

    Found on the ADF site, surprise, surprise. Under Religious Freedom. Left out a few details, though, because you know there is NO religious freedom in the land unless christianists can coerce children in the public schools.

  34. #34 Will
    November 16, 2006

    SharonB -

    I’m a bit confused by your link. You seem to imply that it is somehow spinning or distorting the story. What you linked to is a straightforward commentary-free reporting of the incident. The blog also appears to be promoting separation of church and state, and in fact links to this blog.

  35. #35 Ed Brayton
    November 16, 2006

    Yeah, I’m as confused as Will is. The link was to Howard Friedman’s blog, but there’s no spin there. And Howard is not at all allied with the ADF.

  36. #36 SharonB
    November 16, 2006

    The spin is that it was linked FROM the ADF site. They had it on their “Religious Freedom” topic, which is fair, but the title implied that all Paszkiewicz did was to bring his viewpoint into the classroom, which left a lot of details out. When I viewed Friedman’s article the first time it seemed lacking in details. I must have been mistaken, because it does in fact carry the salient points. My bad; I misread it the first time.

  37. #37 Uber
    November 16, 2006

    in addition to his ignorance of just about everything else — his ignorance of his own faith. His threats of Hell prove this: he has nothing else to offer!

    He is ignorant, but not of his own faith. He believes in hell. In my opinion a moral failing on his part but not an ignorance of a particular belief system.

  38. #38 Raging Bee
    November 16, 2006

    Uber: Christianity, like most decent belief systems, has a lot to offer in the way of common sense, better priorities for living, a moral code to live by, etc. Sermons about Hell are a sure sign that the preacher does not comprehend the good things his religion has to offer, and thus can’t present them to his flock in a convincing manner (or that he has no use for such positive things and wants only to threaten and control others).

  39. #39 trilobite
    November 16, 2006

    Kids, DON’T try this at school!

    Because in many states, and I hope for this kid’s sake that New Jersey is not one of them, it is a crime to tape someone without their knowledge.

  40. #40 Paul
    November 16, 2006

    In answer to a question above, the class is US History 1880 to the present. Believe it or not, in a meeting the in principal’s office on October 10, Paszkiewicz argued that the beginning of the universe is history . . . .

    Ay, yi, yi. I think that’s generally called pre-history.

  41. #41 Skemono
    November 16, 2006

    In answer to a question above, the class is US History 1880 to the present. Believe it or not, in a meeting the in principal’s office on October 10, Paszkiewicz argued that the beginning of the universe is history . . . .

    History, maybe. But US history from 1880? He believes the universe is only 126 years old?

  42. #42 nunyer
    November 16, 2006

    Paul, can you check the standard teaching contract for the district? It probably has a clause in it that specifies that the teacher is hired to teach the district’s curriculum as assigned by the administration. It’s doubtful that the ‘history of the universe’ and ‘bringing people to Jesus’ is part of the 11th grade US History curriculum in your district, so he might be in breach of contract.

    BTW, good job raising your son. We need more like him!

  43. #43 Blake Stacey
    November 16, 2006

    @trilobite:

    A quick bit of web-searching confirms that New Jersey is a “one-party consent” state, a naughty-sounding phrase if I ever heard one. This point is typically raised in connection with recording telephone conversations, but it also applies to the LaClair case.

  44. #44 Uber
    November 16, 2006

    Christianity, like most decent belief systems, has a lot to offer in the way of common sense, better priorities for living, a moral code to live by, etc.

    I’m not sure I agree with this at all. I think especially the common sense aspect of it. I do agree that love and forgiveness is a very valuable asset to a human being.

    Sermons about Hell are a sure sign that the preacher does not comprehend the good things his religion has to offer, and thus can’t present them to his flock in a convincing manner (or that he has no use for such positive things and wants only to threaten and control others

    Again I tend to disagree. As a pastor if he believes this to be true I think he would be remiss not to include it(and again have a moral failing in my judgement).I doubt he could use the sermon every Sunday without also mentioning the things you state. At least that has been my experience.

    In any event I don’t think he doesn’t comprehend the good just because he mentions the negative aspects of his belief system as well. In that regard I find him fairly honest even if I regard his belief as immoral.

  45. #45 Ktesibios
    November 16, 2006

    Regarding the points brought up by trilobite and Blake Stacey:

    I’m a recording engineer and audio techie by trade. When I worked in Philadelphis one of my peculiar specialties was cleaning up badly made recordings for the legal profession. Most of the time it was mundane stuff like depositions where both the court reporter’s machine and the audio backup had gone bad and they needed the intelligibility enhanced so the tape could be transcribed, but sometimes the job was a bit meatier.

    One such job involved working on a very noisy recording surreptitiously made in a restaurant in new Jersey, which was potential evidence in a murder trial in Pennsylvania. The lawyer I did the job for explained to me that the reason the woman who had made the tape had lured the guy she recorded into New Jersey was that NJ is a “one-party” state, while PA is a “two-party” state. He also explained that since the recording was made legally in NJ, it would be admissible in evidence in a PA court.

    So I would modify trilobite’s advice to ” don’t forget to check your state’s wiretapping laws before doing this”.

  46. #46 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    Uber: you consider threats of eternal damnation, in lieu of sensible discourse or positive, compassionate ministry, to be “fairly honest?” “Fairly honest” relative to what? Or is your definition of “honesty” different from mine?

    I, for one, consider such threats a dodge, a con-game, and a form of bullying, whether or not the preacher actually believes any of it. Furthermore, I have often seen such threats used as cover for actions contrary to Christ’s teachings — which doesn’t exactly strike me as “fairly honest,” or even “unfailrly honest.”

  47. #47 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    Raging Bee,

    I’m not sure where you are coming from with your posts. It’s not a matter of what I feel it’s a matter of what the religion in many of it’s forms states. So asking me inflammatory questions is rather beside the point. What the teacher did was not out of line with Christian theology. You may not endorse his approach but he is not ignorant of his religion.

    Hell is a part of Christian theology. It is certainly not dishonest to use it if one is prone to do so. One may argue that if one believes in such immoral concepts that it is an absolute necessity.

  48. #48 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    It’s not a matter of what I feel it’s a matter of what the religion in many of it’s forms states.

    “Many” of its “forms,” but not ALL of its forms.

    So asking me inflammatory questions is rather beside the point.

    If I’m asking questions about the points you make, how can they be “beside the point?”

    What the teacher did was not out of line with Christian theology.

    That depends on which Christian you ask. I’ve met meny Christians who would say that substituting threats of Hell for honest witness of God’s love and wisdom is indeed “out of line” with their theology; not to mention presumptuous in the extreme because it second-guesses God’s decisions about who goes where in the afterlife.

    You may not endorse his approach but he is not ignorant of his religion.

    I’m not a Christian now, but I’ve been a Christian long enough, and know enough Christians, to say that if he threatens teenagers with Hell, rather than make a positive case from Scripture and experience, then he can indeed be considered ignorant of his religion (unless of course his religion is entirely based on Chick tracts and not the Bible itself).

    Hell is a part of Christian theology.

    Christian theology has LOTS of parts, of which (varying interpretations of) Hell is only one. When we interpret the Bible, we are obligated to consider priorities, degree and context, not just chapter-and-verse citations.

    It is certainly not dishonest to use it if one is prone to do so.

    If one is “prone” to use it to silence reasoned criticism in a SCHOOL, then one is indeed being dishonest. Calling it a part of one’s religion does not make it justifiable.

  49. #49 Gretchen
    November 17, 2006

    One may argue that if one believes in such immoral concepts that it is an absolute necessity.

    Exactly. If you actually believe in Hell, and that the people you’re talking to will go there if they don’t change their ways/beliefs, then there is absolutely nothing more important to tell them about.

  50. #50 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    Raging Bee,

    You have some issues with this topic and frankly I’m not sure why. You are essentially arguing with yourself. The man is not being dishonest. You may not like his approach but it is not dishonest. I think his belief is immoral and disagree with him nearly 100% but I don’t think he doesn’t understand his belief system.

    Many” of its “forms,” but not ALL of its forms.

    Isn’t that what I said?

    What the teacher did was not out of line with Christian theology.

    That depends on which Christian you ask. I’ve met meny Christians who would say that substituting threats of Hell for honest witness of God’s love and wisdom is indeed “out of line” with their theology; not to mention presumptuous in the extreme because it second-guesses God’s decisions about who goes where in the afterlife

    Presumptuous perhaps but not dishonest.

    You may not endorse his approach but he is not ignorant of his religion.

    I’m not a Christian now, but I’ve been a Christian long enough, and know enough Christians, to say that if he threatens teenagers with Hell, rather than make a positive case from Scripture and experience, then he can indeed be considered ignorant of his religion (unless of course his religion is entirely based on Chick tracts and not the Bible itself).

    No he cannot. His approach may not be one you approve of but he is providing a view shared by many who do not endorse ‘Chick’ tracts. His theology is as valid as anyone elses. Your argument basically boils down to ‘push the good, hide the ugly’.

    Hell is a part of Christian theology.

    Christian theology has LOTS of parts, of which (varying interpretations of) Hell is only one. When we interpret the Bible, we are obligated to consider priorities, degree and context, not just chapter-and-verse citations.

    No kidding. Do you just argue to argue? Hell is a part of it. No one said it was the only part.

    If one is “prone” to use it to silence reasoned criticism in a SCHOOL, then one is indeed being dishonest.

    No he’s not. Aggressive maybe but in his theology if you don’t buy into Jesus you go to hell. He was making an argument from that point. I think he’s wrong and anyone who believes such things have incorporated a very immoral idea but he presented his point of view honestly.

    He lied in the office later.

  51. #51 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    Your argument basically boils down to ‘push the good, hide the ugly’.

    And why does this argument have less merit than “push the ugly, hide the good?” At least I’m trying to find something good, instead of seeking out more evil.

    And why are you so determined to insist that people who threaten others with eternal damnation are somehow “honest?” Whether you intend this or not, you sound a lot like certain atheists, such as Dawkins and Harris, who pretend that the worst interpretations of a religious doctrine are the “true” and “honest” face of that religion, while less hateful interpretations are somehow less “true,” “honest” or “pure.”

    We seem to agree that these threats of Hell are wrong. I say they’re wrong because they’re dishonest, and I describe WHY I consider them dishonest; but you reject those arguments without refuting them. Do you really consider using threats to silence debate in a school “honest?” I don’t. And if such behavior is not wrong because it’s dishonest, then why, exactly, do you consider it wrong?

  52. #52 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    One more try:

    And why does this argument have less merit than “push the ugly, hide the good?” At least I’m trying to find something good, instead of seeking out more evil.

    As I have said your arguing about the approach not what he said here. Your argument doesn’t have less ‘merit’ neither does it have more.

    And why are you so determined to insist that people who threaten others with eternal damnation are somehow “honest?”

    It is part of the theology of the religion. You certainly can’t call someone who acknowledges this dishonest.

    Whether you intend this or not, you sound a lot like certain atheists, such as Dawkins and Harris, who pretend that the worst interpretations of a religious doctrine are the “true” and “honest” face of that religion, while less hateful interpretations are somehow less “true,” “honest” or “pure.”

    Then I doubt you read much of either man. There is no better version of hell. It’s an immoral concept. Why hide it at all? You seem to be saying that hell is not a part of theology and anyone who preaches to this aspect is dishonest. Essentially the same thing you accuse these men of doing. I see Harris and Dawkins of removing the feel good veneer of religion and exposing the fear it is oftentimes predicated on. But thats a rathole I’m not going down.

    We seem to agree that these threats of Hell are wrong. I say they’re wrong because they’re dishonest, and I describe WHY I consider them dishonest; but you reject those arguments without refuting them.

    Refute your argument? You have yet to say why talking about hell as a part of Christian theology is even remotely dishonest. You prefer a different approach which is fine but it doesn’t make your view better and his worse. They are flip sides of the same page.

    Do you really consider using threats to silence debate in a school “honest?” I don’t. And if such behavior is not wrong because it’s dishonest, then why, exactly, do you consider it wrong?

    His discussion wasn’t to silence debate but rather to express his intolerant religious viewpoint. His honestly held if immoral at its core viewpoint.

  53. #53 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    His discussion wasn’t to silence debate but rather to express his intolerant religious viewpoint. His honestly held if immoral at its core viewpoint.

    Are you saying that an act that is dishonest (i.e., using threats to stifle debate) can be called honest if it’s part of someone’s “theology?”

    I could just as easily say that if (according to me) my religion demanded I defraud you, then such fraud would therefore be an “honest” act based on an “honestly held” opinion. Sorry, but that sort of rationalization is itself dishonest.

    Whose moral code, exactly, are you trying to apply and uphold?

    You have yet to say why talking about hell as a part of Christian theology is even remotely dishonest.

    Excuse me? Reread my posts and see how dishonest that statement of yours is.

    Then I doubt you read much of either man. [Dawkins and Harris]

    I read what they chose to say in interviews, and what I read leads me to conclude that their books about religion aren’t worth stealing, let alone reading. If I misunderstood their true opinions, based on their own words, it’s their fault, not mine.

    …But thats a rathole I’m not going down.

    Defending Dawkins and Harris is a “rathole?” That’s a stunning endorsement. Not. (And further proof that those two anti-religious hacks are indefensible.)

  54. #54 ilovedave.
    November 17, 2006

    I would just like to let everyone know that this situation has actually been blown way out of proportion and Mr. Paszkiewicz is one of the most admirable men I have ever met. Coming from Kearny, NJ and spending my high school years with him were more rewarding than anything else. And, no, I am not Christian in any sense of the word. He respected me just as much as any Christian, Atheist, Jew, etc. Kids in class would always be interested in what he believed in since he is so devout and would induce him to speak about it in class. I would think that sparking discussion is a good thing, don’t you?

  55. #55 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    Wow. Why I’m even doing this is beyond me, current boredom I guess.

    Are you saying that an act that is dishonest (i.e., using threats to stifle debate) can be called honest if it’s part of someone’s “theology?”

    The man was involved in a classroom discussion for goodness sakes. He presented a disgusting point of view as part of the conversation. How did he stifle debate and if he did how does that make his discussing hell dishonest? You can hear the kid still talking as the class ends so he was able to speak. The point is should this teacher have been discussing it at all not whether a ‘debate’ was stiffled.

    You initially said:

    his ignorance of his own faith.

    He is not being ignorant by stating what his religion believes no matter how you slice it. You may not like it but thats the way it it. You are arguing against his approach.

    Excuse me? Reread my posts and see how dishonest that statement of yours is.

    And now I’m dishonest? Interesting, you are an odd individual.

    read what they chose to say in interviews, and what I read leads me to conclude that their books about religion aren’t worth stealing, let alone reading. If I misunderstood their true opinions, based on their own words, it’s their fault, not mine.

    So you admit you are ignorant of what they actually think and write in their books yet go around spouting your BS about them. Now of course that is very honest. Perhaps you are not the best source for honesty in this discussion.

    Defending Dawkins and Harris is a “rathole?” That’s a stunning endorsement. Not. (And further proof that those two anti-religious hacks are indefensible.)

    Or perhaps an admission that time is limited and I have seen such discussions spiral away from the topic at hand. But read into it whatever demented notions you wish.

    Oh and this is funny:

    I could just as easily say that if (according to me) my religion demanded I defraud you, then such fraud would therefore be an “honest” act based on an “honestly held” opinion. Sorry, but that sort of rationalization is itself dishonest.

    No it wouldn’t. Just as a belief in hell is immoral. Making it part of a religion doesn’t change that aspect. But if you believed fraud was an essential part of your theology you wouldn’t be dishonest because you presented it as your view, you’d be dishonest because fraud hurts other people and that is true whether it’s your religious view or not.

    It’s not a rationalization at all and if you can’t ascertain the difference I can’t help you on a message board.

  56. #56 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    But if you believed fraud was an essential part of your theology you wouldn’t be dishonest because you presented it as your view, you’d be dishonest because fraud hurts other people and that is true whether it’s your religious view or not.

    First, “dishonesty” and “hurting other people” are not the same things, although there is, of course, quite a lot of overlap. And second, if you can make that argument about fraud, then why can’t I make exactly the same argument about threats of Hell? Such threats do indeed hurt others, by stifling debate, subverting reason, bullying people into terrified unquestioning conformity, and — in the opinion of many Christians — often obscuring and distorting key points of Christian teachings and human nature.

    So you admit you are ignorant of what they actually think and write in their books yet go around spouting your BS about them.

    I am NOT ignorant of what they say in interviews, nor do I spout BS about it. As I said before, if what they said in interviews is not representative of what they write, that’s their fault, as is any misunderstanding their words may cause.

    (I don’t have time to read every book ever written, therefore I have to judge what’s worth my time based on available information. Have you read everything Lyndon LaRouche ever wrote? Probably not — I’m going to guess you heard enough to indicate he was nuts, and spent no more precious time on him. In theory, that makes you “ignorant” about LaRouche; in practice, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not missing anything important.)

  57. #57 DuWayne
    November 17, 2006

    ilovedave said -
    I would just like to let everyone know that this situation has actually been blown way out of proportion and Mr. Paszkiewicz is one of the most admirable men I have ever met. Coming from Kearny, NJ and spending my high school years with him were more rewarding than anything else. And, no, I am not Christian in any sense of the word. He respected me just as much as any Christian, Atheist, Jew, etc. Kids in class would always be interested in what he believed in since he is so devout and would induce him to speak about it in class. I would think that sparking discussion is a good thing, don’t you?

    No, I don’t think it has been blown out of proportion. I read a transcript of the recording and he was entirely out of line. Teachers do not and should not have the freedom to express their religious views in the public school classroom. They certainly do not have the freedom to tell everyone in the class that does not believe as they do, that they are going to hell.

    Public schools are not the appropriate venue for these kind of discussions – at least not during class time. Certainly a extra-curricular club is an appropriate place for it, but even there, members of faculty should moderate – not take a position in the discussion.

  58. #58 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    First, “dishonesty” and “hurting other people” are not the same things, although there is, of course, quite a lot of overlap

    No kidding and I see the entire effort expended to help you understand something is lost in your missplaced zeal to ‘win’ an argument.

    I am NOT ignorant of what they say in interviews, nor do I spout BS about it. As I said before, if what they said in interviews is not representative of what they write, that’s their fault, as is any misunderstanding their words may cause.

    You have made many uninformed comments on both of these men and misrepresent their position so you can bash a strawman so I guess you can feel better about yourself. Your motivations are lost on me otherwise.

    (I don’t have time to read every book ever written, therefore I have to judge what’s worth my time based on available information. Have you read everything Lyndon LaRouche ever wrote? Probably not — I’m going to guess you heard enough to indicate he was nuts, and spent no more precious time on him. In theory, that makes you “ignorant” about LaRouche; in practice, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not missing anything important

    You seriously need help. I would not comment on Mr. LaRouche if I didn’t know much about him. Comparing Dawkins and his well reasoned views to this fellow is just bizarre.

  59. #59 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    If I’m so far wrong about Dawkins, why don’t you give me an example of his “well reasoned views?” So far, I’ve heard nothing of the sort from Dawkins or Harris, just bigotry hidden behind obvious logical fallacies; so if you have anything better from him, I’d be relieved to hear it.

    (PS: I’ll be leaving soon for the weekend, so I may not be able to respond here until Tuesday.)

  60. #60 Uber
    November 17, 2006

    Please without reading either individuals books give an example of a ‘logical’ fallacy that these men overlooked?

    I can’t believe a person who hasn’t read either man is sitting here insulting them and earlier was making a big deal out of a teacher being dishonest.

    I doubt you have a firm enough grasp on logic to make comments either way.

  61. #61 Raging Bee
    November 17, 2006

    I can’t believe a person who hasn’t read either man is sitting here insulting them…

    And I can’t believe that Dawkins and Harris made bigoted and insulting statements about me, all of my friends, and most of my family (not to mention countless others that neither of us even met), on the flimsiest guilt-by-association rationale (if you have a religious belief, you’re enabling extremists, regardless of what you actually believe, say or do), despite the fact that none of us had done them any wrong.

    (And stop saying I “haven’t read either man;” I read their interviews in Salon, and am commenting on what I read there, which you refuse to even acknowledge. As I said before, if what they said in the interviews is not representative of their actual thoughts, then they chose their words poorly, and thus can’t be trusted to represent their thoughts clearly or consistently.)

    Please without reading either individuals books give an example of a ‘logical’ fallacy that these men overlooked?

    I covered Dawkins’ Salon comments on my own blog, in two posts titled “Surprise – Atheists can be Stupid Bigots Too” and “Another Take on Dawkins.” In short, the main fallacies are guilt by association (a common feature of bigotry) and over-generalization (another common feature of bigotry).

  62. #62 Kevin G
    November 23, 2006

    I just listened to the recording.

    The points maintained by the teacher will ring true for some, and not for others.

    Unfortunately, these private beliefs are presented in a public service (school).

    This sounds like an excellent conversation that could happen after school, where the students could walk away if they choose.

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