Pharyngula

Just ask Richard Mullens, who has not said he is an atheist, but was suspected of being one…and lost his job as a teacher for that reason.

Then on January 7th, a student in my classroom in second period left my class, went to the Principal’s office, and told him that there was an inappropriate discussion in my classroom. I was informed by the principal, Richard Turner, that I needed to talk to her mother because she was very upset. Her mother came to class on January 7th, came to the school January 7th, very upset. She made some threats to me in the hallway. And then on January 8th, Mr. Turner informed me that I needed to call the parent, Mrs. Lowe. On January 9th, I had Vicki Smith, the school secretary, call “REDACTED” on my behalf to arrange a conference at 10:35 Monday, January 12th. Monday the 12th, I met with REDACTED and School Principal Richard Turner in his office. REDACTED was very angry. She accused me of being an atheist, saying I was too liberal, and that I allowed the students to talk about inappropriate things in the classroom. I told her that occasionally students would get on topics and say things, but I was unable to censor them before they were able to say them. She said that I called her daughter a name and I denied the accusation. But then she said that I didn’t believe in god and shouldn’t be teaching. She also said that she had spoken to 3 other board members who agreed with her that I shouldn’t be teaching because I was too liberal and I was an atheist.

On January 15th, there was a board meeting. Nothing was on the agenda concerning me. During the open forum, several audience members spoke to their concerns that I was an atheist and I was too liberal. On January 16th, I was called to Mr. Richard Turner’s office (my principal), and he informed me that I had been put on administrative leave with pay. The reasons, as stated to me by Mr. Turner at the time, were that I was accused of being an atheist and teaching atheism in the classroom, and I was too liberal. On January 23rd, Mr. Turner and members of the board met behind closed doors concerning my suspension and allegations that were directed at me. On January 24th, I received a certified letter from Mr. Turner that stated that the causes for my suspension apparently had been changed to inappropriate contact with students and comments.

He should count himself lucky. If the parents had accused him of being a witch, he might have been hanged by now.

Comments

  1. #1 REDACTED
    February 5, 2009

    He turned me into a newt!

  2. #2 Brownian
    February 5, 2009

    Firing people for suspected atheism? That’s nothing. Did you read the emails sent to you by David Hartmann and Steve Broten?

    You’re mean, and apparently, that’s the real crime.

  3. #3 Bullet Magnet
    February 5, 2009

    It’s a peculiar thing, to have one of the innocuous traits that describe you be used as the most terrible slur by some people. Such as it was with the Heathens and Pagans, perhaps.

  4. #4 MikeySize
    February 5, 2009

    I am an atheist science teacher in Texas, and this is the most terrifying story I’ve read. Ever.

    I can’t access the referenced blog from my school computer because it’s blocked. Do you have any more documentation regarding this story?

    I appreciate the info.

  5. #5 Orson Zedd
    February 5, 2009

    He has my support. Southern Atheist Teachers have to stick together.

  6. #6 Wowbagger
    February 5, 2009

    The school is going to have to build a new wing just to store all the letters (or, alternatively, a new server to handle the emails) they’re going to get once this gets publicised enough.

    Let the shitstorm begin.

  7. #7 Tom
    February 5, 2009

    I’m almost certain that firing someone because of their religious beliefs is illegal even in Texas. But I think it’s OK to lynch him.

  8. #8 Rey Fox
    February 5, 2009

    Who is up for firing teachers who are too religious and too conservative?

  9. #9 Tabby Lavalamp
    February 5, 2009

    When will the States finally just break up into two countries, one for people who freak out over suspected atheists who are too liberal and one for reasonable people. Let the crazy states devolve into a bronze age wasteland. As a Canadian and an Albertan, I’m fully authorized to let them take Alberta with them.

  10. #10 norm!
    February 5, 2009

    I’d like to know how to quantify liberalness and what value would disqualify one from teaching. Do we have similar measures in place to prevent teachers from being too conservative?

    btw, I am one of those atheist Texans.

  11. #11 Sgt. Obvious
    February 5, 2009

    I have an important question: Was this a public school, or private school? If it was private, he’s hosed, but a public school doing this would likely be in violation of federal law. The ACLU couldn’t bring a case directly (as he isn’t a member, their case would be dismissed for lack of personally suffered injury), but if he contacted them, they might be willing to supply lawyers and funds to challenge this.

  12. #12 Sioux Laris
    February 5, 2009

    I’m a bit sleepy, but I can’t find whether this is a (typically fucked) private school or a public one.
    ???If public, why is there no mention of a teachers’ union action (even in Texas there is one) against this transparently illegal dismissal.

    Also, is it still the case that towns in the South are like Hollywood movies of the 50s and 60s used to portray them – as insulated, class-ridden, hives dominated by a few leading figures, all of whose lives can be revealed to be filled with hypocrisy of the highest, emptiest-of-happiness sort?
    A depressing thought, indeed.
    ??

  13. #13 Crystal D.
    February 5, 2009

    And this happened in what year, now? Ohhhh… (confused silence)

    You know, it kinda reminds me, we re-watched “To Kill a Mockingbird” the other night, because it’s a nice movie. By the end of it though, I couldn’t believe how it seemed like it might’ve happened yesterday somewhere in the deep south…

  14. #14 Bo
    February 5, 2009

    I would think that a good lawyer and wrongful dismissal lawsuit (containing a substantive dollar amount) might encourage school administrators to consider the consequences of such dubious actions.

  15. #15 Holbach
    February 5, 2009

    We will never get rid of religion and its insidious actions. It will forever be a thorn in the side of reason, and as long as the deranged are in position of enacting their insanities on rational people, the mad rabble will rule uncontested. Is a separate atheist society the only way to be rid of this deleterious religious madness? Is Texas a vanguard for the madness to take hold in less perncious states. And one wonders why I detest religion with a passion.

  16. #16 Patricia, OM
    February 5, 2009

    Second Wowbagger. Let the shitstorm begin.

  17. #17 Merkin Muffley
    February 5, 2009

    Why I can proudly say I am from Texas.

    As in a long way from Texas.

  18. #18 MikeySize
    February 5, 2009

    “If public, why is there no mention of a teachers’ union action (even in Texas there is one) against this transparently illegal dismissal.”

    Teacher unions are illegal in Texas. We have several “support organizations”, but we do not have a union.

  19. #19 jimmiraybob
    February 5, 2009

    I have received numerous calls today from area parents, and concerned local residents who feel that Mr. Mullens is a good teacher, who has encouraged and inspired his students to think critically, and independently

    I guess the problems been identified. I hope he gets the local support he deserves. For both his and his student’s, the sane ones, sake.

  20. #20 John Sherman
    February 5, 2009

    You’ll note that all the way up to his actually being fired, the accusations were being too liberal and being an atheist. When it came down to stating an official reason, it was “inappropriate contact with students and comments.” This makes him look like, at best, a dirty old man. If you get fired for being an atheist (or a suspected atheist), then you’ve got lots of recourse. The ACLU, the teacher’s union, public opinion, to name a few. But when they imply that you are a molester, then you have less recourse and more dire consequences (as there are plenty of people who would hire an atheist, but not a child molester).

  21. #21 Jello
    February 5, 2009

    According to the full article this incident is happening in Brookeland Texas, a town north of Jasper and not far from the Louisiana border. In other words, smack in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. Just the place for breeding religious fanaticism and stupidity.

  22. #22 Porco Dio
    February 5, 2009

    hurrah!!!

    I’m not sure what for, but hurrah nonetheless.

    Can we see a copy of his letter? i would like to print excerpts of it on toilet paper.

  23. #23 Voltaire
    February 5, 2009

    This is lovely. I’m an atheist and I hope to be a science teacher within a few years. Better avoid Texas.

  24. #24 Sgt. Obvious
    February 5, 2009

    John Sherman (#20) makes a good point. Please tell me these guys were dumb enough to have transcripts of these board meetings. If not, it’s his word against theirs, and that won’t end well.

  25. #25 ckerst
    February 5, 2009

    Enjoy the settlement, it should be huge.

  26. #26 John Bode
    February 5, 2009

    East Texas. Figures.

    Although, we atheists are constitutionally barred from holding state office, so I can’t act too surprised.

  27. #27 Steve
    February 5, 2009

    Anyone find contact info for the Brookeland School Board?

  28. #28 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    Unbelievable. So unbelievable I have to admit I’d like to see independent confirmations of this. (Not doubting PZ, it’s the old “extra-ordinary claims require..” thing.)

    From further down in the letter:

    who informed me that the principal had met with the minister of the local church and had discussed my suspension with him. I also later received information from REDACTED,a “SCHOOL EMPLOYEE-POSITION REDACTED”, that the minister was now subbing at the school and that he had heard that he would be taking my position, or if I returned he would be co-teaching with me.

    Wouldn’t this be a huge conflict of interest? Advising someone to remove an employee, then placing yourself in their position…

  29. #29 kryth69
    February 5, 2009

    Is there an email or snail mail address that we can raise hell to?

  30. #30 Mary Kincade
    February 5, 2009

    A place 16 miles north of Jasper, TX? As in the same Jasper, TX where the African-American James Byrd Jr. was killed in 1998? (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper,_TX#Notable_Events )

    Looks like they’ve found another ignorance outlet.

  31. #31 ollie
    February 5, 2009

    I hate cold weather. Yes, I took a job in Illinois and it is colder than all-get-out here.

    I got my degree at U-Texas, Austin.

    Nevertheless, I willingly put up with the misery of Illinois winters to avoid social climates such as the one that you described.

    Mind you things aren’t perfect here; once I upset a neo-Nazi with something I said on a blog; he had his flunkies distribute fliers in my neighborhood which condemned me.

    But here, my neighbors immediately called the police! That might not have been the case in Texas.

  32. #32 Mark_M
    February 5, 2009

    And people whine like crazy when UTSA’s Atheist Agenda does some controversial stunt like giving people porn in exchange for their bibles…..*facepalm*

    Maybe if they compared what we do to how the christians treat us they’d STFU, but that’s too much to hope for.

  33. #33 Stanton
    February 5, 2009

    This story demonstrates that anyone who claims that atheists constantly persecute poor Christians in this country are pompous liars.

  34. #34 CrypticLife
    February 5, 2009

    Was this a public school, or private school?

    public

  35. #35 BlindRobin
    February 5, 2009

    The part of East Texas where Brookeland is located is as culturally remote from the real world as one can get (imagine the police sirens should play Dueling Banjos to get the atmosphere). People from more than one county over are foreign and unless you are kin to or old friends with somebody from nearby, well watcherstep cause weez wachin you.
    The only way that this teacher could fight this is to have VERY DEEP pockets and be willing to take the case to a federal court.

  36. #36 Vestrati
    February 5, 2009

    Agree, this is a bit unbelievable. I mean, it is Texas and all, but at the same time, wow. I assume this school receives state/federal funding?

    Assuming they are implying he is a molester, and he can show financial loss from this, I would assume he would have legal recourse in addition to being fired for being an atheist/liberal.

  37. #38 Gingerbaker
    February 5, 2009

    The poor man needs to realize three things:

    1) He will never work as a teacher anywhere in that region again, and likely will never find any kind of work there.

    2) He needs a damn good lawyer who is not only not local, but likely not even from any rural region of Texas at all.

    3) He needs to sue whomever is responsible for a hell of a lot of money – he is going to need it. His professional credentials, his reputation, and his mental well being are going to be decimated from this. He is going to have to sell his home in a terrible market and move a long ways away. Starting over at age 50+ is a difficult thing, and the religious fascists should pay dearly for his miseries.

    That the local minister is participating in this whole affair as a hostile agent makes me wonder if he can be charged in a conspiracy to deprive the civil rights of the plaintiff. Lovely deep pockets has many a church.

  38. #39 WRMartin
    February 5, 2009

    Sioux Laris @12:

    Also, is it still the case that towns in the South are like Hollywood movies of the 50s and 60s used to portray them – as insulated, class-ridden, hives dominated by a few leading figures, all of whose lives can be revealed to be filled with hypocrisy of the highest, emptiest-of-happiness sort?

    That was probably a rhetorical question but here goes anyway–
    Yes, to a large extent they are. Larger communities are more diverse but the smaller the town the more insulated and the paler the resident. Many small-town folk have never left their immediate area. Some cringe at the thought of travelling to the next county. If that next county contains a large city with less pale folk then the higher the level of cringe. Some will physically begin to shake and stammer and turn red about the face and neck. If it wasn’t so blatantly racist and moronic it would be a farce.
    I so wish I had a video of my ex-MIL commenting negatively about the darker-skinned residents on the sidewalk during her drive to church one morning. It would make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end then you’d cry and then let out a pitiful little laugh.
    In more than one way the situation is really hopeless and all we can honestly hope for is for the small-minded and the racists of all types to die off and be replaced by more rational offspring.
    But even large communities aren’t immune. Oh they’ll talk the talk but then they’ll fight against public transportation in their community. Then there are the ‘enclave’ housing developments all walled in like the zombies are coming to take away their precious over-priced baubles. You’d think the well-to-do imagine they’ve been teleported to Somalia and need automatic weapons and an alarm and a gated community to feel safe. But then with the alarming uptick in the number of rapists and zombies popping up out of the ditches I guess they do have a point.
    Just for giggles you can sneak up behind some small town folk and scream “Boo!” and they’ll have a heart attack on the spot.

  39. #40 Charles Wade
    February 5, 2009

    More details about this story and student reactions is available at http://democracyforamerica.com/blog_posts/27752-texas-teacher-suspended-for-being-liberal-and-an-atheist

  40. #41 Crudely Wrott
    February 5, 2009

    This. Must. Be. Challenged.

    No sense in sputtering and fuming about it. Write letters to the TBOE, to the school involved, to any and all Texas legislators and judges demanding that the actions of this pimple-on-the-ass-of-the-bible-belt school be declared in violation of law! It’s the damned twenty-first century in a land that (used to) be free for people of all faiths and of no faith at all!!

    I’m spittin, hitin, shiten mad. MAD!

    And letters of support and kindness to Richard Mullens are also in order and would be gratefully received, I’m sure.

    Oh, the (in)humanity!

  41. #42 Yossarian
    February 5, 2009

    @31

    I hate Illinois Nazis!

  42. #43 Zephyr
    February 5, 2009

    WTH is wrong with people?

  43. #44 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    There is a little information on the school here: http://www.localschooldirectory.com/public-school/80061/TX

  44. #45 Kate
    February 5, 2009

    I usually try to keep my language clean here, but I really have to say this:

    Un-fucking-believable! Those fucking religious assholes in Texas have lost their damned minds. The sheer ignorance… the unbounded stupidity… the sickening, screechy, deluded, pants-pissingly stupid fear mongering.

    Religion is a poison. It warps and twists people into nasty, lying, disgusting caricatures of their idea of Satan.

    Blech.

  45. #46 Bacopa
    February 5, 2009

    Read the link. Apparently the school board had a “hit-list” drawn up well in advance of the student complaint. I’m sure the student and her mother were put up to this.

  46. #47 Longtime Lurker
    February 5, 2009

    But then with the alarming uptick in the number of rapists and zombies popping up out of the ditches I guess they do have a point.

    Ahh… so that’s what this was all about.

    I took two cross-country road trips in ’93 and had a great time, but now I am content sitting here in my safe northeastern home.

  47. #48 Charles Wade
    February 5, 2009

    I am a science teacher in a public high school and I do like to think people would support me if anything were to happen, so reading the many comments of support for him made me actually cry, http://westtennessee.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-really-really-need-your-help.html

  48. #49 Tualha
    February 5, 2009

    Um, not that I think this is ok, but he doesn’t seem to actually have been fired yet. He’s on administrative leave. With pay.

    Whether that’s actionable, I don’t know. Maybe he has grounds for a slander/libel/defamation suit.

    But in any case, I do see some kind of shitstorm on the horizon.

  49. #50 RamblinDude
    February 5, 2009

    He should count himself lucky. If the parents had accused him of being a witch, he might have been hanged by now.

    Oh, there’s still time. You just know they want to accuse him of being a witch. To these people there’s no such thing as an atheist, just people who reject god and follow the devil.

    Let the shitstorm begin.

    Agreed. Shine a big bright light on these people for the whole world to see.

  50. #51 Crudely Wrott
    February 5, 2009

    You can “rate” Brookeland High on the page that Heraclides provides in comment 44. Zero to five apples. Guess how many they got from me? Well, I did leave half a worm, which is the worst thing to find in an apple you have just bitten.

  51. #52 TheEngima32
    February 5, 2009

    This sickens me. I’d like to know several things first though – if it was a private or public school (it sounds public to me, but I don’t have the facts to back it up so I won’t make the claim), and where the union is at. If it was public, he must have been a member of the NEA or some other Teacher’s Union. I’m not sure if Texas has a Teacher’s Union or not, but we have a nation-wide one, and he can get together with the Union to challenge the suspension – that’s what Unions are for. Finally – if the liberal media is *so* liberal – why aren’t they tarring and feathering these clowns? C’mon CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC – where are you?

    As for what I’d do in this case? I’d get as much media attention as I could, invoke the doctrine of “Academic Freedom” the Fundies so desire to push, pony up with the Union and the ACLU and go to court. I’m not an atheist, but it shouldn’t matter. This is abhorrent behavior, and is a disgrace to our nation. But then, can we really expect anything better from Texas school system?

    Enigma

  52. #53 Burt Humburg
    February 5, 2009

    You gotta be freaking kidding me.

    If the report is true, anytime the right-wing press releases goes out about how PZ’S KILLING CHRIST, OHNOES!!!, your response is this report. No explanation needed. Just give the URL of the permalink to this story and write QED.

    What utter, unadulterated bigotry. I agree with the last commenter: shine the light brightly here. This may be the atheist’s Kitzmiller v. DASB case, if one is needed.

    BCH

  53. #54 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    @38:

    re: His professional credentials, his reputation, and his mental well being are going to be decimated from this.

    I think in some ways his credentials might go up in some people’s eyes. He was clearly a good enough teacher that the conservative board couldn’t just work around it. The lead-in in the article claims that 100 out of 130 student petitioned in support for him. Pretty good showing, I’d say.

    I’ve seen another report say that he has resigned. No idea if that’s true (media do mangle things sometimes…)

  54. #55 Hank Fox
    February 5, 2009

    One can only hope he sues the hell out of the lot of them.

  55. #56 Quotidian Torture
    February 5, 2009

    Ignorant, bigoted, religion drenched motherfuckers. Sometimes I hate my state.

  56. #57 Somero
    February 5, 2009

    So, is he really an atheist?

  57. #58 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    @53:

    See post 18: “Teacher unions are illegal in Texas. We have several “support organizations”, but we do not have a union.”

    Wouldn’t mind knowing why TUs are illegal there, too.

  58. #59 Zachary Moore
    February 5, 2009

    It’s tough, but it’s getting better.

  59. #60 Charles Wade
    February 5, 2009

    True, I have no real information that the following two quotes are true. I think they are correct based on everything I could find. The following is from his daughter (she states that he is leaving his old job):
    Hi, i am mr. mullens’ daughter,
    i, mackenzie have had my father as a teacher for about half a year,
    and as a teacher my dad has helped me in so many ways, ive always hated history until my dad taught me, i learned so much in that short period of time, then i have learned from any other teacher,
    now because of all of this stuff, my dad is going to be moving soon, and i a 13 year old girl, is going to have to have her father in a different state, i recently got fed up with my school, stormed out and the next day i was checked out of school, i could not take anymore crap from the turners, and now because of them, i am home schooled.
    i will not be able to play basketball,do one act play, or debate.
    not like i would have wanted to in that enviornment anyway.
    but its a real bummer that i can not get a real high school experience.About two years ago, i did attend that infamous church, and we left because of a problem with a member there, i have been to church camp with the preacher who is making these alligations about my father, and i can say that everyone one who attends that church is a hypocrite.
    Mr.Turner has a few skeletons in his clostet,and all i can say is this backwards ass school is biteing off more then they can chew,
    and justice will be served,
    please help free my dad for misery.

    sincerely,
    Mackenzie Mullens.

    i love you dad, keep your head up.

  60. #61 Colin J
    February 5, 2009

    WTF is wrong with people? Man oh man.

  61. #62 Charles Wade
    February 5, 2009

    And this one is from his son (my apolgies, the source is http://westtennessee.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-really-really-need-your-help.html):

    hi, Im Clint Mullens, Im the son of Richard Mullens, for those who dont know. I am currently attending college now, but I was a student in the Brookeland ISD for 5yrs or so. And I know everything I may say about my fathers situation may sound biased, solely on the fact, well that he’s my father. But one thing my father always instilled in me was open-mindedness, individuality, uniqueness.

    I am leaving this following comment not as the son of Mr. Mullens but as the former student of.

    I was able to have my father as a teacher from my freshman, sophomore and junior year of high school. I would like to state, that from class room to classroom, the student involvement and interactions into the lessons were overwhelmingly superior and greater in my father?s class than in any other. He is a wonderful teacher, he never left anybody behind, which his students TAKS scores can attest to that.
    He was loved by all of his students. (Well as it seems 101 of 103 of them do, seeing from the petition that was passed around by students of Brookeland High. And the 2 that didn?t sign? one is a school board members daughter and the other is the girl who started this whole travesty.)

    My father was and still will be my favorite and the BEST teacher I have ever had the privilege of having.

    Now, about “Mr.Mullens” as a man. Well that?s a whole other story. He may have been a great teacher, but he is an even GREATer person, man. He never looked down on anyone, for ethnicity, nationality or beliefs, and he instilled in me and my siblings that we need not do the same. I could go on for hours about how great Richard Mullens is as a person, teacher and father. one thing I know, is that, I model myself after my father. He, too me and many others, is the ideal “good” person. For this I hope my father is giving the justice that he so greatly deserves!
    I know I speak not only for myself but for my father when I say that all the support and help is SO greatly appreciated!!
    Thank YOU!!

  62. #63 JackC
    February 5, 2009

    I wonder what the Right Honourable Professor Irons is up to about now?

    JC

  63. #64 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    I’d encourage people to read the link in post 48. A number of the comments are very revealing. His daughter has posted there, too.

  64. #65 JD
    February 5, 2009

    If Dahmer was a Darwinist this means Leatherface O’ Texas was a neo-atheist/ militant secularist/ neo-rationalist. It is all coming together with utmost clarity and my stupid goggles can see clearly now the brain is gone.

  65. #66 Susan
    February 5, 2009

    Time to recall the School Board. I’d contribute to that campaign.

  66. #67 Ryan Cunningham
    February 5, 2009

    How exactly does one “teach” atheism? You can teach someone that particular beliefs are wrong, but atheism itself is not a positive assertion. It’s a disbelief in a certain general claim. Beyond that, there’s nothing more to it. You couldn’t really say someone was teaching a-unicornism, a-luckism, , a-patriotism, or a-Communism.

    I’m not trying to be pedantic. Their phrasing just points to a fundamental misunderstanding of what “atheism” means and a lack of perspective about their own views. They seem to see “True American Conservative Christianity” as one position and atheism as its exclusive opposite position.

  67. #68 littlejohn
    February 5, 2009

    As soon as a lawyer informs the school board they can’t actually fire him for being an atheist or liberal, I guarantee they will dredge up some girl to claim he fondled her.

    I’ve been through this sort of thing myself. I eventually won, but it wasn’t worth it.

    He should just move someplace where people don’t drag their knuckles.

  68. #69 jackdaw
    February 5, 2009

    Basically it is not safe to teach anymore. A teacher that allows students some amount of free expression or actually teaches science is in danger of being fired either by principals that have never taught and are scared to death of the board of ed or by principals that have some political motivation and don’t want to hurt their chances at public office.

    I recommend to most people that teaching secondary school is by no means worth it for the amount of money it costs to achieve the degree and training in return for the difficulties of that profession. 8 years of Bush didn’t help matters either.

    What is trully lacking is any amount of administrative support for teachers. If this guy was unionized then he should fight the hell out of this but not all teachers are.

    This goes far beyond that fact that he might be an athiest or not. I would like to know what the class discussion was that caused such an uproar.

  69. #70 ndt
    February 5, 2009

    In the full article, he said he corrected some errors of fact that students brought up – Obama not being an American citizen being one of them. To some people, there are no objective facts, just stories and sides. So when the teacher thought he was correcting a factual error, I bet some parents thought he was taking the liberal “side”.

  70. #71 Heraclides
    February 5, 2009

    @54: If it is actually 101 out of 103 as his son claims (it could be a left-right typo, 130->103 after all), it would make you wonder who the “missing” two are…

  71. #72 Paco
    February 5, 2009

    Texas is a big place, and this is not a problem everywhere — for example, not at any school I’ve attended (near Fort Worth) or had my kids at (central Houston).

    Which isn’t to say we don’t need help ending this discriminatory idiocy.

    #21 and #30 mention the murder of James Byrd, Jr., in Jasper, Texas. As terrible as that was, it’s caused more awareness of the problems with racism there, and Byrd’s family has been active in seeking reconciliation and opposing the death penalty.

    So remember — don’t write off all of Texas. If it was just the haters, who cares? But there are plenty of reasonable and loving people who live here and are trying to survive and make it better. (And seriously, I have it easy, need to do more myself.)

    Let’s hope that this ugly incident helps the community face down the hatred and, like the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, replace their school board with people focused on education.

  72. #73 Cthulhu's minion
    February 5, 2009

    @39 The comments about small southern towns are dead on the money. A few years back I dated a girl from a very small town in Alabama and her parents warned her about the dangers of the “big city” where I lived (pop. around 38000 at the time).

    Once in a night course at the local community college, the teacher had an impromptu survey about religious beliefs (basically he called off a christian denomination and we were supposed to hold up our hands).

    Eventually it was just me left and as things he had said made it clear anyone answering atheist would fail, I said I was agnostic. The woman sitting in front of me turned around and asked “What version of the bible do yall use?”

  73. #74 Mobius
    February 5, 2009

    I hope this guy sues, and I hope he wins.

    Q: What separates Oklahoma from a complete state of ignorance?

    A: The Red River

    Though, sadly, Oklahoma isn’t much better. Oklahoma is the buckle on the Bible belt, after all. I do my little part to try and change that, but it is pretty much a hopeless task.

  74. #75 Jadehawk
    February 5, 2009

    bloody hell, it the story is even half true, the guy is fucked.

    I’m starting to think that all intelligent and educated people should just move out of Texas et al. and leave those idiots to rot in their ignorance. I mean, seriously, what exactly can the guy do about this? Nothing, because no court on any level below state (or even federal, maybe)is going to help him, and I very much doubt he can afford such a long legal battle. And on the other hand, an awesome teacher is being wasted on people who clearly don’t want him.

    I just feel sorry for all those students who weren’t 100% brainwashed and actually benefited from him teaching there.

  75. #76 Steve_C
    February 5, 2009

    Something tells em the ACLU would be interested in this case.

  76. #77 Slaughter
    February 5, 2009

    @ MikeySize:
    “We’ll get you next, Dearie, and your little dog, too!”

  77. #78 Alyson Miers
    February 5, 2009

    I’d really like to know just what they were saying in his class.

    That said, whatever the resolution of this, he should probably move and find a new job when this is over. Because even if he wins this case, he’ll still have to deal with these assholes later.

  78. #79 Liz Ditz
    February 5, 2009

    Brookeline ISD is in District 8 of the Texas State Board of Education.

    District 8 – The Woodlands
    Barbara Cargill (R)

    61 W. Wedgemere Circle
    The Woodlands, TX 77381
    281 465-8095
    sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

    =====
    Brookeland is represented in the Texas Senate by:

    Senate District 3–Senator Robert Nichols
    Capitol Office: EXT E1.708
    Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0103
    Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
    Austin, TX 78711
    District Address: 329 Neches Street
    Jacksonville TX 75766
    Phone: (903) 589-3003
    State District Offices

    ====

    Brookeland is represented in the Texas congress by:

    Texas State Representative
    House District 9–Representative Wayne Christian
    Capitol Office: CAP GN.12
    Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0556
    Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
    Austin, TX 78768
    District Address: 204 Houston
    Center TX 75935
    Phone: (936) 598-9966

    ======
    Brookeland and Jasper county may have one of two US Congressional representatives

    Texas U.S. Representatives
    Congressional District 8–Congressman Kevin Brady
    District Address: 301 CANNON HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
    WASHINGTON DC 20515
    Phone: (202) 225-4901
    District Offices

    200 River Pointe Dr., Suite 304
    Conroe, TX 77304
    Phone: (936) 441-5700

    1202 Sam Houston Avenue, Suite 8
    Huntsville, TX 77340
    Phone: (936) 439-9542

    420 Green Ave
    Orange, TX 77630
    Phone: (409) 883-4197

    Congressional District 1–Congressman Louie Gohmert
    District Address: 510 CANNON HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
    WASHINGTON DC 20515
    Phone: (202) 225-3035

  79. #80 frog
    February 5, 2009

    Yup, no union, no justice. What else you going to expect? You live on the good graces of the local power brokers because you have no organization to fight back.

  80. #81 Longtime Lurker
    February 5, 2009

    It’s appalling the degree to which these churchly types can run their communities like fiefdoms. This churchly “shunning” can be devastating in these one horse (or one church) towns. Even if Mr Mullens is fully reinstated, who knows what hassles he’ll be subjected to?

    But of course, these small-town types are the “real Americans”. Sarah Palin told me so.

  81. #82 Theodore
    February 5, 2009

    How does one “teach atheism”? Have students stare at a blank chalkboard?

  82. #83 Benjamin Geiger
    February 5, 2009

    Theodore:

    Didn’t you hear? A while ago, there were riots in Europe.

    Apparently, a cartoonist left twelve blank sheets of paper on his desk, and the atheists went berserk!

  83. #84 Alverant
    February 5, 2009

    I have to wonder how much of what he said can be proved in court. The accusation of touching a student is going to haunt him forever. Saying, “They really fired me because they thought I was an Atheist.” isn’t going to help either.

    When they say he was “teaching Atheism” what they probably mean is “not teaching christianity” considering who his replacement was. The fact they did a “bait and switch” and accused him of something else means they know what they did was wrong. “Thou shall not bear false witness” indeed.

  84. #85 Bobber
    February 5, 2009

    RE: Jackdaw at #69:

    Unfortunately, you are right. I had a desire to teach for years, finally got around to doing it several years ago, when I moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts, and found that the administration was made up of weak-willed individuals whose only goal was to avoid making waves. In my final year, more than half a dozen teachers left my school in December – some took jobs elsewhere, some had NO job; they just had to leave.

    It didn’t help that it came to be known that I was an atheist myself. I taught in a school district where several staff meetings opened with a prayer. I was occasionally approached by teachers who wanted to know what an atheist even *is* – they had never met one before. One even thought I worshipped Satan. My group leader was a member of a fundamentalist church and, I found out later, was going behind my back to the administration and basically telling my principal that I was a bad teacher. This, after being nominated for a district award for excellence the year before, when I worked in a different school. And all of this, while earning povery-level wages.

    I would still love to teach. But if I have my druthers, I will never teach in North Carolina again.

    I sympathize with this teacher in Texas. This kind of thing is more common than many might realize, if my experience is any indication.

  85. #86 Theo
    February 5, 2009

    Insipidity is grounds for junking. I checked. Im still not sure I can KNOW for sure though.

  86. #87 Theo
    February 5, 2009

    oops, that comment went in the wrong thread, sorry.

  87. #88 Wowbagger
    February 5, 2009

    No wonder schools everywhere are struggling to find good, qualified, enthusiastic, capable teachers. What’s the incentive for them? Too many hours, too little pay, ridiculously large classes, no respect, and school boards dominated by(or, at least, dotted with) antiscience woo-addled idiots who would stoop to lying about ‘inappropriate conduct’ to get rid of someone who didn’t kneel to the same stupid sky-fairy as they do.

    Maybe massive increases in the funding for Christian homeschoolers is an option – just so the kids who do go to school get a chance of an education (and a future) without these Jesus-fueled mutants fucking with their teachers and curricula.

  88. #89 NickK
    February 5, 2009

    What? Nazis in Illinois??

    I hate Illinois Nazis!!

    Hat tip to Yossarian! for the memory.

  89. #90 Danio
    February 5, 2009

    The accusation of touching a student is going to haunt him forever.

    Whoa. All of my knowledge at this point comes from the link in PZ’s post and from the link provided by Charles Wade in comment #48, but nowhere has a charge of ‘touching a student’ been mentioned. The ‘inappropriate contact’ mentioned in Mr. Mullens’ letter seems to refer to some text messages he received from students during the first week of his suspension.

    That said, if (big if) any of the testimonials in the comments on the WestTennessee site are to be believed, the student who started this whole drama probably wouldn’t lose any sleep over throwing in some false allegations of molestation on top of the original claims of *shudder* ‘liberalism’.

  90. #91 smittypap
    February 5, 2009

    @84: The improper contact with students refers to exchanging text messages with them while on suspension.

    @42: We’re getting the band back together.

  91. #92 Fernando Magyar
    February 5, 2009

    Ahem, I’d like a show of hands please, from all those present who do believe in invisible pink unicorns. Thank you.

    Now could one of you please come up with a plausible lesson plan and strategy as to how one might teach someone to disbelieve in invisible pink unicorns.

    Ah, Mrs. Lowe, forgive me for being somewhat skeptical about the premise, that if we tell those who do believe in invisible pink unicorns, that they will spend eternity in boiling hot unicorn excrement, unless they immediately cease believing in invisible pink unicorns.

    Ohhhh, I see your point…

  92. #93 Martin
    February 5, 2009

    I’m going to be a history teacher in Norway in a few years, and I just thank god (hah) that this would never, ever happen here. It’d be a massive scandal. Actually, it wouldn’t be, because I simply can’t see it happening in the first place.

    Even as conservative and religious I know some places in America are (Texas in particular, perhaps), I find it almost unbelievable to accept that this could happen even there. How is this not a massive scandal? Or is it?

  93. #94 Michael J
    February 5, 2009

    It is a sad thing about the teacher, but look at the kids, 100 out of 103 refused to sign the statement. Isn’t that great, so the next generation in this little backward conservative town might not just be so conservative.

  94. #95 Mother Batherick
    February 5, 2009

    @ 79
    Hey Liz, here’s another address for your list:

    P.O. Box 8, Brookeland, TX 75931
    (409) 698-2677
    FAX (409) 698-2533
    Superintendent: Dr. John R. Lynch

    These bigots make me ashamed to be a Texan. Give ‘em hell.

  95. #96 Brownian
    February 5, 2009

    As a Canadian and an Albertan, I’m fully authorized to let them take Alberta with them.

    Aw, but us Edmontonians finally got rid of all that stupid ice.

    How about they can just have everything south of Red Deer?

  96. #97 Theo
    February 5, 2009

    I teach high school, and it is true that you do have to be careful about how and when you contact students. We can not let students have our personal email; only the school address can be given to students. The same goes for cell phones. We can’t have students’ numbers, or give them ours. In a small town where a popular teacher’s children go to school with the rest of the students, finding a teacher’s number to text a message of support would seem like an easy and harmless thing to do. No one would suspect that receiving a text message could get you fired, but it is within the realm of possibility. I hesitate to let students even know my first name lest I should have something to answer for should one of them try to contact me on facebook or look me up in the phone book.

  97. #98 James F
    February 5, 2009

    #79

    Brookeline ISD is in District 8 of the Texas State Board of Education.

    District 8 – The Woodlands

    Barbara Cargill (R)

    That’s not promising. Cargill was the one who managed to get some last-minute antievolution amendments inserted into the Texas science standards.

  98. #99 raven
    February 5, 2009

    Haven’t read the comments yet. This is outrageous.

    Guy ought to sue their asses. Hysteria, the teacher is a witch, someone saw him tearing the head off a live rabbit in front of an altar to satan, he doesn’t show up in mirrors, or cast shadows. KILL HIM!!! STONE HIM!!!

    I’ve always said the fundies want to go back to the Dark Ages. These Texas clowns are almost there.

    FWIW, it is not illegal to be an atheist. It is illegal to fire someone for being an atheist, religious discrimination.

    Glad not to be living in Texas.

  99. #100 toomanytribbles
    February 5, 2009

    the thing is, who is going to defend the constitution in this medieval little community?

  100. #101 Jesse Bentley
    February 5, 2009

    I’m from Mr.Mullens class and I think that the contact with a student that they are talking about is a student texting him while he was on suspention. According to the principal, he is not supposed to have any contact with any student. Thorrocco…….AKA Jesse Bentley 409-698-9792

  101. #102 raven
    February 5, 2009

    mikeysize:

    I am an atheist science teacher in Texas, and this is the most terrifying story I’ve read. Ever.

    Don’t blame you. How good are you at dodging barrages of rocks thrown by enraged mobs? How about evading groups of peasants with pitchforks and torches? Are you fire proof?

    It is too late for you to join the local fundie snake handler cult for camoflague. You see, the crime isn’t being an atheist, it is being accused of being a suspected atheist.

    The real crime in these communities of deranged cultists is being smart and educated.

  102. #103 Douglas
    February 5, 2009

    Update!

    This is pretty infuriating.

  103. #104 chuckgoecke
    February 5, 2009

    I am a Parent in Texas, and am appalled. I could not find any emails, maybe they don’t have them yet over there, but they do appear to have FAX technology. I faxed the Super and Principal this:

    To: Dr. John Lynch, Brookeland, TX ISD
    Fax (409)698-2533

    (Also To: Richard Turner, Brookeland, TX ISD
    Fax (409)698-2891 )

    FM: Charles Goecke
    xxxxxxxxxxx Dr.
    xxxxxx TX 75xxx
    xxx-xxx-xxxx
    Subject: Firing of Richard Mullens, Teacher, Brookeland ISD

    Dear Sir:
    I has come to my attention that Mr. Mullens was wrongly terminated at your school, due to his religious and political beliefs. This was the real reason, however a false actual reason was put up as the reason. I ask you did a proper, unbiased investigation of his supposed infractions take place? Improperly termination of someone could have grave consequences to your whole district in terms of legal costs as well as negative publicity.

    I am a parent in xxxx ISD and although I do not have a direct interest in this, as a Texas parent, I am appalled that the situation could exist in my state. Please work with the Board and reconsider this action.

    Sincerely,

    Charles Goecke

    Contact info:

    http://brookelandisd.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=22

    Web Fax options:
    http://fax.1888usa.com/

  104. #105 Douglas
    February 5, 2009

    So that link didn’t work before, apparently scienceblogs is NOT html friendly.

    http://westtennessee.blogspot.com/2009/02/richard-mullens-update.html

  105. #106 Steven Dunlap
    February 5, 2009

    Someone early on already mentioned that if they did not keep minutes of the board meetings then the teacher faces a “his word against theirs” situation. When I read that Mullens and the complaint was not listed on the agenda my spidey senses screamed “set up.” Even if they took minutes, often the public comments do not appear in the minutes. This is the way one perpetrates a deliberate and premeditated ambush. No evidence, and not by accident.

    The only way he could have protected himself was to bring a camera to the board meeting (assuming the board would have allowed it).

  106. #107 Che
    February 5, 2009

    PZ, when something important like this comes up you need to post a digg link so we can bring it to the attention of the entire internet community.

    http://digg.com/world_news/Texas_Teacher_Suspended_for_being_a_Liberal_and_an_Atheist

  107. #108 Alligator
    February 5, 2009

    John Bode @ #26

    we atheists are constitutionally barred from holding state office

    Is this a flip comment on the ideology and culture in Texas, or is there something absurd in the Texas constitution that I haven’t heard about?

  108. #109 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 5, 2009

    Texas perplexes, and otherwise vexes
    The godless among us, and others with brains;
    Hired, then fired, the Christians conspired
    To exorcise reason from East Texas plains.

  109. #110 James F
    February 5, 2009

    Alligator #108

    Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4:

    RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

  110. #112 raven
    February 5, 2009

    Brookeline Texas reminds me of where my relatives lived (past tense), in the midwest.

    The town was rural and isolated and the people insular. Not bad people at all, just culturally inbred.

    The kids kept leaving for job and other oportunities. And to escape the dead end stulifying monoculture. After a few decades, half the people are gone, a lot of buildings and houses are vacant, and the average age is 60. The main job of the city council is condemming vacant houses and tearing them down to keep the place from looking like a ghost town.

    This is happening all over the midwest. It even has a name, Rural Flight. Don’t know anything about Brookeline but it looks like yet another great place to get the hell away from.

  111. #113 ppnl
    February 5, 2009

    I grew up in a small town in east Texas. Population of Pittsburg was about 6 or 7 thousand and it was the county seat. I cannot imagine this happening there. Back in the 70s we had a gay high school history teacher for example.

  112. #114 Sherry
    February 5, 2009

    Reminds me of Nicole Smalkowski, a HS student and basketball player in small town Oklahoma. Her family is ostracized.

  113. #115 dogmeatib
    February 5, 2009

    To my knowledge, Texas isn’t my state, but I’d be surprised if it were significantly different there, a school board, as a publicly elected body, must maintain minutes that are available for public inspection and subject to subpoena. They can’t meet in a secret session, take acts like the suspension or firing of an employee, without public knowledge and review.

    In the event that he were fired, he would have legal recourse similar to the Freshwater case in Ohio. I looked it up, their laws are a mess, laws actually referring to “colored teachers” are still on the books, looks like article 2749 would give him the right to appeal to the county and state superintendent:

    http://www.sll.state.tx.us/codes/1925/1925civ13.pdf

  114. #116 samuel black
    February 5, 2009

    Expelled! No intelligence allowed.

  115. #117 Ktesibios
    February 5, 2009

    I wonder- is this an Alaska-envy thing?

    After al, since 1959 Texas has had to put up with being only the second-largest state (land area) in the union. Since the recent election provided strong evidence that Alaska was bidding fair to outdo them in proud deliberate ignorance, perhaps some Texans have been galvanized into defending their state’s remaining distinction.

  116. #118 SteveM
    February 5, 2009

    I’m almost certain that firing someone because of their religious beliefs is illegal even in Texas.

    But how can he be fired for his religious beliefs if he doesn’t have any? You know, like how the 1st amendment gives freedom of religion not freedom from religion.

    </sarcasm>

  117. #119 Chris A.
    February 5, 2009

    Why do school districts keep doing this?

    Might as well write the check to the aclu already.

  118. #120 Fred
    February 5, 2009

    Hell, atheist teachers in Texas, you guys are not alone. At my high school (in a small town in Tennessee), we had a Ph.D-holding Chemistry teacher fired because some of her students formed a “ACLU” group and successfully removed the school-sponsored prayer from graduation. This teacher happened to be an active Methodist with the local church…

    Even suspected atheists aren’t safe. If you’re associated with any idea that’s developed in the past century, you’d better watch out.

  119. #121 Fred
    February 5, 2009

    Oh and by the way I know from that incident that there is a legal recourse, namely the Civil Rights Act of 1984. They’re called ’84 suits.

  120. #122 Summer Seale
    February 5, 2009

    Wow,

    I’m just absolutely stunned.

    First of all, it’s illegal. But it doesn’t appear that many small town community schools even understand the meaning of the word “Constitution” and “illegal” when it comes to this sort of thing. It appears that every single case of religious bigotry that happens comes from small town schools where they, somehow, think they are above the law or are allowed to do this.

    Second of all, I’m going to write to this school and tell them what I think.

    Third of all, I didn’t support Barak Obama for President and I’m fairly conservative on some issues (such as the war, etc…), but I would never have conceived of doing this to anyone – liberal or otherwise. I also corrected many conservative stupid “talking points” about Obama which were myths and lies (about his birth certificate etc..) and I know exactly the kind of mindset that these idiots at the school appear to have displayed. They’re total fucking lunatics and my guess is that almost all of them are creationists.

    This is total insanity and it pisses me off. As an Atheist, to hear that people are singled out as “Atheists” as if it were a slur really angers me. They can go to fucking hell for even thinking that we don’t have equal rights.

  121. #123 Jadehawk
    February 5, 2009

    I teach high school, and it is true that you do have to be careful about how and when you contact students. We can not let students have our personal email; only the school address can be given to students. The same goes for cell phones. We can’t have students’ numbers, or give them ours. In a small town where a popular teacher’s children go to school with the rest of the students, finding a teacher’s number to text a message of support would seem like an easy and harmless thing to do. No one would suspect that receiving a text message could get you fired, but it is within the realm of possibility. I hesitate to let students even know my first name lest I should have something to answer for should one of them try to contact me on facebook or look me up in the phone book.

    seriously? why? are they afraid of extremely litigious parents, or what?

    we didn’t have this problem In my High-School (Germany)… I mean, we even got drunk on a few occasions with our High-School teachers…

  122. #124 Jadehawk
    February 5, 2009

    on reading the article linked in #111, it seems this is all about sex again. apparently the reason that student run out of class was because there was a discussion about love/sex going on. the parents then continued to bitch about letting students discuss inappropriate stuff.

    OH NOEZ, TEH KIDZ IS THINKIN!!!!

    *facepalm*

  123. #125 Jim
    February 5, 2009

    Christianity is only slightly behind Islam in its stupidity.
    Evilbible.com for more info…

  124. #126 Keanus
    February 5, 2009

    He probably has a solid case for suit. That the school tagged him with “inappropriate contact” is irrelevant, other than its being a smoke screen to hide the ISD’s real reason: That he’s an atheist and liberal. According to his note parents complained about him publicly at school board meetings and for those meetings there is a public record. I suspect that just like creationists, these folks can’t hide their bigotry, hate and irrationality. It was only after the board and administration decided to suspend him that the accusation morphed into “inappropriate contact.” Surely there is a long trail of official and unofficial commentary asserting he’s an atheist and liberal. Let the discovery begin!

    And here’s hoping the school district has to pay through the nose. Sadly, those who will be punished will be the students who are already shortchanged by a corrupt school system and board. But you have to start somewhere when dragging these neanderthals into the 20th century (yes, I know we’re in the 21st now, but we have to get these folks out of the 18th century first).

    By the way, Brookeland is a town lost in the piney woods of East Texas, not far from Jasper, Texas, where James Byrd was dragged to death by two of his more enlightened neighbors a decade ago. So don’t expect redemption from these folks anytime soon. Incidentally, I’m an atheist from Texas, but I left after graduating from high school 53 years ago and haven”t looked back, though I still have cousins living there.

  125. #127 Jon H
    February 5, 2009

    @58: “Wouldn’t mind knowing why TUs are illegal there, too.”

    Could lead to dancing.

  126. #128 Sastra
    February 5, 2009

    I really hope, for the teacher’s sake, that this turns into a big story. And I also hope, for our sake, that it doesn’t become another one of those “they accused me of being an atheist and I’m not” defenses.

  127. #129 chgo_liz
    February 5, 2009

    Charles @ #60:

    If that letter is actually real (not convinced, but I digress), then the poor girl is gaining an advantage by leaving that school with her dad. Her syntax, spelling and punctuation are appalling: she would get an F from any decent English teacher. Is that letter really indicative of the level of education there? Sheesh.

  128. #130 Stu
    February 5, 2009

    As a random aside, don’tcha love how selective heddle is getting where he dips his metaphorical wick?

  129. #131 Stu
    February 5, 2009

    she would get an F from any decent English teacher. Is that letter really indicative of the level of education there?

    It is far, far worse than you think. Our child was in public education for four months, and it was sufficiently horrific that I will forgo meals before I ever subject her to that again.

  130. #132 Tex
    February 5, 2009

    I really hope, for the teacher’s sake, that this turns into a big story. And I also hope, for our sake, that it doesn’t become another one of those “they accused me of being an atheist and I’m not” defenses.

    I hope it turns into a big story, too. However, if he is really not be a an atheist, that could be a very effective defense, and perhaps the only honest one (not that honesty really matters to the school board).

    No matter what his defense is, we should all pledge to help fund it. I certainly will.

  131. #133 Theo
    February 5, 2009

    Jadehawk@123

    Part of the reason is lawsuits, and part of it is false charges. The district doesn’t want to open itself up to any potential damages, and we don’t want there to be any evidence, like cell phone records, that could back up claims of impropriety, like drinking with students, even if they are made up.

    It’s sad really. I remember back when I was in high school some mornings when I was walking to school one of my teachers would pull over and offer me a lift. I see my students walking in every morning, and I would never have them alone in my car, even if it means they have to walk a mile in the rain. Such are the times we live in.

  132. #134 BlueIndependent
    February 5, 2009

    Not to get all Godwin, but this certainly sounds to me like parents teaching their kids to seek out enemies of the state by giving them a basic profile, telling them all such people that fit one or all characteristics are bad, and that they should be reported to other authorities. This child’s parents have created themselves a little brownshirt that gets people fired, and possibly blacklisted for doing nothing more than his or her job.

    Ah, religious conservatism at its best. It never fails to corrode decent society.

  133. #135 Craig
    February 5, 2009

    Hey you public education bashers, you are bashing the teacher that is the subject of this post! You’re no better than those hicks. Stu, find a better place to live! Are you not smart enough to help you kid through school, or is your kid a mental case? Go away!

  134. #136 MikeySize
    February 5, 2009

    Need to clarify the Texas teacher’s unions issue.

    “Texas Government Code chapter 617 prohibits collective bargaining by teachers, along with strikes and other organized work stoppages, no matter what you call them. If you organize and plan to have a group of people fail to show up to work, it is prohibited. Unions, per se, are not illegal in Texas. But collective bargaining and strikes are.”

    http://www.texasteacherlaw.com/teacher-groups/

    I belong to the Texas State Teachers Association (one of many associations). If he belongs to one of our associations he should be afforded some kind of legal service, but it would depend on which organization he belongs to.

    Sorry about any misinformation.

  135. #137 shamar
    February 6, 2009

    The teacher has ALL my support. I am an atheist, and a student at Texas A&M University, and I notice it when the professors of the various sciences pick their words EVER SO CAREFULLY to prevent these kinds of trouble. I am so saddened by the primitive ideology fronted by so many in this state :-(

  136. #138 Zeus
    February 6, 2009

    This needs to go mainstream we need to show them who is really persecuted and why it will stop.

  137. #139 Rebelest
    February 6, 2009

    After reading the article from the Beaumont Enterprise that was linked to in comment #111, I wonder if there is any legal recourse for Mr. Mullens now that he has resigned?

  138. #140 jeff
    February 6, 2009

    It makes me sick. It makes me angry. Obviously, because he was not racist and a bible spewing fanatic he was targeted for his job.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if the girl who left his class was coerced into doing such.

    I just hope the god of that community doesn’t get angry at them for letting an atheist be near their children and hit them with a hurricane or something.

  139. #141 Autumn
    February 6, 2009

    I was going to quote the film Aliens with my toungue firmly in cheek, but decided that I don’t want the kind of attention that might draw.

  140. #142 Miguel
    February 6, 2009

    She accused me of being an atheist, saying I was too liberal …

    Her intention was to offend, but instead she highlighted his assets.

  141. #143 Katkinkate
    February 6, 2009

    Posted by: James F @ 110
    “…Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4:
    RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

    So any religion except atheism and possibly Buddism? Depends on how you define ‘Supreme Being’ I suppose.

  142. #144 Rob
    February 6, 2009

    I hope he sues for millions.

  143. #145 Ramases
    February 6, 2009

    As a former teacher, it is this part that I find the most frightening;

    “On January 24th, I received a certified letter from Mr. Turner that stated that the causes for my suspension apparently had been changed to inappropriate contact with students and comments.”

    To falsely be accused of this kind of behavior is any teacher’s absolute worst nightmare.

    This would have the potentional to not only ruin a person’s career, but potentially their life as well.

    Perhaps they knew that even in Texas the “charge” of being an atheist would not hold. But that people would stoop to these kind of accusations for religious or ideologically motivated reasons is as low as it is possible to get.

  144. #146 aratina
    February 6, 2009

    I wonder- is this an Alaska-envy thing?

    After al, since 1959 Texas has had to put up with being only the second-largest state (land area) in the union. Since the recent election provided strong evidence that Alaska was bidding fair to outdo them in proud deliberate ignorance, perhaps some Texans have been galvanized into defending their state’s remaining distinction. – Ktesibios #117

    Most Alaskans do take every chance they get to ridicule Texas, but Palin didn’t seem to get the memo. No really, I don’t see how any state can provide a worse example of proud deliberate ignorance than Texas did with that last schmuck they put in the White House. No state can go lower than that. Not even Palin reaches that depth, and despite her antics, Alaska ranks pretty high for liberal Republicanism in comparison to other Republican controlled states and is one of the least religious states. Texas is not filled with Alaska-envy, and it is not on the defensive; this is its natural position.

  145. #147 Angel Kaida
    February 6, 2009

    #135 Craig,
    Try not to be a classist, condescending fuckhead, okay? Or at least be more careful; your dogmatic ignorance of reality is showing. Most people can’t afford to just pick up their lives and move, especially from places with terrible public education to places where it’s better. Many people also don’t have the time to fill in the holes left by a faulty public education, because they have to work instead.

  146. #148 eric
    February 6, 2009

    No collective bargaining by teachers?

    Are you kidding me?

    Eric

  147. #149 SoMG
    February 6, 2009

    Point your browser here:

    http://www.brookelandisd.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=22

    Money quote:

    /Superintendent
    Dr. John Lynch

    Phone :( 409)698-2677

    Fax: (409)698-2533

    /Secondary Principal
    Richard Turner

    Phone: (409) 698-2413 High Building

    Fax: (409) 698-2891

    Suggested message: Congratulations on making your school into a national laughing stock! Your religion, too.

  148. #150 John C. Randolph
    February 6, 2009

    As much as people enjoy disparaging the legal profession, this is exactly what lawyers are for. It sounds to me like Mullens has a case that would end up getting settled for a hefty sum if they don’t reinstate him.

    -jcr

  149. #151 Marcus Ranum
    February 6, 2009

    Please tell me these guys were dumb enough to have transcripts of these board meetings. If not, it’s his word against theirs, and that won’t end well.

    But they’re good christians. Surely they wouldn’t lie under oath!

  150. #152 Aquaria
    February 6, 2009

    Hey you public education bashers, you are bashing the teacher that is the subject of this post!

    No they’re not. The teacher and the school are entirely different entities. Sorry if your public education was so poor that you can’t grasp such a concept.

    You’re no better than those hicks. Stu, find a better place to live!

    You’re as bad as the “If you’re not a Christian, get out of America” morons. If the schools are bad, that means the schools need to improve, not that he has to move.

    Are you not smart enough to help you kid through school, or is your kid a mental case?

    Ad hominem, and complete bullshit. A smart parent would know if a school or district was a piece of shit, and has the right to act accordingly. Good job accusing his child of being a head case, simply because the parent wants the child to have the best learning environment. That’s why you’re full of shit.

    Go away!

    Shut the fuck up. Really.

  151. #153 Christophe Thill
    February 6, 2009

    “Inappropriate contact with students”? Does it mean what I think it means? Does it mean they’re accusing him of child molesting? That’s absolutely revolting. Can’t the teacher take the school to court for inappropriate firing AND defamation?

  152. #154 JJR
    February 6, 2009

    I also hope the teacher sues them for every penny they’ve got, the small-minded East Texas f*ckwits. But that’s easier said than done. Thanks to earlier posters for the clarifications re: unions here. Texas is what is called a “right to work” state, which is a hideous euphemism that basically means “anti-union”. The state university I work for is an “at will” employer, too, which, I’m told, means they can ostensibly fire me for any reason, and without warning.

    The teacher should strongly consider a move to Austin or Houston where the social climate is more diverse and accepting. My neck of the woods, Denton, Texas is okay…sleepy college town, sort of a quasi-hippie subculture, etc. Not as cool as Austin or Houston, but okay.

    Contrary to popular opinion, not all of Texas is quite as f*cked as the place in the story. “East Texas” says all I need to know, really. Far West Texas can be pretty screwy too. I’m not a native Texan, but I’ve lived here since 1979, and I was born in 1971, so I’ve spent the majority of my life here. There are pockets of enlightenment and culture worth preserving & enjoying here, so I stay.

  153. #155 FlameDuck
    February 6, 2009

    Odd. I didn’t even know there was a Texas in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

  154. #156 clinteas
    February 6, 2009

    raven @ 102,

    The real crime in these communities of deranged cultists is being smart and educated.

    Which is why,if something like this happens in such a remote deeply ignorant area,IMO the best thing to do is just to leave,its not like you could win this in any way,even if you got a court decision your way,you will just always be the castaway,and things could get ugly.
    Take your family to a more reasonable place and leave the cultists to themselves.
    Then sue their asses off,if you can.

    BTW,how is being fired for being an atheist religious discrimination?

  155. #157 raven
    February 6, 2009

    Texas is the state where an evolutionary biologist was beaten up, threatened with death, and eventually harrassed into moving to Michigan. Gwen Pearson’s crime was teaching evolutionary biology at UT, Permian. She also had to deal with false accusations from a student who wasn’t even in her class.

    At the lower levels of religious fundie cultists, there really isn’t any difference between xians and moslems. We just don’t let ours run around with weapons and armies anymore, killing at will. Mullens got off easy, considering what the good cultists of Brookline really wanted to do to him. Nothing like a good stoning every once in a while to remind people who really reigns on the earth. After all, “Who would jesus kill?”

    Excerpts from
    Smiting science

    By Gwen Pearson

    I started my senior-level university evolution class with an introduction to the scientific method, and a brief history of the development of evolutionary theory, including its legal status. About a month into my first semester, I got my first hint that all was not well. I found a photograph of me from the student newspaper taped to my door with horns, blacked out teeth, and a “666″ on my forehead. I took it down; another one was put up the next day. This seemed annoying but harmless.
    and
    This all became a great deal more serious when I began to get messages on my home answering machine threatening to assist me in reaching hell, where I would surely end up. I also received threatening mail messages: “The Bible tells us how to deal with nonbelievers: ‘Bring those who would not have me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ May Christians have the strength to slaughter you and end your pitiful, blasphemous life!”

    An envelope containing student evaluations from my evolution class was tampered with. A student wrote a letter to the president of the university claiming that I said in class that “anyone who believes in God gets an F.” Despite the fact that she had never been in my class, and it was clearly untrue, a full investigation of the charge ensued.

    There were other problems. Often I arrived in class to find “Dr. Feminazi” scrawled on the blackboard. An emotionally disturbed student assaulted me on campus. In town, Maurice Sendak’s award-winning book Where the Wild Things Are was removed from school libraries, as it might “confuse children as to the true nature of Beelzebub.” The California-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) preached in the county stadium to 10,000 local people.
    © 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.

  156. #158 Atheist
    February 6, 2009

    It’s only logical to expect primitive behaviour from those with primitive beliefs.

  157. #159 John C. Randolph
    February 6, 2009

    Texas is what is called a “right to work” state, which is a hideous euphemism that basically means “anti-union”.

    Bullshit.

    Right to work laws mean that there are no closed shops. In a right-to-work state, you can join a union if you want, but nobody can force you to pay dues or require you to join a union to keep your job.

    -jcr

  158. #160 Stu
    February 6, 2009

    What Aquaria said. Sweet Thor on a Thumb Drive, Craig… you’re an incompetent little troll.

  159. #161 Stu
    February 6, 2009

    JCR, you’re behind on the vernacular. Didn’t you get the fax? You’re supposed to call it “pro-employee” instead of “anti-union” now.

    Tool.

  160. #162 Dr Horrible
    February 6, 2009

    @141

    But Autumn, it is the only way to be sure. :)

  161. #163 Logicel
    February 6, 2009

    When recently viewing Charlie Winston’s Like a Hobo video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nOd5_Bdc8I), I thought, no way, a small town in the south of America still could be like that at present! Could a small southern American town being depicted in that video NOT be a stereotype? Fear, loathing, and apathy indeed.

  162. #164 Stephen Wilson
    February 6, 2009

    Just posted to that schools page:

    I am a 32-year Foreign Service Officer looking for a pleasant place to retire to. I had been encouraged to consider Texas but after reading of your disgusting treatment of Mr. Mullens and the medieval ignorance of your school board, you can rest assured I would come no where near your community.

    Stephen Wilson

  163. #165 Liberal Atheist
    February 6, 2009

    MikeySize @18

    How on Earth can unions be illegal? Sounds like something that could be true in some less developed country where workers’ rights are not respected.

  164. #166 Richard Harris
    February 6, 2009

    The Prophets of ancient Israel & Judea thought that the disasters that their nations suffered, at the hands of the Assyrians or Babylonians, were Yahweh?s retribution for the sins committed by some of the people, such as worshipping other gods. These Xians are just maintaining the tradition of thinking that their god will punish them for permitting the deeds of others that they believe offend their god.

    That makes these nutjobs potentially very dangerous, because they want to coerce all of us to prevent Yahweh from smiting them. And who knows just what crazy crap that coercion might entail? It can go a lot further than just keeping potential atheists out of schools. After all, in their bible, it says to kill people, by stoning them, for committing blasphemy (Lev xxiv 11-16).

  165. #167 G. Tingey
    February 6, 2009

    Bacopa @ 46
    AND the “Democracy for America” link …
    If this can be brought to court, and proven, then they are going to be bankrupted – we hope ….

    @ 126
    They aren’t even in the 18th Cent …
    Witch-burnings and drownings stopped (mostly) during the 17th, and this sort of behaviour is, erm, medieaval – you know, like islamic?

    “Contact” with students, various …
    Like when I was at grammar school, England, 1957-64 …
    The staff drank in the Saloon bar of the pub down the road, and the VIth form (17-18 year olds, and some large 16′s), drank in the “Public” (beer 1d or 2d cheaper per pint …)

  166. #168 Knockgoats
    February 6, 2009

    James F.@110,
    That extract from the Texas constitution truly flabberghasted me. Americans, no more complaining about Muslim theocracies until you’ve expelled Texas or force it to remove this clause, OK?

  167. #169 ConcernedJoe
    February 6, 2009

    Any surgeon would never have a problem with:

    The Texas Constitution
    Article 1 – BILL OF RIGHTS
    Section 4 – RELIGIOUS TESTS
    No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

    because they’d honestly answer “of course there is a Supreme Being and it is I”.

    But all jokes aside, the correct answer would be “of course there is and his name is Richard Dawkins”

  168. #170 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    How on Earth can unions be illegal? Sounds like something that could be true in some less developed country where workers’ rights are not respected.

    Wait, did you think the USA was Sweden or something?

  169. #171 versitas_aequitas
    February 6, 2009

    Hi, I?m Clint Mullens, I am the son of Richard Mullens. I understand that my dad?s situation has come to the eye of a widespread amount of people throughout the internet. And I know I?m not only speaking for myself but also for my father, when I say that the help and support is SO greatly appreciated.

    It has also come to my attention that many people are skeptical about my father?s situation, and questioning the legitimacy of his own written statement. And I will do anything I can to clear things up for anybody, being the son of Mr. Mullens, I am up to date with his situation, and if anyone would like to be further informed or updated regularly, I will be glad to do it.
    My email address is:

    cmckinleym@yahoo.com

    I am leaving my number here also, for an easier way of contacting me.

    1-915-345-4491

    I am currently a student in college, so calling and me answering may not always be possible. But if you leave a voicemail, I would be more than glad to return your phone call.

    The following is to clarify some misunderstandings that some people may have about the situation.
    My father was put on administrative leave for a week; the reasons expressed to him by the principal were that my father was ?too liberal? and an ?atheist?. Like stated in my father?s letter, these were brought to the attention of the school board by a few community members.
    I?m going to clarify one thing before I proceed. What sparked this situation, I am referring to the ?conversation? that was stated as being inappropriate in my dad?s class that made ?this girl? go to the office and complain. The conversation was started when a few students in my father?s class began talking about love, one male student in the class basically stated that he believed ?love was not real?

    The girl then seemed to have gotten offended and left the classroom. The girl that made this ?convo? known to the principal, had her mother come to the school and hold a meeting with my father, Mr. Turner(principal) and the girl?s mother. Again like stated by my father, the girl?s mother brought up attacks against him with statements ranging from, ?he doesn?t even believe in god (being atheist)? to judging his parenting abilities. (which has no relevance)( but to clarify things, my father is a wonderful parent, I have grown up with just him since I was at the age of 11.)

    Now let?s move forward to the suspension of my father, the principal of my former high school, told my father that the board was getting heated pressure from community members that my father should not be teaching at Brookeland High School because he is ?an atheist and too liberal?. If you understood the environment of Brookeland, TX and actually the area as a whole, you would know that it is the ?Bible-belt? of East Texas.

    As my father began to fight for justice, and getting more notice by the minute, Mr. Turner sent my father a letter stating he had ?improper contact with a student during his suspension.? What this meant, was that students contacted my father, (with Brookeland being a small school, it is easy to get a hold of a teachers contacts, especially since I just graduated last spring, and my little brother and sister still attend) and informed them that he had their full support in his fight for justice. That is the misunderstanding that many people are getting on many of these blogs.

    And my father was never informed that he could not talk to any students during his suspension.

    My father tried to instill in his students the same things he instilled in me, individuality, uniqueness, open-mindedness. And with this lesson he tried to teach students, his students did exactly that. They stood up for something, which if you knew half the students in this school, never really knew what to stand up for. Just what their parents would tell them to say. These students passed around a petition to reinstate my father as teacher of the history class. Like I stated in another blog entry, 101 of 103 students signed the petition. Of those two students that didn?t sign, on was a daughter of a school board member, and the other, the girl who left my father?s class.

    Unlike, what was stated by Mr. Turner to the Beaumont Enterprise, which he stated that he did not know of any such petition, is ridiculous. I have heard from MANY of the current students, and they all stated that the petition was put forth to Mr. Turner and he refused to even give it any thought.

    And just like in any situation when someone starts feeling the heat, Brookeland School Board members and the Principal began too, try and cover their ?cabooses?, by making different allegations. But I believe with the support that my father is receiving he will receive justice!!

    Again, I would like to thank everyone for the help and support. It is so greatly needed.

    Sincerely,
    Clint Mullens

  170. #172 David L
    February 6, 2009

    @#125 Jim
    Christianity is only slightly behind Islam in its stupidity.

    A situation Texans are working hard to reverse!

  171. #173 Liberal Atheist
    February 6, 2009

    funnythat @170

    “Wait, did you think the USA was Sweden or something?

    No they would probably be insulted by anything like that :) I was just thinking that labour unions are usually allowed to exist in the free world – especially when it calls itself “the free world”.

  172. #174 Gustaf Sjöblom
    February 6, 2009

    Cannot someone please, please fire a teacher for beeing a theist. Just to see what happends?

  173. #175 clint mullens
    February 6, 2009

    Hi, I?m Clint Mullens, I am the son of Richard Mullens. I understand that my dad?s situation has come to the eye of a widespread amount of people throughout the internet. And I know I?m not only speaking for myself but also for my father, when I say that the help and support is SO greatly appreciated.
    It has also come to my attention that many people are skeptical about my father?s situation, and questioning the legitimacy of his own written statement. And I will do anything I can to clear things up for anybody, being the son of Mr. Mullens, I am up to date with his situation, and if anyone would like to be further informed or updated regularly, I will be glad to do it.
    My email address is:
    cmckinleym@yahoo.com
    I am leaving my number here also, for an easier way of contacting me.
    1-915-345-4491
    I am currently a student in college, so calling and me answering may not always be possible. But if you leave a voicemail, I would be more than glad to return your phone call.
    The following is to clarify some misunderstandings that some people may have about the situation.
    My father was put on administrative leave for a week; the reasons expressed to him by the principal were that my father was ?too liberal? and an ?atheist?. Like stated in my father?s letter, these were brought to the attention of the school board by a few community members.
    I?m going to clarify one thing before I proceed. What sparked this situation, I am referring to the ?conversation? that was stated as being inappropriate in my dad?s class that made ?this girl? go to the office and complain. The conversation was started when a few students in my father?s class began talking about love, one male student in the class basically stated that he believed ?love was not real?
    The girl then seemed to have gotten offended and left the classroom. The girl that made this ?convo? known to the principal, had her mother come to the school and hold a meeting with my father, Mr. Turner(principal) and the girl?s mother. Again like stated by my father, the girl?s mother brought up attacks against him with statements ranging from, ?he doesn?t even believe in god (being atheist)? to judging his parenting abilities. (which has no relevance)( but to clarify things, my father is a wonderful parent, I have grown up with just him since I was at the age of 11.)
    Now let?s move forward to the suspension of my father, the principal of my former high school, told my father that the board was getting heated pressure from community members that my father should not be teaching at Brookeland High School because he is ?an atheist and too liberal?. If you understood the environment of Brookeland, TX and actually the area as a whole, you would know that it is the ?Bible-belt? of East Texas.
    As my father began to fight for justice, and getting more notice by the minute, Mr. Turner sent my father a letter stating he had ?improper contact with a student during his suspension.? What this meant, was that students contacted my father, (with Brookeland being a small school, it is easy to get a hold of a teachers contacts, especially since I just graduated last spring, and my little brother and sister still attend) and informed them that he had their full support in his fight for justice. That is the misunderstanding that many people are getting on many of these blogs.
    And my father was never informed that he could not talk to any students during his suspension.
    My father tried to instill in his students the same things he instilled in me, individuality, uniqueness, open-mindedness. And with this lesson he tried to teach students, his students did exactly that. They stood up for something, which if you knew half the students in this school, never really knew what to stand up for. Just what their parents would tell them to say. These students passed around a petition to reinstate my father as teacher of the history class. Like I stated in another blog entry, 101 of 103 students signed the petition. Of those two students that didn?t sign, on was a daughter of a school board member, and the other, the girl who left my father?s class.
    Unlike, what was stated by Mr. Turner to the Beaumont Enterprise, which he stated that he did not know of any such petition, is ridiculous. I have heard from MANY of the current students, and they all stated that the petition was put forth to Mr. Turner and he refused to even give it any thought.
    And just like in any situation when someone starts feeling the heat, Brookeland School Board members and the Principal began too, try and cover their ?cabooses?, by making different allegations. But I believe with the support that my father is receiving he will receive justice!!
    Again, I would like to thank everyone for the help and support. It is so greatly needed.
    Sincerely,
    Clint Mullens

  174. #176 veritas_aequitas
    February 6, 2009

    Hi, I?m Clint Mullens, I am the son of Richard Mullens. I understand that my dad?s situation has come to the eye of a widespread amount of people throughout the internet. And I know I?m not only speaking for myself but also for my father, when I say that the help and support is SO greatly appreciated.

    It has also come to my attention that many people are skeptical about my father?s situation, and questioning the legitimacy of his own written statement. And I will do anything I can to clear things up for anybody, being the son of Mr. Mullens, I am up to date with his situation, and if anyone would like to be further informed or updated regularly, I will be glad to do it.

    My email address is:
    cmckinleym@yahoo.com

    I am leaving my number here also, for an easier way of contacting me.
    1-915-345-4491
    I am currently a student in college, so calling and me answering may not always be possible. But if you leave a voicemail, I would be more than glad to return your phone call.

    The following is to clarify some misunderstandings that some people may have about the situation.

    My father was put on administrative leave for a week; the reasons expressed to him by the principal were that my father was ?too liberal? and an ?atheist?. Like stated in my father?s letter, these were brought to the attention of the school board by a few community members.
    I?m going to clarify one thing before I proceed. What sparked this situation, I am referring to the ?conversation? that was stated as being inappropriate in my dad?s class that made ?this girl? go to the office and complain. The conversation was started when a few students in my father?s class began talking about love, one male student in the class basically stated that he believed ?love was not real?

    The girl then seemed to have gotten offended and left the classroom. The girl that made this ?convo? known to the principal, had her mother come to the school and hold a meeting with my father, Mr. Turner(principal) and the girl?s mother. Again like stated by my father, the girl?s mother brought up attacks against him with statements ranging from, ?he doesn?t even believe in god (being atheist)? to judging his parenting abilities. (which has no relevance)( but to clarify things, my father is a wonderful parent, I have grown up with just him since I was at the age of 11.)

    Now let?s move forward to the suspension of my father, the principal of my former high school, told my father that the board was getting heated pressure from community members that my father should not be teaching at Brookeland High School because he is ?an atheist and too liberal?. If you understood the environment of Brookeland, TX and actually the area as a whole, you would know that it is the ?Bible-belt? of East Texas.

    As my father began to fight for justice, and getting more notice by the minute, Mr. Turner sent my father a letter stating he had ?improper contact with a student during his suspension.? What this meant, was that students contacted my father, (with Brookeland being a small school, it is easy to get a hold of a teachers contacts, especially since I just graduated last spring, and my little brother and sister still attend) and informed them that he had their full support in his fight for justice. That is the misunderstanding that many people are getting on many of these blogs.

    And my father was never informed that he could not talk to any students during his suspension.
    My father tried to instill in his students the same things he instilled in me, individuality, uniqueness, open-mindedness. And with this lesson he tried to teach students, his students did exactly that. They stood up for something, which if you knew half the students in this school, never really knew what to stand up for. Just what their parents would tell them to say. These students passed around a petition to reinstate my father as teacher of the history class. Like I stated in another blog entry, 101 of 103 students signed the petition. Of those two students that didn?t sign, on was a daughter of a school board member, and the other, the girl who left my father?s class.

    Unlike, what was stated by Mr. Turner to the Beaumont Enterprise, which he stated that he did not know of any such petition, is ridiculous. I have heard from MANY of the current students, and they all stated that the petition was put forth to Mr. Turner and he refused to even give it any thought.

    And just like in any situation when someone starts feeling the heat, Brookeland School Board members and the Principal began too, try and cover their ?cabooses?, by making different allegations. But I believe with the support that my father is receiving he will receive justice!!

    Again, I would like to thank everyone for the help and support. It is so greatly needed.

    Sincerely,
    Clint Mullens

  175. #177 veritas_aequitas
    February 6, 2009

    srry didnt know my first attempt at commenting succeeded.:)

  176. #178 Marlon
    February 6, 2009

    As a native Texan atheist, let me reaffirm that there definitly are islands of informed rationality in this largely pig-ignorant state. Austin is great. Much of Houston is plenty fine.

    Cuttlefish,OM @ 109
    Always love your poetry, but East Texas is mostly piney woods. West Texas is plains and tumbleweeds and all that.

  177. #179 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    Texas is what is called a “right to work” state, which is a hideous euphemism that basically means “anti-union”.

    Bullshit.

    Right to work laws mean that there are no closed shops. In a right-to-work state, you can join a union if you want, but nobody can force you to pay dues or require you to join a union to keep your job.

    In other words, anti-union.

    If a shop’s employees are all unionized, then one of the things they should be able to negotiate for is protection of their own jobs; that’s the whole point of a union. One way to do this is to insist that the employers cannot circumvent the union and hire scabs. This is a negotiating option that should be on the table in a free country.

    Anti-union “right to work” laws are government interference in what should be private negotiations between employers and employees. These laws take a negotiating option off the table rather than letting the citizens involved make their own decisions on a case-by-case basis. These laws invariably benefit employers at the expense of unions. As such they are corporate welfare, government interference on the side of business owners against employees.

    This is one of the ways you can tell a true libertarian apart from a naive business shill. The true libertarian believes that freedom of association and freedom of contract ought to mean that if employees can manage to negotiate for a closed shop, then they have the right to. The naive business shill reflexively supports government intervention on the side of capital. It’s clear which one JCR is.

  178. #180 Brian Coughlan
    February 6, 2009

    Sent a brief email to :

    District 8 – The Woodlands
    Barbara Cargill (R)
    61 W. Wedgemere Circle
    The Woodlands, TX 77381
    281 465-8095
    sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

    Hi Barbara!

    It was with shock an horror that I read of the scandalous treatment of Richard Mullens by the local school board.

    The article is here : http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2009/02/brookeline-school-district-texas-teacher-is-an-atheist-is-put-on-paid-adminstrative-leave.html

    As a concerned global citizen, I had hoped that Obama’s election would turn over a new leaf in the US. Am I, and billions like me around the world to be disappointed? My own wishful thinking aside, is it likely that that board will achieve anything other than a crippling law suit by their actions?

    Seriously, teacher dismissed for being too liberal, for maybe being an atheist? This episode is simply guaranteed to rebound in the school districts face.

    Finally, the US has been a laughing stock for the last 8 years, surely that was enough for even the most hardened masochists among you? It has to end somewhere, let it be here. Talk some sense into your colleagues, and do yourself, your nation and your school budget a favour.

    Regards,

    Brian Coughlan

  179. #181 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    Clint Mullens, thanks for the information and clarification. All the best to your family. If it happens that your father needs financial assistance for legal aid, let me suggest that you both email PZ Myers as he will probably make a new thread about that, and in the meantime, make a comment on a fresh and fast-moving thread here at Pharyngula. Doesn’t really matter if it’s off-topic, we’ll understand the urgency.

  180. #182 Paul Browne
    February 6, 2009

    This whole affair stinks! Surely if it does go to court the conduct and statements of the school and local ministers would have a bearing on the case, even it atheism and liberalism were not mentioned as the actual reasons for dismissal.

    I’ll be disappointed if the ACLU don’t support Richard Mullens in bringing a case against the Brookeland school board. In that case perhaps the science blogger community should try to raise funds to help him fight the case.

  181. #183 Angel Kaida
    February 6, 2009

    Brian Coughlan! As a masochist, I resent that. I’m not trying to destroy the US’s image…!

    (mostly kidding)

  182. #184 Boletus
    February 6, 2009

    Dear Barbara,

    I was outraged to learn of the treatment of Richard Mullens by your local school board. I can’t believe that you’d dismiss a teacher for holding non-violent, mainstream political and religious views. Frankly, Mullens’ politics and metaphysics are none of your business unless he starts using his classroom desk as a pulpit from which to preach. He has not done that and so you are out of line. The sort of treatment he has received is exactly the sort of treatment that members of my family experienced under Communist rule in Soviet occupied Eastern Europe. It’s revolting beyond words to see it take place in the USA.

    Shame!

    ……

  183. #185 Anon
    February 6, 2009

    Let’s take the kid gloves off.

    A national education system is (in part) a means of bringing civilization, skills and a modicum of culture to backward corners of a country. This holds true in rural Afghanistan, rural Canada and in the rural US of A. We need to drop any illusions we may still have about the virtues of “local” control over this civilizing process. It’s just too important to leave to the barbarians. Education from year 7 onward needs to be in either State or Federal hands. Period.

    Then the citizens of the land can hammer out what they want taught in their schools. And they can face the consequences of their choices as a corporate body. I’m sick of reading about some troglodyte in West Bumfucq perpetuating criminal ignorance with impunity.

  184. #186 AJS
    February 6, 2009

    funnythat wrote:

    The true libertarian believes that freedom of association and freedom of contract ought to mean that if employees can manage to negotiate for a closed shop, then they have the right to.

    Bullshit.

    Being obliged to join a union in order to be allowed to work for an employer is no better than being forbidden to join a union. It just means instead of being pushed around by a dick of a boss and there being nothing you can do about it, you get pushed around by a dick of a shop steward and there is nothing you can do about it.

    I suppose you’ll be telling me next that a True Libertarian? believes that laws forbidding the ownership of slaves make one less free.

  185. #187 TX CHL Instructor
    February 6, 2009

    It’s tough to be an atheist almost anywhere. The vast majority of the population believes in sky-faeries, to the point of reacting violently in response to anyone who doesn’t.

    http://www.chl-tx.com

  186. #188 astrobiologiste
    February 6, 2009

    I came out as an atheist the same summer I quit my job at a catholic high school. I’ve had some brushes with my right-wing students while teaching evolution, but remained true to my responsibility as a teacher.

    I live in Mexico, a catholic country, and so far i’ve not had any problems with saying that i’m an atheist when i applied to my new job, nor with my students.

    In my opinion the only criteria that should be used to evaluate a teacher are his proficiency on the subject, his student’s results, and their understanding of the subject. If religion is not listed in the mission and ideals of the place he works for, it should not be an issue.

  187. #189 Moses
    February 6, 2009

    Posted by: John C. Randolph | February 6, 2009 3:37 AM

    Texas is what is called a “right to work” state, which is a hideous euphemism that basically means “anti-union”.

    Bullshit.

    Right to work laws mean that there are no closed shops. In a right-to-work state, you can join a union if you want, but nobody can force you to pay dues or require you to join a union to keep your job.

    -jcr

    As stupid as ever to think it means what you claim. Anti-Union is exactly what it means. Laws put in place by paid-off legislators for the benefit of big business to dis-empower collective bargaining (a form of capitalism ironically where labor has the ability to force wage and benefit concessions for their, well, labor they sell to the Company…).

    Which gets me on to the lib-nuts like you. You’re all for capitalism, as long as you’re on top. Or dream that you’re on top. But the second someone else figures out how to get on top, it’s “socialism.” Or whatever 1950′s red-scare bullshit is common now.

    But then, with the collapse (and the exposure) of laissez-faire capitalism you so enjoyed, I guess bashing Unions is all that is left…

    But, hey, I know you have an answer, for this and everything else: Manufacture more guns and give them to school children… That’ll stimulate the economy and disputes can be solved in the way you like — running gun battles…

  188. #190 Wowbagger
    February 6, 2009

    In my opinion the only criteria that should be used to evaluate a teacher are his proficiency on the subject, his student’s results, and their understanding of the subject. If religion is not listed in the mission and ideals of the place he works for, it should not be an issue.

    It doesn’t sound like Christians involved in Texas education system have too much time for ‘should be’ – unless it’s followed by ‘Christian’ or, if it isn’t, ‘running like hell’.

  189. #191 AJ Milne
    February 6, 2009

    Clint, thank you for taking the time to post that, and please tell your father there are lots and lots and lots of people out here who’ll have his back so far as we can.

    I’m drafting a hard copy letter to the board–expect I’ll cc a local paper, too (someone knowing one can suggest one–failing that, I’ll be looking around)–I always figure those have a little more weight than email. General thrust being: they have not just committed an injustice against your father, but have deprived themselves and their students of a rare and valuable thing: an excellent teacher.

    Tell him chin up from me, if you get a second, and thanks again.

  190. #192 dogmeatib
    February 6, 2009

    It is far, far worse than you think. Our child was in public education for four months, and it was sufficiently horrific that I will forgo meals before I ever subject her to that again.

    Yes, because your experience in [insert town here] is indicative of public school education nation-wide. The literally hundreds of thousands of schools in tens of thousands of school districts in a nation of 300 million all stink because of this on experience. Despite the fact that most of the people who post here graduated from public schools and public universities, public education is absolutely terrible.

    /end sarcastism

  191. #193 KI
    February 6, 2009

    The USA needs to break up. I don’t want to be in the same country as Texas (or Florida or Indiana, for that matter), but I refuse to leave the beautiful land where my ancestors have lived for 150 years. Perhaps Minnesota should petition to become part of Canada. The accents are similar, and we do love hockey up here.

  192. #194 Bill Dauphin
    February 6, 2009

    Perhaps Minnesota should petition to become part of Canada. The accents are similar, and we do love hockey up here.

    And curling!

  193. #195 Helfrick
    February 6, 2009

    The USA needs to break up. I don’t want to be in the same country as Texas (or Florida or Indiana, for that matter),

    Gah! No! How about we send all of our fundies up there and you can come down here and enjoy the beaches in Florida.

  194. #196 Prof MTH
    February 6, 2009

    He can and I hope he does (and wins) file suit on the grounds of religious discrimination. He first needs to file a formal complaint with his state’s EEOC office. He needs evidence and thankfully the idiots provided such evidence in the public record.

  195. #197 Shirley Moll
    February 6, 2009

    Why, why are the religious people so threatened by the fact that someone COULD BE an Atheist? This just leads me to think that religious folks are not very comfortable with their religion.

  196. #198 dogmeatib
    February 6, 2009

    You’re as bad as the “If you’re not a Christian, get out of America” morons. If the schools are bad, that means the schools need to improve, not that he has to move.

    Major problem here with your argument Aquaria, what was the solution to the poor school? After four months, withdraw the student and send them to a private school. How precisely did that accomplish anything in an effort to make the schools better?

    A smart parent would know if a school or district was a piece of shit, and has the right to act accordingly. Good job accusing his child of being a head case, simply because the parent wants the child to have the best learning environment. That’s why you’re full of shit.

    Again, a major flaw in your argument. A smart parent would know this? Then why didn’t Stu? The simple fact is many parents don’t bother to find out anything about the school district where they plan to relocate. That was precisely what we looked into when we made our cross country move. We determined that there were two phenomenal school districts in the community. We then looked at properties in those areas. It turned out that one district was an extremely wealthy area where we would afford to live in the guest house or servant’s quarters, but otherwise we were out of luck. The other was in a rural-suburban area that was growing (prior to the economic collapse) and all of the data showed that their high school was fast becoming a high achieving school. Since then that school has gone on to win state and national awards, my daughter graduated successfully developing all of the skills an educated parent desires, critical thinking skills, core knowledge, artistic understanding to match her ability, linguistic ability, etc.

    This was accomplished while moving to a state that was nearly last in education. It didn’t take that long, it simply took a little effort. So, while Craig’s argument may have been a bit aggressive, his basic point is correct. Of course you already know that given you pointed out that it is the parent’s job to do some homework about the school to which they plan to send their kids. Apparently Stu didn’t do that.

    But of course, let’s just trash public education and pretend that one school (district) is representative of the entire system.

  197. #199 KI
    February 6, 2009

    Sorry, Helfrick, but despite the weather down there this week, it’s too warm for me. Beaches and ocean and warmth…meh. How can you go ice fishing where there’s no ice? How can one stay sane with insects buzzing around all year? If it’s cold, I can put on more clothes, but how do you cope with heat when you’re already naked?

  198. #200 dogmeatib
    February 6, 2009

    Right to work laws mean that there are no closed shops. In a right-to-work state, you can join a union if you want, but nobody can force you to pay dues or require you to join a union to keep your job.

    A union in a right-to-work state is like a neutered bull. Sure it can go through the actions, but nothing comes of it. The states that have these laws uniformly have far weaker unions because they were designed not to eliminate closed shops, but to gut the power of unions and increase the power of the employers. The vast majority of these states have laws in place that greatly increase the power of business, tend to have lower average wages, and also tend to have far fewer protections for workers and wrongful termination.

    Unions in these states have become paper tigers.

  199. #201 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Sorry, Helfrick, but despite the weather down there this week, it’s too warm for me. Beaches and ocean and warmth…meh. How can you go ice fishing where there’s no ice? How can one stay sane with insects buzzing around all year? If it’s cold, I can put on more clothes, but how do you cope with heat when you’re already naked?

    I like your style KI.

    I moved from Jackson, WY and Telluride CO to Charleston, SC.

    Talk about climate shock.

    That was 8 years ago and I’m still adjusting.

    the 20 f temp this morning was great.

  200. #202 Prof MTH
    February 6, 2009

    Announcement:

    Dinesh D’Souza (sp?) will be debating Christopher Hitchens at a Southern Baptists affiliated university in my area. The event is not free. I expect Hitchens to wipe the floor with D’Souza’s intellectually dishonest ass but he will be facing a very hostile audience.

    I taught at the university for 1 semester, attempting to teach formal and informal logic to Southern Baptists (and Calvinists) was a nightmare. My students were assigned a project whereby they were required to find at least 10 different informal fallacies from mass media publications on any topic. (I also allowed them to use message boards as we all know are treasure troves of stupidity.) Well, one student found from a message board a debate on the (im)morality of homosexuality. The original claim was “Homosexuality and rape are on the same par.” A woman responded who was a lesbian and had been raped multiple times by her father and his best friend when she was still a teen (pedophilic incestuous rape).

    She explained, from experience, that the two acts are in no manner “on the same par”. The student in my class “analyzed” the debate and claimed there was no logical fallacy in the original claim and that the woman committed the subjectivist fallacy. I, of course, gave him no credit for that example. He challenged me on the validity of my grading. I had to spend over a half hour explaining how the original claim commits up to 3 potential informal fallacies and how the woman did not commit any fallacy.

    My wife volunteers as a rape advocate for Rape Response. Rape Response last year had 9 cases in one week of women from that SB university who had been raped. (Rape Response has a nurse on staff certified to collect forensic evidence for rape.) Rape Response contacted the university regarding legal action, academic action, and to volunteer coming to the university to provide student advisement on rape. The university literally told them to go away; the perpetrators were not suspended or expelled despite their extremely stringent behavioral requirements all students and faculty must consent to abide.

    In my experience in that one semester that is the typical student mindset. (Most of the students are also pampered and come from extreme wealth.) So Hitchens is in for a rough night.

  201. #203 'Tis Himself
    February 6, 2009

    I wouldn’t want to move to Florida. They’ve got huge (2″ 50mm), flying cockroaches there. The natives call them Palmetto Bugs but they’re still cockroaches.

    Did I mention that they’re huge?

  202. #204 David in NY
    February 6, 2009

    I think some of the commentary above is unduly pessimistic and tends to rely on stereotypes to apply to a whole town. Mr. Mullens clearly has the support of the student body and some people in the community. Those who are out to get him are members of a single sect in the town, and that sect may be known, even there, for its self-righteousness and intolerance. (Or perhaps not, but there’s some indication that it’s not the whole town after him.) This leaves room for negotiation, if his support is sufficient, and certainly for successful litigation (if he’s got the stomach for it).

    But these are delicate situations. His daughter’s e-mail makes it look like they are moving. If he suffers economic damage from these events, he could still sue for any losses he suffered, but he would need financial support or pro bono counsel to do it.

    I really feel sorry for people who, through no fault of their own, end up in situations like this.

  203. #205 Helfrick
    February 6, 2009

    @KI
    The insects really aren’t that bad. The real hazard is the mass influx of retirees during the winter months. It is a boon however, for the folks who have to replace the store fronts when said retirees confuse their reverse and drive gears.

    If it’s cold, I can put on more clothes, but how do you cope with heat when you’re already naked?

    Rum.

  204. #206 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    I wouldn’t want to move to Florida. They’ve got huge (2″ 50mm), flying cockroaches there. The natives call them Palmetto Bugs but they’re still cockroaches.

    Did I mention that they’re huge?

    We have those in South Carolina too. We call them baptists.

    wait

    i mean

  205. #207 KI
    February 6, 2009

    “Giant flying cockroaches!” is my new exclamation of disbelief. That does it, I’m not going south of the fortieth parallel, except to go restaurant hopping in Charleston. Poisonous snakes, big roaches, hurricanes… what else ya got for terror?

  206. #208 Helfrick
    February 6, 2009
  207. #209 rocketbryguy
    February 6, 2009

    If you’d like to stir the pot further, I believe these are the school “contact us” pages:
    http://www.brookelandisd.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=22

    For the curious, Rich Mullens’ mugshot on the school site is here: http://www.brookelandisd.net/index.php?option=com_alphacontent&section=contacts&category=17&Itemid=4&limitstart=15

    I think they probably got upset because he was wearing an sportcoat, open black shirt and what looks like a necklace…

  208. #210 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Giant flying cockroaches!” is my new exclamation of disbelief. That does it, I’m not going south of the fortieth parallel, except to go restaurant hopping in Charleston.

    Good call. We do have fanfuckingtastic restaurants here.

    But also flying cockroaches.

  209. #211 Mike
    February 6, 2009

    Chawst’n ain’t got no cawkroaches, weez got palmetta bugz!

  210. #212 Dianne
    February 6, 2009

    It is tough to be an atheist in Texas. I gave it up as a bad job myself.

    However, I should point out that the area in question is not representative of all of Texas. My high school english teacher openly made fun of the Bible and other religious writings. He was considered a bit cantankerous, but never fired, lynched, or accused of inappropriate behavior. Of course, this was a private school in Dallas not a public school in the sticks.

  211. #213 Peter Ashby
    February 6, 2009

    i too am appalled by the no contact with teachers thing. Here in Scotland our kids were with teachers at all sorts of extracurricular activities. The youngest went to her maths teacher’s house for extra lessons. We bumped into the teacher while out recently and she was thrilled that the youngest had taken and passed maths papers at uni.

    We have peripatetic music teachers and both kids engaged them for private tuition after starting with them at school. What a horrible stultifying atmosphere there must be not to even be able to talk to a child outside of school if you happen to meet for fear of some sort of sanction.

  212. #214 IST
    February 6, 2009

    To the overall debate> NEA is about as useful as a chocolate kettle in these instances… they don’t provide support, as they are mainly lobbyists. AFT might be better, but I can’t honestly say. The local versions of the NEA are almost expressly for this sort of event however. In most Southern states they aren’t actual unions, but they still provide legal support, often times for free.

    Prof @ #202> I’m also in the South.. where might this debate be occuring? If it’s not TOO far from Raleigh, I’d be willing to help make the audience a bit less hostile.

  213. #215 jagannath
    February 6, 2009

    I care not of the atheist, agnostic or pagan
    I object to those not telling me how to feel

    Should I hate you or should I despite you
    Should I blame you or should I frame you

    That you deny from me by not tell your label
    Label so clear that I can direct my fear

  214. #216 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    Being obliged to join a union in order to be allowed to work for an employer is no better than being forbidden to join a union. It just means instead of being pushed around by a dick of a boss and there being nothing you can do about it, you get pushed around by a dick of a shop steward and there is nothing you can do about it.

    I suppose you’ll be telling me next that a True Libertarian? believes that laws forbidding the ownership of slaves make one less free.

    There is no comparison. No one is obliged to join a union without “right to work” laws. If you don’t want a union, then you just don’t apply for a job at a unionized shop, just like if you don’t want to work with food, you don’t apply for a job at a restaurant. Freedom of association and personal autonomy are preserved, unlike in your predictably ludicrous example of slavery. (Why is it that everything is slavery to right-wing libertarians? Is it a fetish?)

    Again, the issue is freedom of contract. Without a “right to work” law, unions and employers are permitted to negotiate over a closed shop; there’s no guarantee that they’ll reach such a conclusion, but it’s freely negotiated. With a “right to work” law, the government intervenes, limits the freedom of contract, and preemptively takes the option of a closed shop off the negotiating table.

    This is anti-libertarian, but pro-business. Your allegiance is obvious; for you, libertarianism is a pretty mask that conceals an agenda of corporate welfare.

  215. #217 raven
    February 6, 2009

    If Mullens sues the school district, it should be a slam dunk.

    When morons screw up and start to change their story, like the school board, it is a sign that they are wrong, they know it, and they are digging their hole deeper. DUMB!!!

    I saw a similar case in court in a whistleblower case. Someone was fired for political reasons. In court, the perps presented a story of why the guy was fired. And then another story. And then a few more stories. The judge ruled against them. He pointed out that the fact that they presented 6 different contradictory reasons why he was fired indicated that their testimony was false.

    We all know what coverups look like, seen enough of them since Nixon resigned.

    BTW, destroying evidence is obstruction of justice and lying under oath is perjury. Both are felonies. The cracker culties sound so dumb that they will probably try both. And possibly that old xian cultist standby, death threats.

  216. #218 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    I suppose you’ll be telling me next that a True Libertarian? believes that laws forbidding the ownership of slaves make one less free.

    And for the record, laws forbidding the ownership of slaves did make slaveowners less free. Big fucking deal. The lesson learned is that some freedoms, like the freedom of certain powerful individuals to enslave, should be overridden by the community for the greater good.

  217. #219 Theo
    February 6, 2009

    @213

    I hope I haven’t given the idea that contact with students is forbidden outside of class. If I were to run into a student out in public of course I would be happy to see them. The same goes for field trips and extra-curricular activities. I can call students or their parents at home using a school phone from a school office, or email them using my school account.

    What I can’t do is give them my home #, my private email, meet with them alone behind closed doors, give them a ride in my car etc.

  218. #220 Prof MTH
    February 6, 2009

    Prof @ #202> I’m also in the South.. where might this debate be occuring? If it’s not TOO far from Raleigh, I’d be willing to help make the audience a bit less hostile.

    It is in Alabama on March 3rd. Probably too far to drive.

  219. #221 rnb
    February 6, 2009

    funnythat,

    Do you remember the Teamsters’ sweetheart contract with the growers?
    No way I would want that union to represent me.

  220. #222 CG
    February 6, 2009

    to KI@207

    Poisonous snakes, big roaches, hurricanes… what else ya got for terror?

    Baptists. Snake handling weirdos. Those talking in tongues people.

    *shiver*

    I don’t go below Washington D.C. as a rule. Even there it’s kinda scary sometimes…

  221. #223 shonny
    February 6, 2009

    Christianity is only slightly behind Islam in its stupidity.
    Evilbible.com for more info…

    Nope, they (as religious fundamentalist ideologies) are on equal standing, just that the spreading of the shit happens in different countries.

  222. #224 Bert Chadick
    February 6, 2009

    It sounds like this teacher loves teaching and most folks that do are loathe to sue their school knowing how tight money is in most public school districts. I was born and raised in Texas, and can testify that a large percentage of the fundies don’t believe there is such a thing as an atheist, just confused christians. I’ve spent hours trying to convince relatives that it is possible to not believe in gods or their god.

  223. #225 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    Do you remember the Teamsters’ sweetheart contract with the growers?
    No way I would want that union to represent me.

    So get a job somewhere else. Oh wait, you already did. Then you have no point to add to this discussion.

  224. #226 Andy
    February 6, 2009

    The local school board has actually done something much more vicious than merely firing Mr. Mullens. They (or their lawyers) know they cannot terminate a teacher for his religious beliefs, so instead they officially cited “inappropriate contact with students.”

    This will be widely understood by the public to mean sexual contact, or (at a minimum) a too-familiar personal relationship. And because they will have to continue to hide the actual cause of his termination, they will cite employee confidentiality rules and refuse to provide any further explanation, leaving the unspoken-but-crystal-clear implication unchallenged.

    The school board hasn’t just fired this man; they’ve destroyed his career and personal reputation. I hope he sues and bankrupts that little school district, because the reality is that he will probably never teach again.

  225. #227 smchris
    February 6, 2009

    “He should count himself lucky. If the parents had accused him of being a witch, he might have been hanged by now.”

    Folks here must not have heard about the substitute teacher in Florida:

    Teacher Fired for Magic Trick, County Calls It “Wizardry”
    http://www.wftv.com/news/16168335/detail.html?1

    We’re a very, _very_ sick nation. One reason why I wouldn’t work in the knuckle-dragging South if they paid me weekly in $10,000 bills. And if I had the sorry luck to be a teacher there? I’d turn the microrecorder in my blazer pocket on before entering every classroom.

  226. #228 Stu
    February 6, 2009

    Just to clarify:

    Our daughter went to a lovely private school (because it was close, and my wife went there, and it was really good) until 1st grade. We moved across town and put her in, by reputation and stats, the best public school in the district. Not a poor school at all.

    She started coming home with material she had been doing a year and a half before.

    Again, this public school was not bad, it’s just that the private schools ruined it for her.

    Not that private schools impress me, either. The overall level of education is dreary. I’ve helped friends do college math that was almost exactly like the math I helped my sister with.

    At 12.

    (Yes, I am an immigrant.)

  227. #229 Strangel
    February 6, 2009

    I’m so glad we’re leaving Texas this month. Of course, we are going back to Colorado Springs…

  228. #230 Helfrick
    February 6, 2009

    Re: #227

    I admit my bias in advance of defending my beloved home state. The story referenced in #227 may not be as simple as stated: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/article511648.ece

    Rather, the district had written reports from the principal and a teacher at Rushe Middle School detailing Piculas’ use of profane language, his inability to control the class and his decision to put a student in charge ? something the student’s parent complained about.

  229. #231 Matt White
    February 6, 2009

    I emailed ACLU Texas about this. This is outrageous.

  230. #233 PamParker
    February 6, 2009

    RE: right-to-work and illegal unions
    Texas is a right to work state, which has been noted by others merely means that you can’t be required to join a union in order to work for a particular employer. There are a few unions in Texas. But Texas separately has a law that prohibits collective bargaining by public school teachers, so teachers here cannot unionize at all. There are several teacher organizations, though, and they all provide legal assistance in situations like Mr. Mullins’. Teachers here also have pretty good contract protections.

    Mr. Mullins probably could have put on a very strong defense to any termination. But even if he won, it would have been a difficult environment for him to continue to work in. Not all people want the aggravation. I hope that Mr Mullins made the best decision for himself.

  231. #234 Michael B.
    February 6, 2009

    Dover Again???
    Four letters of advice from those of us not too far removed from Dover,PA… A.C.L.U.

  232. #235 Stella
    February 6, 2009

    I’m an atheist in Texas. It’s not hard at all in Austin.

  233. #236 AJS
    February 6, 2009

    No one is obliged to join a union without “right to work” laws. If you don’t want a union, then you just don’t apply for a job at a unionized shop, just like if you don’t want to work with food, you don’t apply for a job at a restaurant. Freedom of association and personal autonomy are preserved, unlike in your predictably ludicrous example of slavery. (Why is it that everything is slavery to right-wing libertarians? Is it a fetish?)

    It doesn’t work that way, and you know it. Jobs are a scarce resource, you can’t just not apply for a job at a unionised shop. And some people prefer what’s easy to what’s right.

    There is no difference in practice between being compelled to join a union and being banned from joining a union. Unions can be every bit as corrupt as management; and when that happens in a closed-shop situation, you’re as much out of luck as someone in a dispute with management in a union-free workplace.

    Oh, and you’re the first person in a long time who’s called me right-wing. :)

    Again, the issue is freedom of contract. Without a “right to work” law, unions and employers are permitted to negotiate over a closed shop; there’s no guarantee that they’ll reach such a conclusion, but it’s freely negotiated.

    You hope. In practice, it’s entirely possible for the union representatives to have an agenda diametrically opposed to the interests of their members. When a representative casts his ballot at conference, he’s casting 300 votes even if 295 of the people he represents disagree with him. Sure, they could pass a resolution creating a local policy on an issue, which would have to be followed at the bloc vote; but anyone bent enough to vote against a majority is likely to find ways of making things difficult for them.

    With a “right to work” law, the government intervenes, limits the freedom of contract, and preemptively takes the option of a closed shop off the negotiating table.

    Which is precisely where it belongs: off the negotiating table and in the wastebasket of history.

    This is anti-libertarian, but pro-business. Your allegiance is obvious; for you, libertarianism is a pretty mask that conceals an agenda of corporate welfare.

    I think you might be committing the fallacy of false dichotomy here. I’m against misuse of power by corrupt union leadership, but that doesn’t mean I’m for management. I’m for individuals. I just haven’t yet seen a serious argument for a way to get individual voices listened to without the need for unions; so I have to concede, in the light of the available data, that unions are the least bad way forward.

    Beside which, actions are meaningless unless they are performed out of will. If I know that my buddy chose to join the union with me, I can be reasonably sure that he’ll bleed if I ever get cut; because that is what he signed up for, of his own volition. Surer at any rate than I’d be if I knew he was pushed into joining.

    I suppose you’ll be telling me next that a True Libertarian? believes that laws forbidding the ownership of slaves make one less free.

    And for the record, laws forbidding the ownership of slaves did make slaveowners less free. Big fucking deal. The lesson learned is that some freedoms, like the freedom of certain powerful individuals to enslave, should be overridden by the community for the greater good.

    That is what I am saying about the closed shop: It cannot be allowed for the greater good.

  234. #237 John Bode
    February 6, 2009

    Just to amplify some things mentioned above…

    Texas is a big damned state, and is hardly monolithic in culture or belief. We’re not all ignorant rednecks, and the big cities (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin) are fairly cosmopolitan. We have rural communities that are tolerant of and friendly to other beliefs. Probably not enough to counter the damage places like Brookline do, but at least the whole state isn’t like Brookline. Probably our greatest failing is electing morons to state office, but I don’t see us being all that unique in that respect.

    Hell, we gave the world people like LBJ and Molly Ivins, remember?

  235. #238 Letao
    February 6, 2009

    I’ve said for years that we need to divorce Texas from the Union. Isn’t there a way to do that?

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Texas…beautiful state, wonderful geography…wouldn’t’ be so bad if it weren’t for all the Texans.

  236. #239 Letao
    February 6, 2009

    I’ve said for years that we need to divorce Texas from the Union. Isn’t there a way to do that?

    Our national education system suffers because of Texas. Because they are such a big customer of school textbooks, they have disproportionate influence on what gets included/excluded in the texts. Just ask some of the folks who work at Addison-Wesley, Pearson, et al.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Texas…beautiful state, wonderful geography…wouldn’t’ be so bad if it weren’t for all the damned Texans.

  237. #240 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Texas…beautiful state, wonderful geography…wouldn’t’ be so bad if it weren’t for all the Texans.

    ALL the Texans huh?

  238. #241 rnb
    February 6, 2009

    funnythat: “So get a job somewhere else. Oh wait, you already did. Then you have no point to add to this discussion.”

    I was never a farmworker, though some of my relatives were.
    My family always supported the United Farm Workers Union, and their boycotts

  239. #242 Roger Scott
    February 6, 2009

    The gutless school administrators should be the ones suspended.

  240. #243 Jadehawk
    February 6, 2009

    hat private schools impress me, either. The overall level of education is dreary. I’ve helped friends do college math that was almost exactly like the math I helped my sister with.

    At 12.

    (Yes, I am an immigrant.)

    ditto. when I told some coworkers once that I missed Organic Chemistry because I spent 11th grade abroad they looked at me as if I had grown another head! :-p

    another reason why, should I ever find myself pregnant, I’m immediately packing my bags and moving back to Germany, even if it means moving back in with my mom.

  241. #244 E.V.
    February 6, 2009

    RevBDC.:
    You’re stirring up the pot I see. Ah what the hell, I’m in a nihilist phase now.

    For some reason, most Texans show more patriotism towards being a Texan than being a US citizen and would love to secede from the Union. Molly, Ann and John Henry are gone and Dubya’s moving to Dallas, it just gets worser and worser.

  242. #245 Dana
    February 6, 2009

    “That extract from the Texas constitution truly flabberghasted me. Americans, no more complaining about Muslim theocracies until you’ve expelled Texas or force it to remove this clause, OK?”

    We’d have to expel more than just Texas…North Carolina has a similar clause in our state constitution, and I’m sure we’re not the only two states.

  243. #246 funnythat
    February 6, 2009

    In practice, it’s entirely possible for the union representatives to have an agenda diametrically opposed to the interests of their members. When a representative casts his ballot at conference, he’s casting 300 votes even if 295 of the people he represents disagree with him. Sure, they could pass a resolution creating a local policy on an issue, which would have to be followed at the bloc vote; but anyone bent enough to vote against a majority is likely to find ways of making things difficult for them.

    It’s possible, therefore it happens constantly and unions are completely worthless. That’s your FUD. Of course, if you weren’t implying false dichotomies with your pathetic scare tactics, then there remains the fact that on average unionized workers get better pay and better benefits than non-unionized workers. So whatever bullshit complaints you come up with, the rational way to deal with them is organizational, rather than complaining on Pharyngula about how unions killed your puppy.

    It doesn’t work that way, and you know it. Jobs are a scarce resource, you can’t just not apply for a job at a unionised shop. And some people prefer what’s easy to what’s right.

    Therefore the unionized workers should be forced to use their dues to pay for bargaining that protects the non-unionized workers. That’s what you’re saying, because that’s what a “right to work” law means. The union is forced by law to represent all the workers, but the union cannot require the workers it represents to pay dues for their representation. So anybody who wants can just be a free rider.

    Forget you. Given the choice between telling an applicant to get on down the road and apply at a non-unionized shop, or letting him free ride on the honest dues-paying union workers, he can take a hike. That’s the only fair option.

    There is no difference in practice between being compelled to join a union and being banned from joining a union.

    Quite false. The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167). That’s a sizable difference in practice, my friend. I could always use an extra five thousand bucks.

    Beside which, actions are meaningless unless they are performed out of will. If I know that my buddy chose to join the union with me, I can be reasonably sure that he’ll bleed if I ever get cut; because that is what he signed up for, of his own volition. Surer at any rate than I’d be if I knew he was pushed into joining.

    So you’d rather work alongside the free riders who won’t be there for you in any case and who don’t pay a damned cent but still get representation under your union dues in a “right to work” state. I’m sure.

    You haven’t really thought this through.

    You’ll always know who’s signed up of his or her own volition, because under federal law, the National Labor Relations Act,

    ?Union Shop? Clauses
    Various provisions of the NLRA relate to the principle of ?union security.? The primary
    provisions are Sections 8(a)(3) and 8(b)(2), which authorize so-called ?union shop? clauses in
    collective bargaining contracts requiring unit employees, as a condition of employment, to obtain
    (within 30 days for nonconstruction employers) and maintain membership in the union. Such a
    clause can be enforced by the union (usually by demanding the discharge of the noncomplying
    employee) under two conditions:
    ? First, the clause can only be enforced on a uniform, nondiscriminatory basis. A union cannot
    selectively enforce a union security clause by, for example, invoking the clause only against
    delinquent union dissidents or employees who have resigned their full union membership.
    ? Second, the clause can only be enforced if the employee has failed to maintain ?financial
    core? status in the union.
    ?Financial core? status only requires payment of periodic dues or service fees and initiation
    fees. Employees with financial core status can request that their fees be used only for the union?s
    collective bargaining activities, e.g., contract negotiation and administrative and grievance
    adjustments, and not for political purposes. Section 19 contains a ?religious conscientious objector?
    clause providing for a tax-exempt donation in lieu of payment of union dues or fees. Excessive or
    discriminatory initiation fees are unlawful under Section 8(b)(5). The requirement of only ?financial
    core? union status eliminates the problem of ?free riders? (employees who enjoy the benefit of the
    union?s collective bargaining efforts without bearing the corresponding financial burden) while
    avoiding constitutional problems of freedom of speech and association under the First Amendment.
    Employees with financial core status, however, are not subject to union discipline because they are
    not full members.
    A union is under a fiduciary duty with respect to its enforcement of union security clauses.
    Thus, the union must give an employee reasonable notice and explanation of the delinquency and a
    reasonable opportunity to pay.
    Full union membership cannot be compelled under the NLRA. The discharge of any
    employee pursuant to a union shop clause for any reason other than the failure to pay financial core
    obligations is unlawful.

    those who don’t want to be full members of the union don’t have to be in the union, and only have to pay a minimal “financial core” to cover their share of the bargaining that covers them.

    That’s how you’ll know who chose to join and who didn’t. So you can quit worrying.

    (Besides that, it’s not at all true that actions performed against one’s will are meaningless. If you don’t know about the psychology of rationalization after the fact, I’m not going to school you, but it’s well established that people tend to become seriously active in anything they have invested in. But this is not so much to claim to what extent this goes on in a union, rather to note that you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.)

    I think you might be committing the fallacy of false dichotomy here. I’m against misuse of power by corrupt union leadership, but that doesn’t mean I’m for management.

    It’s a very real dichotomy. If you are for “right to work” laws, then you are for the management. Only the management benefits. The workers lose. In “right to work” states, the management can always circumvent the union and hire scabs and free riders. The unionized workers are punished by the non-unionized. The union loses bargaining power. All the workers make less money. If you are for “right to work” then you are against unions. If you don’t understand that, as I suspect you don’t, given your ignorance of the NLRA, then you’ve been lied to.

    That is what I am saying about the closed shop: It cannot be allowed for the greater good.

    Forget your ass-backward idea of the greater good. I know what an extra $5000 means to me.

  244. #247 jose
    February 6, 2009

    Replace “atheist” with “negro” and there you go, texas’ pure ol’ spirit.

  245. #248 dogmeatib
    February 6, 2009

    I live and work in a “right to work state” and I can tell you that contrary to the myth that it helps workers, it helps employers at the expense of workers. As funnythat has pointed out, workers make less in these states, unions are a joke, and, because the unions are a joke, people don’t join them which makes them even more of a joke. It’s a beautiful catch-22, beautiful if you are the management. Unions have no power because they don’t have any members, no one joins the union because they have no power, repeat…

    For those of you who are immigrants, the problem in the United States with education is rather simple. Unlike many countries that test their kids and then send them to vocational programs or college prep programs based on their scores, the United States operates under an egalitarian philosophy that all kids are going to go to college (actually had a community member make that argument at a board meeting). My personal philosophy is that this system is fatally flawed, it doesn’t meet the needs of today’s kids in both vocational and college preparation. In a sense I would argue that we need to make an effort to adopt a split educational system that better prepares people for both, but in reality, that is highly unlikely to happen.

  246. #249 Stella
    February 6, 2009

    Apparently some of these folks missed the memo: Alaska is the new Texas.
    ;)

  247. #250 Paul
    February 6, 2009

    He’s going to be a very wealthy man by the time he has finished suing the school board and after suing the parent for libel and slander.

  248. #251 Kagehi
    February 6, 2009

    Hmm. Problem with right to work isn’t just the issue of the ‘local gubment haven a dim vew’ of commie things like people getting together in groups and trying to bargain, its that even when “allowed” to do so, the people involved get the short end of the stick. Place I work for is currently in negotiation for a new contract. They are 4 months “behind” when the contract was “supposed” to be issued, and they are still arguing with the company over issues involving loss of seniority within the company, if you change departments (currently, under the contract, changing departments “resets” you to the lowest point on the roster, even if you have worked for the company for 10+ years). They haven’t even started on wages, and that is so messed up that we get different wages under the current, now defunct, contract depending on which city we are in. As one person said, they have been working for the company for 15 years, and every 2 years they lose something. Either minimum number of hours they “must” receive, shorter breaks, a wage cap that is lower than the prior contract, less insurance coverage, etc. Heck, one “current” suggestion involved shorting people sick days for cases involving things like appointments, so they would lose vacation time instead, if they requested the day off. I am not at all impressed with what unions “can” do in ‘right to starve’ states, as every single person I know of calls the laws.

  249. #252 Dianne
    February 6, 2009

    I’ve said for years that we need to divorce Texas from the Union. Isn’t there a way to do that?

    Tried that. It didn’t take. How about giving it back to Mexico? (No, forget that idea. Mexico has enough problems without dumping Texas on it.)

  250. #253 Ema
    February 6, 2009

    Very very sad, but not that surprising.

    Reminds me of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTRDRP2n4Sk
    I feel so bad for that girl :(

  251. #254 John C. Randolph
    February 7, 2009

    Anti-union “right to work” laws are government interference in what should be private negotiations between employers and employees.

    If you have an objection to government interference in private negotiations, then you should be calling for the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act.

    -jcr

  252. #255 funnythat
    February 7, 2009

    If you have an objection to government interference in private negotiations, then you should be calling for the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act.

    So that I can be fired for trying to join a union. Of course. And under the same reasoning that employers should be able to fire for anything, I should be calling for the repeal of laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. What a stupid world you libertarians live in.

  253. #256 Joe Max
    February 7, 2009

    “…Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4:
    RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

    So any religion except atheism and possibly Buddism? Depends on how you define ‘Supreme Being’ I suppose.

    How about Hinduism or Paganism? Does the plural form of “Supreme Beings” count? Ooo, I’d like to see a constitutional challenge on THAT one!

  254. #257 AJS
    February 7, 2009
    If you have an objection to government interference in private negotiations, then you should be calling for the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act.

    So that I can be fired for trying to join a union. Of course.

    Which is different from being fired for refusing to join a union, how exactly?

    And under the same reasoning that employers should be able to fire for anything, I should be calling for the repeal of laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. What a stupid world you libertarians live in.

    No, not at all. I would like to see a unified anti-discrimination act prohibiting discrimination on any grounds unrelated to the ability to do the job — not just the usual age, sex, race, orientation thing but also political affiliation, dress, body adornment &c. Religion {or not} too, obviously. And an inviolable wall of separation between one’s professional and personal lives, so that nobody could be fired on account of things they did while “off the clock” unless they somehow involved the employer (e.g., running down an old lady in the company’s van).

    I still don’t see the closed shop as anything but a gross abuse of rights. It still concentrates power and that’s what I see as the bad bit, because it means the choice is between leaving the union or keeping your job, which is very unfair. I don’t understand American law, but it sounds backwards to me. You don’t have to support the right of management to trample on their employees just because you oppose the right of unions to trample on their members.

  255. #258 funnythat
    February 7, 2009
    If you have an objection to government interference in private negotiations, then you should be calling for the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act.

    So that I can be fired for trying to join a union. Of course.

    Which is different from being fired for refusing to join a union, how exactly?

    You are too stupid to participate in this conversation, AJS. As I already told you, under the National Labor Relations Act, YOU CANNOT BE FIRED FOR REFUSING TO JOIN A UNION.

    I don’t understand American law, but it sounds backwards to me.

    Yeah, I didn’t see before that you were a Brit. So all the shit you said about closed shops is fucking useless bullshit, because you don’t understand anything about the reality on the ground.

    Employees in states without “right to work” laws make an average of over $5000 more than employees in states with those laws. So take your concern trolling, take your lies and propaganda and crying about some what a gross abuse of employees’ rights it is to put an extra $5000 in the employee’s pocket, and fuck off.

    You don’t have to support the right of management to trample on their employees just because you oppose the right of unions to trample on their members.

    This is just the stupidest thing you’ve ever said. You are exactly like a creationist, rambling on and on about things you have no understanding of. You obviously have no shame, either, because you’re willing to shill for naive right-wing libertarianism at the expense of looking like a completely ignorant fuckwit.

  256. #259 IST
    February 7, 2009

    @256, and whomever posted the original?
    Texas state law prohibits someone who doesn’t acknowledge the existence of a supreme being? How is that legal? I’d be amazed that noone’s sued over that, but it is Texas. ” I’m sorry Mr. Paine, you can’t run for office here because you don’t believe in Jeebus”… disgusting.

    ah.. here’s my home state:

    North Carolina’s Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8:
    “Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God….”

    Time to move…

  257. #260 chuckgoecke
    February 7, 2009

    As if all this crap wasn’t enough for the poor guy, apparently, he lost a brother in Ardmore OK, earlier this summer:
    Look under survivors.
    http://www.ardmoreite.com/archive/x1768843773/Ronald-Wade-Skinner

  258. #261 anvil
    February 8, 2009

    I’ve sent the following letter to one of the local newspapers; The Beaumont Enterprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath on it being printed…

    Dear Sir,

    May I apologise in advance for being an outsider whose opinion may not be welcome. For the record I am neither a resident nor citizen of your great country. I cannot vote for your leaders, yet your leaders decisions affect outcomes in the greater world that I inhabit and, as such, I, like many, follow the politics and history of the United States with great interest and concern.

    It may clarify my position further by stating that I stand in awe of the bravery and wisdom of your Founding Fathers, and that I believe that The Constitution (and specifically the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state), the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence to be among the foremost documents in the history of civilisation ? a fact for which you can be rightly proud.

    Like similar-minded around the world who believe in equality and the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I too, hold all these truths to be self evident.

    It was, then, with a sad and heavy heart that I read about the dire situation of Brookeland teacher Richard Mullens, who, by any reading of the facts, is the victim of a type of religious fundamentalism that must be fought both tooth and nail. But surely, I hear you say, this is, (to use an Americanism) ?small potatoes?; Small town news involving a small town teacher. Wake up America! This is a road much travelled both past and present. A road that our young men and women are daily risking – and giving – their lives to prevent us having to journey. This is, indeed, the road to intolerance, the road along which young women have acid thrown in their faces for daring to go to school, the road to Westboro, the road to the dynamiting of the Afghani Buddha?s, the road, no less, to the establishment of an absolute tyranny by people who, no doubt, have the shame-faced cheek to lay claim to the name ?Christian?.

    We, who look in from the outside, can do no more than pen mere words against this abuse of position, privilege, and power. This battle, for good or ill, falls to you, America.

    No nation in history has had such greatness thrust upon it as has The United States, but with such greatness come responsibility and the need for great courage and wisdom ? both collectively and personally.

    I would therefore implore you to give this man your full and wholehearted support in righting this cruel and unconstitutional wrong.

    We, who look in from outside, can, and will do so, with either applause or derision. We can only hope it will be the former. In the meantime, as we look on, we, like the great Thomas Jefferson, can only hope we need not tremble for the future of your country.

    Anvil Springstien. Newcastle upon Tyne. England.

  259. #262 Jill Briggs
    February 8, 2009

    I live in New Zealand where we are free to believe or not believe whatever takes our fancy. It is our choice. I am a Smart Atheist and a Retired Teacher and in my teaching days I regularly used magic to turn my pupils into FROGS or make them grow PRICKLES for telling LIES! Richard Mullins is best out of that school. If the pupils are as daft as the parents they are not worth educating. Jill

  260. #263 Ervan Remoh
    February 9, 2009

    It’s things like this that simultaneously attract me to and repulse me from the prospect of moving to America. On the one hand I would love to get involved in such disputes, taking the fight to the intolerant religion of America, helping those who are persecuted for a belief that should have no bearing on their status as a human being. On the other I would worry about the education my children (should I ever have some) might receive, because that’s one thing I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice.

    If I did get the chance to teach at that school I would, only so I could continue the fine work of Mr Mullens.

  261. #264 Michael Heath
    February 9, 2009

    @261 – I’m about the most hardened culture warrior out there yet the beauty of your argument in your letter had me in tears. Cheers to you! In both senses of the word, i.e., a toast and sincere thanks.

  262. #265 Gary Westmoreland
    February 9, 2009

    My wife teaches middle school in Texas, East Texas that is, and what’s happening to Mr. Mullens is of absolutely no surprise to me or her. The tales of what occurs daily- primarily with school supervisors, is sickening to even one with a moderate thought process. And yes, they would bring out a scaffold if someone there in any capacity was even suspected of being non theist.
    I’ve learned much from the enclosed posts, not surprised, just pissed.

  263. #266 veritas_aequitas
    February 9, 2009

    what has been stated by Mr. Turner to the Beaumont Enterprise, is that my father has resigned under pressure.

    which is very misleading, I dont know whether the school board and Mr. Turner himself read the letter sent to him correctly or not.

    The Letter stated, that my father would not be interested in RENEWING, his contract for the following year. A little different than him, resigning immediately.

    Tisk Tisk Brookeland High School, My father recieved the letter back, signed by the Interim-Superintendent. So my father has proof to show otherwise of what Turner said.. So they just keep digging deeper and deeper with misleading information…Tisk Tisk

  264. #267 Lola Getz
    February 10, 2009

    To Tabby Lavalamp:

    Can we at least keep Banff and Lake Louise for us non-crazy skiing heathens?

  265. #268 Heather
    February 13, 2009

    I am an Atheist Texan, we are an endangered species in this part of the world. This article chilled me to the bone. It’s particularly terrifying because I can see it happening in this bible emulsified community quite easily. What happened to Mr. Mullens (if the facts are all portrayed in accuracy) is flagrantly illegal. I would think an attorney somewhere would love to take this case on defamation of character alone (set aside all the other illegalities that were allowed). For the sake of all Texas Atheists I hope Mr.Mullens doesn’t just sit back and let this happen to him without fighting.

  266. #269 Adey
    February 17, 2009

    I sometimes baulk at the power the Church of England still seems to wield here (in the UK), but this story both terrifies me and makes me grateful for our (relative) religious tolerance. Please excuse my ignorance, but how does such blinkered bigotry gain such power across the pond? How does a country that is still held up as a beacon of choice and freedom allow such narrow-minded bigotry to come to the fore? I read so much about separation of church and state, but see less and less evidence of it. I really don’t mean to sound like a snooty Brit, but this sort of publicity does the American image an awful lot of harm abroad. Not that I suppose the self-righteous bigots in your society, as in ours, give a fuck.

  267. #270 Crystal
    February 18, 2009

    As an atheist in Texas, this is very disappointing and even painful to hear. It’s amazing how close minded people STILL are in this day and age.