This case of denying a teacher’s First Amendment rights is worth following for anyone who considers the Bible to be God’s Word. A public school is attempting to discipline a well-liked, award-winning teacher for expressing personal views that contradict the politically-correct understanding of gay marriage. He did not express these views during school hours, nor even at school or in a school-related forum. He expressed them on Facebook, which regularly asks me the question, “What’s on your mind?” Whose mind? My mind. An answer to that question, on a social forum like Facebook, without any connection to the school, seems to be just what the speech section of the First Amendment was meant to protect. Those who argue otherwise are showing totalitarian, statist tendencies as well as rank intolerance for diverse points of view.
Now, if the school were not an arm of the government, but a private school instead, then the teacher would be subject to the terms of his employment contract. The Bill of Rights, including the protection of free speech, is not meant to limit the behavior of private citizens or employers. It’s meant to limit the behavior of government, in order to protect the innate rights of individuals.
It’s ultimately the mother and father’s responsibility to teach their children, but the civil government has undertaken this responsibility (among many others) because of its interest in future generations. Unfortunately, the civil government is in no position to teach all that children need to learn. In the United States, government is also prohibited by the First Amendment from teaching that a particular religion is truth. That’s a good thing as far as law, order and justice are concerned, but it means that government education is necessarily inadequate. Most people don’t understand this inadequacy, though, concluding that religious instruction is inessential to a complete education. This conclusion could not be more wrong.
This case illustrates another shortcoming of public education. Though it is supposed to reflect the mores of society in general without favoring one tradition over another, the inevitable compromise will not only impoverish the education program, but also blur the basis on which teachers may be disciplined. Opportunistic idealogues will leap into the breach in an effort to impose their own views upon society through the influence of government. That’s what’s being attempted in this case, leaving the destruction of this individual’s First Amendment right and his teaching career as collateral damage.
The solution for Christians is to establish and support our own schools. We can use a curriculum in harmony with God’s Word, and we will be free to run the schools in accord with the principles of our faith. If our statist neighbors succeed in destroying the protections of the First Amendment, our schools would have to close. In that case, Christian education would have to proceed in the home, and maybe even behind closed doors. (It’s happened before, under other statist regimes.) But for now, the best solution is to support our own Christian schools.