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A message of support for Matthew LaClair

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Keep the...uh...faith, Matthew! :D

You deserve plaudits (and public support) for your courage to fight for what is right. Mr. Paszkiewicz has evidently forgotten:

a) that he was hired as a schoolteacher, not as a preacher

B) that his Lord and Savior preached love and tolerance, not haterd and intolerance!

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Guest Guest
I just finished reading the NYT article about the controversy in Kearny. Since I've been unable to find an email address for Matthew LaClair, I'm posting here and hoping it will get back to him. I haven't read the other messages relating to this topic, on this board, because I'll probably be so incensed by them that I'll end up yelling at the screen, as apparently the teacher has received more support.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you, Matthew. I think you've done a brave and vitally important thing, and you should be very proud of it. I am really impressed to see so much 'spunk' and initiative in someone your age - congratulations on having a functioning mind! It's a rarity around here these days. You have done the right thing, but I am very sad to say that it won't be enough, in my opinion. If you choose to stay and carry on the good fight, more power to you. If you decide that you're just banging your head against a fundamentalist brick wall, and decide to emigrate, as I did, might I suggest Europe? There are lots of like-minded people over here.

I myself went through a similar problem with a teacher in Biology in the early 70s who refused to teach the theory of evolution in his class...it seemed a bit odd to skip Darwin when discussing biology. My parents both ardently supported my objection to the teacher's blatant disregard for scientific knowledge and by now almost certain fact. I had many heated arguments with the teacher, and would not brook his trying to impose his antique notions on me or anyone else in class...as it turned out, I left that class, without any regrets. The teacher was severely reprimanded, as he should have been, and told that he had to include at least guidance material for students to read if he absolutely insisted on not teaching the theory of evolution. I wanted that idiot fired, period.

I congratulate Matthew on taking a stand against a teacher who is imposing his religious views on students, for which he has no business to be doing in a public school. If this teacher wants to preach his bizarre notions to students, he should do it in a religious school ONLY. I would not want my tax dollars funding some religious prostyletizer in the classroom. This country established freedom of religion to prevent this kind of behavior and for good reason. We are a multi-religious nation where there are multiple interpretations of what is religious orthodoxy. Those who first came to this country faced religious prosecution in their home lands, and they sought a place where they could express their religious tenets without fear of reprisal or retribution. I don't want to see one nut's views shoved down kids throats. What astounds me in this day and age is that there are people who claim to be religious, and yet feel glaring at Matthew, condemning him and threatening him is okay. These are not people of faith, but people of hate and anti-Christian. Would Jesus approve of such behavior? I think most assuredly not. Those who feel such conduct is acceptable better look inside themselves and see whether they are more interested in an agenda than faith. Religion should be a private matter. For centuries in this nation it was. If you claim to be a Christian, then act like one. Detractors of Matthew are not. Zealotry as espoused by Paszkiewicz is narrow minded, limiting and should be vehemently shunned, spurned and punished in public schools.

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Guest Warren

Good stuff Matt

What you have done is fantastic and dont let anyone tell you different, good decent humanist minded people like yourself are the sane future for your country.

Warren

Ireland

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Guest Jeff

Hey Matt, wanted to add a note of support from the west coast of Canada. It gives me hope that there are people like you who stand up for what the founders of your great nation stood for. You show a lot more reason and intelligence (and leadership!) than those in the White House. Keep on keepin' on. :D

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Guest law student

Another message of support - Matthew deserves to be congratulated on his bravery and belief in the Constitution.

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Guest Guest

It is astounding to me that there is any support for turning an AP History class into a religion class. A US history teacher who does not understand one of the basic tenents of the consititution--the clear line of separation between religion and government--is unqualified to teach the subject. Congratulations to this student for having the courage to speak up.

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Guest sebastian

Thanks, Matthew. Last I heard there was separation of church and state in this country. If there weren't guys like you with the balls to stand up for our rights, we'd all be in a lot of trouble.

So thanks from new york.

By the way, this very public move might have you scrambling for a date at prom, but man is it gonna help you get into a great college. :D

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Guest Stay strong, Matthew

Know that there are both theistic and atheistic Americans who stand beside you in the fight against the bigots and hell breathers who will use their power to cram their fallacies of down the throats of a captive audience.

The going is rough because they are certain and smug in their beliefs. Keep in mind that if they allow doubt to creep in, their world falls apart, so they will fight you with everything they have.

BTW, it gets a lot easier when you blow the small-town crap off your back after High School. Get out of Kearny as soon as you graduate, kid. It sounds like the same sort of backwater that's worthy of a rear-view mirror and not much else. These sort of narrow, fundamentalist communities will continue to suffer brain drain in the Information Age, and as the Industrial Age draws to a close in America, they will be reduced to little more than dust. Unfortunately, they, along with their Bible-Thumping leaders, deserve that fate.

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Guest Ron

I whole heartedly agree with Susan. The Teacher should be fired and banned from teaching. I would add however in addition to the school board being fired and fined. the principal should be fired and fined. In addition the muslim student should file suit for having her civil rights violated.

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Thank you, Rev. Bob.  We Christians should be the loudest voices protesting what this teacher has done.  Please, folks, get this through your heads:  it's both illegal and un-American to proselytize for ANY religion in a public school classroom.  America is not a theocracy.

Shame on us for forcing those in the religious minority to remind us of these facts.  Their fight is our fight, too.  It's high time we took back our faith from the fundamentalists who bring Christ's name into disrepute.

Paul, Debra, and Matthew, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however you choose to celebrate the season.  And thank you for your courageous and principled stand.

Leigh Williams

Austin, Texas

To Citizen Williams:

I can see that I needn't ponder how to make my point. I can't improve on what you said in your post. May I add that as a member of a religious minority (Jewish), I am heartened by your words. I should also like to say that if a teacher (even) at my son's religious school said anything comparable to what this teacher uttered (i.e., denegrating the religious beliefs of non_jews) I would take offense. I believe my son would as well, and I certainly would take pride in his stance. I expect Matthew's parents are proud of him for this and other reasons. I am, and I don't even know him. I hope the Kearny community supports him.

By the way, this is a very well put together website.

Robert Koorse, M.D.

West Hartford, CT

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Guest PZ Myers

Excellent work, Matt!

You can look forward to the day you leave Kearny to go to college and join the rest of the "intelligent, educated segment of the culture". You aren't alone, even if it may someday feel that way in a benighted small town that that thinks it's OK for a teacher to proselytize sectarian religion and instruct kids in the such nonsense as dinosaurs on an ark in a world-wide flood.

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Guest M. Dean

David Paszkiewicz is a teacher? And he teaches that evolution is not scientific and that dinosaurs were aboard Noah's Ark? And in a public classroom in a class on the American Constitution, he states that only Christians have a place in heaven?

Why is there any question about what should be done here?

Congratulations to Matthew LaClair, the one person in this whole sorry mess who seems to understand what the Constitution is all about.

M. Dean

Beverly Hills, CA

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Matthew,

I am a retired high school biology teacher from a small town in California. I want to let you know that you did exactly the correct thing by reporting that your history teacher was making comments about his religion that were more like preaching than just stating his views.

Teachers need to be vary careful in the way they state things. They should make it clear when they are stating proven facts and making statements of belief. I personally accept the facts that provide much evidence to support the theory of evolution but I tell my students they are free to believe what they want.... but they need to pass my tests by showing they know the facts I have taught them. There are so much supporting evidence for the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection that it hard to understand why people still do not accept them. Your teacher does have the right to believe what he feels is right but he has no right to force his religious beliefs on his students. I can understand why you were not at all happy about what he was saying.

I feel badly that you are taking so much abuse from people around you. You do not deserve that at all. You should be commended for your courage to stand up and express your thoughts. I commend you for your courage. People should be supporting your right of free speech more than you teacher’s. I support you 100%.

Gene Field

Patterson, CA

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Guest An American

This teacher, who has every right to believe what he does, should better understand that we live in a plural society and respect that opposing views are not only likely but an absolute right of each American that attends public school. To state that a student is going to hell for any reason in a classroom is a huge deriliction of duty as an educator. His last name implies either Polish Jews or Catholics immigrated to the US, most likely fleeing some type of religious persecution. It doesn't appear he understands their plight or desire for freedom from government imposed belief.

I'm certain that elsewhere on this message board an obvious point has been approached: What if the teacher was Muslim and was approving the jihad against the infidels? If this behavior is allowed then realize that in a plural society the Muslim teacher has the EXACT same right to spew his religious belief to his students without reprisal. It is a very slippery slope that this teacher obviously cares little about sliding down and the fact that he has not been suspended or released from duty (yet) means the school district cares just as little. Again, the Muslim teacher would have most likely been ousted first then investigated.

Good teachers are difficult to find and per what I've read he is a good teacher. I'm certain there are many christian academies he is qualified to teach in and can intertwine his religious viewpoint with scientific fact. Put an end to this quickly Kearny. The last job lost won't be and shouldn't be just this teacher's. This is shameful. Give the boy an "A" for obviously paying attention in civics class and admonish the teacher who apparently skipped it.

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Guest Matt

Matthew,

I'm glad to hear a few of our citizens seem concerned with their Constitutional rights, even if our government seems a bit lax on them lately. It took a lot of guts to do what you did. Keep your chin up, and good luck with the whole prom thing. Cheers.

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Guest DC Reader

Advice for the teacher: Shut up and Teach! You may not believe this, but the world is millions of years old; therefore there is a wealth of material for you to impart to the students in your history class. No need to browbeat them into believing the same things you do. Just do the job that taxpayers are paying you for.

Advice to Matt: High school isn't forever. It may take them thirty years of growing up, but all of your classmates will someday realize that you did the right thing.

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Guest Ani

matthew, i totally support what you did. your teacher was way out of line with what he said. the classroom is no place to preach religion, especially such an intolerant religious message.

-ani l., 20, ithaca ny

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Guest James Allen

Matt,

Plain and simple, you are right and your teacher is wrong. Your teacher is a preacher who does not belong in your school. As you can tell, he has no answers for your questions and he certainly does not understand what science is. You are trying to stop a disservice to your fellow students and the community at large. Keep it up and make sure you have fun in high school.

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Thanks for doing the right thing, Matthew.

What that teacher was doing was probably illegal, I don't know, I'm no lawyer.

But I am a teacher and it was certainly unethical and a violation of professional integrity.

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Guest mmurphy21

Just wanted you to know that you have lots of supporters. You went through all the proper channels and got no satisfaction so you and your family are justified in your actions. Thanks for your efforts.

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Guest Dennis

B) Matt Stick to your guns. You may be only one person, but in this day of widespread, usergenerated news, an individual can have awesome power, esp. if his cause is right.

I can give you an example from the recent election. A gent with whom I happen to have the pleasure of working, stood up an said some very unflattering things about a certain Virginia Senatorial candidate. They were true and he took plenty of heat for his outspoken courage. That candidate was NOT elected even though he was the darling of the Republican establishment(I'm a Republican, by the way).

Ever hear of " The Butterfly Effect"; a buttefly in China flaps its wings and a chain of resulting effects produces a gale in Florida.

In your case it's a butterfly in NJ who just might cause a gale in DC. Be a butterfly, an IRON BUTTERFLY. Maybe we'll get an entirely new species in this country.

Dennis

dennis.roberts@ahss.org

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