Teacher: 'You Belong in Hell.' School Board: 'Stuff Happens.'
by jrb1968, Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 07:25:50 AM EST
Cross-posted from Blue Jersey
Last month, we discussed the matter of a Kearny high school teacher David Paszkiewicz telling his students "you belong in hell" if you "reject" Christianity. This morning, the New York Timesfollows up on the story.
To recap, the student, Matt LeClair, "felt uncomfortable with Mr. Paszkiewicz's statements in the first week, and taped eight classes starting Sept. 13 out of fear that officials would not believe the teacher had made the comments."
The class started on Sept. 11, and Matthew quickly grew concerned. "The first couple of days I had him, he had already begun discussing his religious point of view.... It wasn't even just his point of view, it went beyond that to say this is the right way, this is the only way. The way he said it, I wasn't sure how far he was going to go."The recordings captured statements like these.
"If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong," Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. "He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he's saying, `Please, accept me, believe.' If you reject that, you belong in hell."Paszkiewicz also claimed "that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah's ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven." He also singled out a Muslim student to tell her that she is definitely going to hell.
As of now, Matthew's request "for an apology and for the teacher to correct any false statements he had made in class, particularly those related to science," have been ignored. A lawyer for the Kearny school board told the Times,
The teacher is monitored, and his or her evaluation could be noted ... adding that if these steps did not work, the teacher could be reprimanded, suspended or, eventually, fired.Okay, but Matthew has recieved a death threat and been accused of violating the teacher's right to free speech and religion.
As for the request that Mr. Paszkiewicz correct his statements that conflict with the district's science curriculum, "Sometimes, the more you dwell on the issue, the more you continue the issue.... Sometimes, it's better to stop any inappropriate behavior and move on."
Paszkiewicz was a history teacher. Telling minors -- students he was capable of disciplining and whose grades he controlled -- that they were going to hell if they didn't think the way he did.
Clearly, Paszkiewicz was in the wrong, and Matthew was in the right. The school's notion that things will sort themselves out puts them in the wrong as well. The school board should affirm that Matthew did the right thing, rather than let their silence paint him as an agitator.