Gay Activism and the Christian Persecution Complex: A Tale of Two Legal Judgments

“Courts rule it’s okay to ridicule Christians, but not homosexuals”. Thus breathlessly proclaimed the chain email that landed in my inbox, complete with links about a couple of cases that allegedly substantiated this claim. To which I responded with a big yawn, having heard this kind of tactic many times before. But let’s take a look at these epsiodes anyway, shall we? Their juxtaposition reveals one of the major caveats of comparing two events – namely, that no two things are exactly alike, and sometimes the differences are more illuminating than –and actually undercut — the similarities. It also speaks gigabytes about the Supposed Persecution Of Christians That’s Really Persecution By Christians Syndrome.

One case involves a former high school student in California named Chad Farnan, who sued his former science teacher, James Corbett, for violating his First Amendment rights in the classroom. And just how exactly did Corbett do this? By making derogatory statements about religion. No, seriously — by exercising his own First Amendment rights, Corbett supposedly was depriving Farnan of his. But wait, it gets even better.

Farnan recorded Corbett’s comments, and presented them to the court as evidence of his teacher’s malice. Here, presumably, is one of the worst:

“Aristotle was a physicist. He said, ‘no movement without movers.’  And he argued that, you know there sort of has to be a God. Of course that’s nonsense. I mean, that’s what you call deductive reasoning, you know. And you hear it all the time with people who say, ‘Well, if all of this stuff that makes up the universe is here, something must have created it.’ Faulty logic.  Very faulty logic.”

Faulty logic??? Quick, call me an attorney. And here’s another one:

“Those are the two possibilities: [the universe] was created out of nothing or it’s always been here. Your call as to which one of those notions is scientific and which one is magic. . . I mean, all I’m saying is that, you know, the people who want to make the argument that God did it, there is as much evidence that God did it as there is that there is a gigantic spaghetti monster living behind the moon who did it.”

Spaghetti monster??? That’s a comic analogy. I smell a settlement for millions. And try this one:

“What was it that Mark Twain said? ‘Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool”

Okay, that does it. It’s no longer a mere civil case. Quoting Twain is a display of capital literacy, and this guy needs to be tried as a criminal.

There was in fact,  a total of one instance cited in which Corbett may have crossed the line:

“When you put your Jesus glasses on, you can’t see the truth.”

But while this observation certainly could have been made with more finesse, it was essentially quite true; religionists often allow their dogma to blind them to scientific fact. And note that while the lawsuit evidently implied that “you” was meant to address Farnan directly — indeed he claims that Corbett frequently ridiculed him specifically — he has produced as evidence only comments that Corbett (who, incidentally, describes himself as a “smorgasbord Catholic”)  made about religion and/or religious people in general. But nobody else in the classroom seems to have been offended enough to file a lawsuit.

The real question is whether it was appropriate for Corbett to riff about science so much at all in a course on history. But that’s a matter for the school administrators to determine, not a court of law. This lawsuit sets a precedent whereby any student who doesn’t like what he’s being taught can just sue to stop it if his parents have enough dough. And the purpose of education is not just to tell kids what they’ve already been conditioned to hear.

Nonetheless, the courts originally ruled in favor of the plaintiff; it was the overturning of this decision by an appeals court that supposedly constitutes declaring that it’s “okay to ridicule Christians”. Note also that one claim made by Farnan’s lawyers was that Corbett was violating the First Amendment by advocating the “religion” of atheism. As we mentioned in the previous post about the Christian Persecution Complex in regard to Chick-Fil-A, all it takes to make your case is to redefine your terms.

And presto, Chad Farnan became a hero and appeared on Fox as a guest of Bill O’Reilly (who, coincidentally, Corbett mentioned is a liar) who commended his courage and lamented that he is only one of many because this kind of thing supposedly is happening in schools all across America. (Was he trying to validate the “liar” label?) Not bad for a kid who, according to Corbett, was a slacker in class.

The other ruling, or settlement,  in question involved two lawsuits filed by 6 — not one, but six — current and former students in Minnesota in challenge to school district policy that did not afford adequate protection to students against bullying for being gay or being suspected of being gay. The lawsuits were prompted because of six other students who had been driven to suicide by harassment from other students.

Okay, come on now. Do we really need to go any farther with this? Six gay students committed suicide. How many Christians committed suicide among the lawyer-retaining students at Chad Farnan’s high school? These gay (or presumed gay, or suspected gay, or falsely accused of being gay for liking ballet) youngsters were teased, taunted and attacked repeatedly — as individuals, not generically. They were shoved against lockers, they had their genitals grabbed, they were pissed on. Know any student who’s endured things like this just for being a Christian?

Nor is Minnesota unique in that regard. All over the country, so many gay teens have been driven to suicide that it’s practically an epidemic. And among Christians who are not gay? Well, we’ll get back to you on that one.

Nor is it just a matter of suicide. Sometimes gays (students and otherwise) are brutally attacked and even killed for being gay. Remember Matthew Shepard? The Good Christians from Westboro Baptist Church did, picketing his memorial service with signs reading “No tears for queers” and “Fag Matt in Hell”. Know of any Christians who met his fate because of their beliefs?

Yet now my Christian friends evidently want me to believe that a court’s refusal to participate in a kid’s scheme to settle a score with a former teacher is on a par with efforts to prevent that kind of violence against gays in the future. Which prompts me to ask, as I often do, just what planet they’ve been living on.


  1. If we had more teachers like James Corbett we probably wouldn’t be quite the laughing stock of the world when it comes to rejecting evolution.

  2. You are absolutely right that the two cases are not equivalent, and I don’t think a court of law is the place to have settled the first one, anyway. Nevertheless, Corbett was way out of line. Remember, these are teenagers. They need to be taught critical thinking skills, but starting off by insulting their world view and making them defensive is not the way to do it.

    My personal beliefs about the absence or presence of something that might be called “God” have nothing to do with my everyday work as a scientist. The evidence is what the evidence is. I happen to think we don’t have any tools that can test for the existence of “God”, so it is not a topic I need to address. That is not the same as saying that because current knowledge does not prove God’s existence, then God does not exist. Have some humility, people! You don’t know everything!

    And James Corbett doesn’t know everything. He would be a better teacher if he left his opinions about religion out of his classroom.

    • You may be right that Corbett was out of line. But I’m not so sure that he was “way” out of line. I’d need to see a lot more evidence than what the plaintiff presented. As I indicated, my biggest beef with him would be that he was rambling about science in a history classroom. That sounds out of line, but it’s hard to be certain without hearing it in context. I’ve seen little, if any, in his remarks that I would call insulting. And on the basis of what I have seen, I’d argue that he was doing more to foster critical thinking among those teenagers than teachers who just regurgitate what’s in the textbooks. If he says it’s illogical to believe in a First Cause in the universe, they can respond in one of several ways: (1) They can decide that his argument is valid. (2) They can ignore his argument. (3) They can come up with an argument that, at least for their own purposes, refutes him. (4) They can react defensively and have Daddy call a lawyer. At least half of those responses entail critical thinking. Speaking from my own experience as a student (and I realize not everyone’s is the same), I found that the most effective teachers were those who (figuratively) whacked me across my ADD ass with some rather abrasive comments that challenged my worldview. Of course, there’s a big difference between saying something that students might take offense at and deliberately singling out a student for ridicule. And contrary to what Farnan alleged, I see no evidence that Corbett crossed that line.

      • 1st, I’m a nonreligious person but I see something wrong with gay/lesbian behaviors. I also see something wrong with sex change maimings which should be abolished. But whether you’re Chrisitan, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, Jain, nonreligious (as this poster’s mostly become) or even an Atheist (though Atheists are less likely to share my view), then you must be against this.

        Laramie Project Propaganda must not be in schools. Movies such as Milk must not be shown in schools. If homosexual/lesbian groups want to honor Harvey B. Milk and Matthew or as I call him Methew Wayne Shepard, then it’s their business. But when they require schools push their views on children, then it’s wrong. If Harvey B. Milk, Laramie Project propaganda comes to your school, then tell truths about who both were.

        1st to repeat, they must make abolish sex changes as transexuals are abominations worse than homosexuals. Judy Peck Shepard, Laramie Project, Shepard Foundation and Big Island Chronicle’s Squaw Tiffany Camille Edwards Hunt all see nothing wrong with surgically maiming a person to make them fake members of opposite sex.

        Michael E. Glatze has said that the 2 heros for homosexual groups are cowards Methew Wayne Shepard and homosexual statutory rapist Harvey Bernard Milk. Judy Peck Shepard makes $5,000 to $20,000 per speech. Shepard Foundation which includes Methew Wayne Shepard’s friend Jason Christopher Marsden (Fartsden) and 1 of Methew Wayne Shepard’s friends Romaine Patterson all make money off of Methew Wayne Shepard. Laramie Project’s interest is money.homosexuals/lesbian groups, they are not interested in what the truth is about homosexual statutory rapist Harvey B. Milk, but $.

        Before October 1998 day, Methew Wayne Shepard was regarded by many including friends as moody, obnoxious and selfish. Methew Wayne Shepard a drug junky who mixed Ecstasy with antidepressants. Methew Wayne Shepard chose Univeristy of Wyoming out of all colleges but then insulted the college and Laramie. Metthew Wayne Shepard even rudely cut in line in front of handciapped while shopping-his excuse was his depression which Okay, only he knew and possibly he didn’t intend this, but depression imparing him is no excuse. In August 1998, 2 months before his killing Methew Wayne Shepard falsely accused a man of a crime-homosexual gang rape which was disproven by medical tests because nothing had happened. Excuses made by Shepard’s friends and family is his depression, PTSD, etc. Truth is before Metthew Wayne Shepard was killed he was viewed as obnoxious, moody and selfish but after he has killed by 2 men, then he got hero or queero worship.

        With Harvey B. Milk homosexual/lesbian groups such as Laramie Project, Shepard Foundation’s Executive President Jason Christopher Marsden (Fartsden) and farting Squaw Tiffany Camille Edwards Hunt of Big Island Chronicle all see nothing wrong with Harvey B. Milk committing homosexual statutory rape on a 16 year old boy and there’s a holiday after him in California. Harvey Bernard Milk committed homosexual statutory rape on a 16 year old boy in 1964 for which the California legal system didn’t prosecute him for and Harvey B. Milk in 1978 should‘ve been a convicted felon.

        The man who killed Harvey B. Milk was Daniel James (DJ) White & DJ White was a Vietnam War Sergeant, ex SF cop/fireman who once saved the life of a woman and baby from a burning building. Daniel James (DJ) White’s a normal straight man and good Catholic married to a woman and a good father to his children. In 1978, DJ White shot and killed both Harvey B. Milk and SF Mayor George Moscone. With Harvey B. Milk, I have no sympathy for Harvey B. Milk because the law didn’t punish him for what he did. Both Harvey Bernard Milk and Matthew or as I call him METHEW Wayne Shepard have become 2 icons for homosexual groups but both mistreated others.

  3. When I took public speaking in high school, lo, these many years ago, we discussed controversial topics for the very purpose of debate. If the teacher moderates such a conversation – Why do you think this is or is not an effective argument? What are your sources for the facts you cite? – this can be a great teaching tool. But when the teacher, an authority figure, is on one side of the argument, an argument that cannot be proved, a student could easily feel targeted. (Nevertheless, suing? You can’t just talk it out in the principal’s office?)

    I may be overly sensitive about this because I was one of those students targeted by a teacher, not because of my religious or political beliefs, but because I was from the south, and this was provincial New England, 1967. I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to him; a lot of kids wouldn’t be.

    • I certainly understand what you’re saying. I was a target in school, not so much by any one teacher, but in general because I was (among other things) nonreligious (I also was often falsely suspected of being gay), and in those days religion was very much a part of public school life. (I was, one might say, the anti-Farnan). I kept my lack of religious conformity under my hat, or else I surely would have been the target of even more bullying. Consequently, I never felt particularly singled out in class if a teacher said, “Well, clearly the universe had to have an origin, so God must have created it.” I just silently figured out the holes in his logic. My point is that no one — student or teacher — need make an issue of his or her personal convictions about religion. But having one’s convictions challenged in a classroom, unless done in a bullying manner, is an intellectually healthy thing.

      • Addition to my post. Sex abuse especially homosexual rape in youth is major cause of homosexuality/transexuality-deny it is dishonest, delusional or both. It remains to be seen how many of Gerald Arthur (Jerry) Sandusky’s victims think they’re gay because of this. Homosexual/lesbian sexual behaviors are bad for health often as result of childhood sex abuse though there possibly other causes such as birth defect though they’ve not conclusively proven gayism’s inborn. 33% of gays report homosexual rape in youth. Many gays and lesbians who commit suicide do so because they often were childhood sex abuse victims and many have other copathologies such as antisocial conduct, drugs, etc. I’ve never heard a straight person blame childhood sex abuse for reason a man is married to a woman & has kids with her but I’ve heard some gays & lesbians blame bad things such as childhood sex abuse. Whatever causes, it’s best for gays/lesbians to be celibate until a cure is found for homosexuality.

  4. I read Book of Matt by Stephen Jimenez about Methew Wayne Shepard. The book discloses ugly truths of who the victim was-most of it old news such as him being a junky (old news), but the new information is that the victim was a drug dealer. Stephen Jimenez who is homose interviewed over 100 witnesses and found ugly truths about the victim. While Stephen Jimenez has a pro-homose bias and tried to be sympathetic to the victim, he wrote ugly truths including in Shepard’s family.

    -Metthew W. Shepard was himself a victim of child molestation and when Metthew W. Shepard was 15 years old, he was arrested for molesting 2 neighborhood 8 year old boys-M.W. Shepard got counseling for it.

    M.W. Shepard in August 1998 (2 months before his death) attempted indecent exposure on a Cody bartender and bartender defended himself by decking M.W. Shepard. The next day, M.W. Shepard falsely accused the bartender of homosexual gang rape. When medical tests disproved M.W. Shepard, the excuse Methew W. Shepard gave to cops was that he was drunk, had PTSD and could not remember. M.W. Shepard was also once banned from a bar after a drunk M.W. Shepard committed assault and battery on the bouncer by grabbing bouncer’s crotch against will. M.W. Shepard should have been arrested and convicted by jury for those 2 incidents.

    -M.W. Shepard knew his killer A.J. McKinney and there are witnesses who saw both of them together numerous almost a year before he was killed. M.W. Shepard had a secret life as a drug courier/dealer. You don’t always know the secrets friends and family have. If a person is a drug dealer, then they are usually not going to tell their friends and family that they do this. But for me, him being killed and why he was killed is a minor topic. While homose groups complain about Stephen Jimenez saying the murder case is complicated and possibly not a hate crime, I think that is incidental-main reason homose groups are offended by Stephen Jimenez’s book is because he talked about the ugly truths about who M.W. Shepard was.

    The weak criticism people make is that Stephen Jimenez interviewed drug dealers, junkies, and that he went into bars where drugs were sold, to learn about M.W. Shepard being a drug dealer. That is a weak criticism because that is who Stephen Jimenez would have to interview to learn this. M.W. Shepard being a junky is old news as he had told his friends such as Tina LaBrie about his drug problems and M.W. Shepard’s lover Tristan (Ted) Henson admits that M.W. Shepard used drugs and that he knew 1 of his killers. M.W. Shepard being a drug dealer was something he likely kept secret from his friends and family because honestly, if a person is selling drugs, they usually aren’t going to tell their friends and family that they commit this crime. Even if Metthew W. Shepard did tell his friends and family that he sold drugs, don’t think his family will admit this ugly truth about him, as they had tried to hide the fact that Methew Wayne Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling for it.

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