The Westview High School math teacher who was ordered to take down banners in his classroom referring to God is getting support from members of the Tea Party in Southern California.
On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of Tea Party protestors surprised school officials by rallying outside Westview High School to voice their displeasure at a recent ruling.
On Sept. 13, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that math teacher Brad Johnson would have to take down banners in his classroom that contain the phrases "In God We Trust" and "God Bless America."
"The 9th Circuit correctly found that teachers have no First Amendment right to espouse their personal religious beliefs in the classroom," said Jack M. Sleeth, Jr. of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, the law firm representing the Poway Unified School District.
But the Tea Party protestors do not see it that way.
"I do not see any way that this is interfering with their education," said parent Wanda Faivre.
Tea Party Organizer Bridget Melson told 10News, "I think what infuriates me most is that we can pass out condoms in school, yet we can't have something that's written on our money in the classrooms."
In 2007, Johnson sued the Poway Unified School District for violating his constitutional rights.
"I'm just saying what our national motto is," said Johnson. "I'm not promoting any religion. There's no scriptures in there. There's no sacred text referred to. Those are just values we have as a nation. They transcend religious values and opinions.
Johnson added, "You can't promote anyone religion, so putting up any kind of text or reference to a particular religious doctrine would not be permitted
the Koran, the Bible, the book of Mormon, anything like that. None of that would be allowed in a public school campus."
Poway Unified School District Superintendent John Collins said, "The 40-page written decision, which included photographs of the actual banners, is very consistent with the legal and educational rationale the district has used since the very beginning of this case. We are pleased with the outcome after more than four years in the courts."
Penny Ranftle, the district board president, told 10News, "We acknowledge that the United States legal process has several levels of appeal, including the Supreme Court, but the district is hoping to move forward without further calls on our limited resources in defending this lawsuit brought against the district."
Johnson said he plans to appeal the court's ruling and take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
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