BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
Club' targeted on campus
Student sues after officials remove
Massachusetts high-school student has filed a lawsuit claiming school
officials removed his promotional posters for an extracurricular club
because they contained a conservative political viewpoint.
Chris Bowler says he formed the Conservative Club at Hudson High School
in Hudson, Mass., to balance classroom discussions he describes as
said, for example, in one class President Bush was accused of being a
deserter. In another, a picture of Bush being burned in effigy was
student contends the school violated his First Amendment rights when it
removed seven of 10 posters advertising the club.
officials argue the posters were "anti-gay" and promoted violence.
Whitehead of the Rutherford
which is representing Bowler, insists the posters merely represented
"traditional values" and asserts the school must abide by its
commitment to free speech, noting Hudson High School is one of only 11
pilot schools in the U.S. that participate in the "First Amendment
I think it's hypocritical -- it's a double-standard," Whitehead said,
according to AgapePress. "It's a school that has a particular
viewpoint. Obviously the people high up in the school, the school
officials, have that viewpoint. They want to make sure that students
hear one viewpoint. And the thing about Chris Bowler's Conservative
Club is he was giving another viewpoint, and obviously they didn't like
believes Bowler has a "very solid First Amendment case."
hearing is scheduled in Boston June 9.
think if the court determines that this was really discrimination based
on political viewpoint -- and [if] the court agrees with us -- we can
win the case," Whitehead said. "Generally courts have [agreed on this].
Your more liberal judges tend to side with cases like this;
conservative judges, to be honest with you, are a little more
fall, school officials officially recognized the Conservative Club,
which qualified it to meet on school property during non-instructional
time, have access to school facilities for club-related activities and
place posters in authorized locations throughout the school.
club chose to affiliate with a national organization, High School Conservative
Clubs of America,
or HSCCA, which aims "to support the United States Constitution, uphold
the Bill of Rights, advocate the moral standards of our Founding
Fathers, encourage traditional American values, and assist students to
form chartered conservative clubs in high schools throughout the
Friday, Nov. 12, members put up 10 posters with information about the
club and a reference to HSCCA's website. By the following Monday,
school officials had removed seven of the club posters, alleging they
promoted violence and were anti-gay because they referenced the HSCCA
website, school officials said, included references to visual
depictions of beheadings of hostages by Iraqi insurgents and terrorists.
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BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
Student barred from
singing 'Awesome God'
Family sues district over prohibition at
elementary talent show
Jersey family is suing a school district for barring a second-grader
from singing the Christian song "Awesome God" at a talent show.
school district officials said 8-year-old Olivia Turton could not
perform the song because its religious content was inappropriate for a
Maryann and Robert Turton, claiming the action violated the First
Amendment, are represented by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.
school's singling out of our client for censorship is a blatant
violation of the First Amendment," said Jeremy Tedesco, ADF litigation
staff counsel. "Contrary to what the school district thinks, the
Establishment Clause does not give schools license to cleanse private
religious speech from school events. That's called viewpoint
discrimination, which clearly violates the Constitution."
Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Chesler denied ADF a
temporary restraining order, allowing the school to prevent Olivia
Turton from performing the song at the "Frenchtown Idol" talent show
student instead sang a song from the Broadway hit "Annie" with her
banned song, by the late Rich Mullins, includes the lyrics: "Our God is
an awesome God/He reigns from heaven above."
noted the talent show included students dancing to "Objection" by pop
star Shakira and students singing "You
Give Love a Bad Name,"
by the rock band Bon Jovi. The show also featured students dressed as
witches performing the boiling cauldron scene from the play "Macbeth."
made every attempt to secure this brave little girl's right to sing
'Awesome God' at her school talent show," said Tedesco. "Even though we
were not successful at this early stage, we are confident we will
prevail as the case moves forward."
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LAW OF THE LAND
over homosexuality column
On own time, man posted anti-'gay' article
insurance giant says didn't reflect its values
manager with Allstate
has sued the insurance giant, alleging the company, which financially
supports homosexual advocacy groups, fired him solely because he wrote
a column posted on several websites that was critical of same-sex
marriage and espoused his Christian beliefs.
Matt Barber was a manager in Allstate's Corporate Security Division,
its investigative arm, at the Fortune 100 company's headquarters in
Northbrook, Ill. Besides working for the insurance provider, Barber was
and is a professional
heavyweight boxer, a jazz drummer and a Web commentator. His
columns have appeared on TheConservativeVoice.com, MensNewsDaily.com
was written and posted in December, it wasn't until Jan. 31 that Barber
was called into a meeting with two Human Resources officials, one of
whom Barber says "slapped down" a printed copy of the column in front
of him and asked if he had written it.
the piece, Barber confirmed he had written it on his own time, at his
home and on his own computer. Barber claims he was told, "Here at
Allstate we have a very diverse community."
says the Human Resources assistant vice president told him the column
didn't reflect Allstate's view and that he was suspended with pay.
Barber was immediately ushered off company grounds – "which was
humiliating," the former employee said.
explained to Allstate that the article was a reflection of my personal
Christian beliefs, and that I had every right to both write it and to
have it published," Barber told WND. "I further explained that I had
written the article while at home on my own time, that I never
mentioned Allstate's name and that I neither directly nor indirectly
suggested that Allstate shared my Christian beliefs or my views on
days later, on Feb. 3, Barber, who had worked for Allstate for five
years, says he got a call informing him he was fired "for writing the
article," he said. Now, with the help of the Christian Law Association
and David Gibbs III, who represented Terri Schiavo's family in the
final weeks of her life, Barber is challenging Allstate in federal
to an investigation by the state of Illinois' Department of Employment
Security related to Barber's claim for unemployment benefits, an
organization – likely a "gay"-rights group – complained to Allstate
about the column. But how did the group connect Barber to the insurance
company? It turns out one site that posted the column,
MensNewsDaily.com, added to the bio
line on the article the fact that Barber worked for Allstate.
says he did not include that fact in the original column submission but
that the site "disclosed that without my knowledge or consent."
According to Barber, he is somewhat well-known in the boxing field in
Chicago, and Allstate would sometimes tout the fact that he worked for
columnist told WND even if he had included a reference to Allstate in
his bio, "I wasn't intimating that I was representing Allstate or that
these were the views of Allstate."
stressed to the unemployment office that he did not intend for the
affiliation to be included in the bio. Allstate argued to the agency
that Barber should not be given unemployment, but upon investigation,
the agency agreed with Barber's contention and ruled he was entitled to
the agency's report: "The claimant was discharged from Allstate
Insurance Company because an outside organization had complained about
an article he had written while on his own time."
state agency also ruled Barber did not engage in misconduct, saying,
"The term misconduct means the deliberate and willful violation of a
reasonable rule or policy of the employer. … In this case, the
claimant's action which resulted in his discharge was not deliberate
a violation of 'natural law'
the commentary piece, which Barber refers to as "the article that got
me fired," he makes several arguments against same-sex marriage.
Barber: "Marriage between one man and one woman, and the nuclear family
have forever been cornerstones of civilized society. Regrettably, there
are at present, many within the militant homosexual lobby who wish to
take a sledge hammer to those cornerstones – many who hope to undermine
both the historical and contemporary reality of marriage and family –
many who, through judicial fiat, aim to circumvent the Constitution,
the legislative process, and the overwhelming will of the people in an
effort to redefine marriage. Accordingly, the unsolicited, oxymoronic
and spurious _expression 'same-sex marriage' has been forced into
who holds both a law degree and a masters in public policy, uses
anatomy to argue against homosexual behavior.
one to believe that homosexual behavior, the act of sodomy in
particular, follows the biological order of things," wrote Barber, "one
must ignore the fact that sodomy violates natural law – you know …
wrong plumbing … square hole/round peg. The whole thing really is a
testament to man's creativity. Give us something good, and we'll bend
over backwards to twist it into something else."
– known in the boxing world as Matt "Bam Bam" Barber – says Allstate
has a decidedly "pro-homosexual" philosophy, requiring employees to
undergo "diversity training" and offering domestic partnership
training, Barber says, "is really indoctrination hostile toward
thousands of employees' Christian beliefs."
has donated money to homosexual-advocacy organizations, including the
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the LAMBDA Legal
Defense and Education Fund. A notice about the Allstate foundation says
funds are given to "nonprofit organizations that are related to
tolerance, diversity and inclusion."
says he hopes consumers who hold traditional values will stop
those who do, Barber said, "You are helping to support an organization
that brazenly and illegally discriminates against religious employees
who do not blindly and silently toe the extremist, liberal line on
official company policy – policy that is not just overtly
pro-homosexual, but is demonstrably anti-family."
the lead attorney on the case.
have Fortune 100 companies like Allstate firing people for expressing
their sincerely held religious beliefs and even their personal
viewpoints on their own time demonstrates just how out of kilter things
have gotten," Gibbs told WND.
aggressively pushes and promotes the homosexual agenda in the name of
tolerance, but the minute someone speaks up with what would be
considered the traditional moral-values viewpoint, the tolerance
disappears and it results in a termination."
rhetorically asked if Allstate would take the same action against
someone who put forth a pro-homosexual viewpoint.
answer is absolutely not," he said. "The tolerance is only running one
discriminatory action violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Gibbs
Gibbs: "The law was intended to make sure people of faith didn't have
to leave their religion or viewpoints at the workplace stairs."
compared the situation to that of racial discrimination.
like Allstate can't go in and say, 'We've discovered your ethnicity and
we're going to fire you,' I don't believe Allstate should be able to go
in and say, 'We've discovered your anti-homosexuality viewpoint and
we're going to fire you.'"
complaint claims Barber was "terminated from his employment and
discriminated against by Defendants, with respect to his compensation,
terms, conditions or privileges of employment because he expressed
during non-work hours his sincerely held religious beliefs."
of the complaint filed in court discusses a 2003 business trip to
Lisbon, Portugal, Barber took to attend the annual Chairman's
Conference with hundreds of other Allstate employees.
to the suit, Barber witnessed on the trip his boss' boss, Ben Tarver,
assistant vice president for corporate security, "engaging in various
public displays of affection with a young female physician who had been
hired by Allstate to serve as the on-call physician for the conference
Barber's report of the assistant vice president's alleged behavior to
his immediate supervisor, the ex-employee says Tarver began harassing
him and treating him in an "abusive manner."
eventually filed a sexual harassment/retaliation complaint against
Tarver with the Human Resources Department at Allstate.
pointed out the irony of the head of the agency that investigates
company-policy violations and fraud allegedly breaking the rules of
a married man," Barber explained. "It made me very uncomfortable,
especially because we investigate sexual harassment."
believes the whistleblower action was a motive in his being fired and
that officials were looking for a reason to terminate him. It was the
very people to whom he had reported Tarver's alleged misconduct who
confronted him about the online article.
is very fair'
Quiles, media relations spokesperson for Allstate, told WND the company
could not comment on a lawsuit its lawyers have not yet seen. According
to Barber's attorneys, the company was to be served with the suit
is very fair and has a very good reputation for being inclusive,"
the company's policy to maintain a working environment free of any type
of discrimination and harassment that may affect an employee's terms or
conditions of employment."
Quiles: "We cannot disclose or discuss details related to the former
employee's termination, nor can we comment on a lawsuit we have not yet
says his termination from Allstate came at a stressful time in his life
with his wife just having given birth after a problem pregnancy.
recently described the situation in a narrative:
add insult to injury, about two weeks before I was fired, my wife,
Sarah, and I delivered our third child in four years following a highly
stressful at-risk pregnancy. Allstate was fully aware of our new
arrival and that Sarah was still recovering from her C-section surgery
when they callously snatched away both our medical insurance and our
means of providing for our young family.
of this notwithstanding, my personal faith and optimism remain intact.
I always knew that people were persecuted in the workplace for their
religious beliefs, but I never imagined it would happen to my family
and me. We’re losing our home, and we may be forced into bankruptcy;
but I know that somehow, God will provide. I believe it’s crucial to
take a stand for truth, even if that stand results in suffering in the
lawsuit, which was filed May 26, seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, as well as attorneys' fees.
initial status hearing on the federal lawsuit is set for July 5 in the
Illinois Northern District Court.
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