Documentary 'In God We Teach' Debates Religious Freedom and Free Speech
By Grace Oshiro - Crossmap On June 13, 2012
A new documentary film, 'In God We Teach', was released and made available for free online.
In it, Vic Losick, the director of the film, examines a nation-wide controversial case that was set off by a high school student, Matthew LaClair in Kearny, N.J. after he secretly recorded his history teacher's comment on Jesus and salvation in the class sixx years ago.
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The hour-long movie covers interviews from both sides of LaClair and the history teacher, Davd Paszkiewicz. It also includes the opinions and comments from Stephen Colbert, Alan Dershowits, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Barry Lynn, Kenneth Miller, and John Whitehead.
Matthew LaClair complained to the school board about Paszkiewicz's comment during the history class, where he said, “If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong. 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.” When the board was not prompt to respond his request, he filed a lawsuit to the court.
LaClair, now pursuing to enter NYU or colleges in New York City area, continues to strongly hold onto his position that "the teacher was not teaching but preaching."
"It is violating the constitution of this country," he said.
On the other hand, Paszkiewicz disagrees with LaClair's criticism, saying that he was expressing his opinion based on academic freedom answering to his student's question.
"I am a Christian first, first and the formost. My value system is first God and the country and the family," Paszkiewicz said in the film.
"Psalm 33:12 says, 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.' "
In his documentary website, Losick raises questions such as "Are teachers allowed to express their personal opinions in the classroom?", "Are teachers allowed “academic freedom?" and "And can competing theories be taught alongside evolution in a public classroom?"
The documentary is focused on these questions in the full-length, following the 'separation of church and state' controversy played out in a very public feud between a high school student and his history teacher in a small town in NJ.
"While these religion-based culture wars continue, 'In God We Teach' explores the way in which diverse opinions on the role of religion in the public space conflict and clash in our everyday lives," he said.
Losick told The Christian Post that ultimately he feels that religion belongs to individuals, and every individual has a right to stand by their religious convictions. However, Losick believes government should not be involved.