"Irvine International Film Festival is Full of Hidden Gems" gives an overview of the inaugural event running through Monday at Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine, but more advance word is in order for Vic Losick's In God We Teach. Though it mostly chronicles a New Jersey high school student outing his history teacher proselytizing for Jesus, the documentary also revisits Mission Viejo's infamous "Jesus Glasses" case.
And, speaking of visits, the teacher at the center of the Capistrano Valley High School incident that eventually landed in courts is scheduled to stop by Saturday's 5 p.m. screening of In God We Teach. (The case also produced a fine cover story by my former colleague Daffodil J. Altan that you can pluck from the OC Weekly James Corbett Case Archives.)
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European history teacher James Corbett has told the filmmaker that he intends to bring along students from three campus Christian clubs and another called Freethinking Agnostic and Atheist Kinship (love their doughnut sales). Losick, an Emmy-winning producer/director, invited Corbett to join him on a panel following the screening. And an ungodly time was had by all.
For those who were under a rock (or locked in the confessional), Chad Farnan revealed that while he was a student in Corbett's advancement placement class in the fall of 2007, his teacher made remarks disparaging Christianity, including, "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth." Corbett later justified that by claiming he routinely tries to spark classroom discussion, no easy feat in a boring-ass AP European history class.But Farnan, with the backing of Christian legal groups, wound up suing Corbett. Rulings favored both sides before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided in Corbett's favor last August.
Make no mistake, the real star of In God We Teach is Matthew LaClair, who secretly recorded his Kearny, N.J., public school teacher David Paszkiewicz saying of Jesus Christ, "He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven. You reject that and you belong in hell." (Or New Jersey.) When LaClair received no redress from his local school board, he took his recordings to the New York Times. Cue the Holy War.