N.J. Preacher/Teacher Crossed Line, Says Student

A New Jersey high school student recorded a teacher telling students that those who do not accept Jesus deserve eternal damnation.

In mid-November, the Jersey Journal reported that Matthew LaClair, a 16-year-old junior at Kearny High School, recorded history instructor David Paszkiewicz offering his students a litany of religious opinions.

LaClair told the newspaper that Paszkiewicz, also a local Baptist pastor, spent more class time talking about his religious beliefs than American history. LaClair’s recordings revealed that the teacher told his students that if they do not accept Jesus, “you belong in hell.” He also belittled evolution and the “Big Bang.”

“I would never have suspected something like this went on in a public school,” said LaClair.

The student’s decision to go public about the situation raised the ire of some of his peers. According to the newspaper, some of LaClair’s fellow students taunted him after learning about his action. LaClair insisted that he only recorded his teacher’s religious harangues because no one would believe his charges if he didn’t have evidence.

School officials have promised to address the problem. Superintendent Robert Mooney called Paszkiewicz “a wonderful teacher” but said “corrective action” would be taken.

Paszkiewicz denied lecturing students on religion, until confronted with the recordings. According to LaClair, the teacher later responded to the revelations by questioning the student’s religious perspective.

“Maybe you’re an atheist,” LaClair quoted Paszkiewicz as saying. “You caught the big Christian fish.”