"A federal judge has ruled that a history teacher at a Southern California public high school violated the First Amendment when he called creationism 'superstitious nonsense' during a classroom lecture. ..."Without going into the merits of the creationism issue, this ruling is significant because it recognizes that there are actually two religion clauses incorporated into the First Amendment to the US Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."The establishment clause (which most people associate with the separation of Church and State) is followed immediately by the free exercise clause, which was the issue in this ruling.
It has never made sense to me that ridiculing religion could be a form of protected speech if promoting it were not protected. Perhaps this is a trend toward even-handed treatment of religion in the public sector.