Thursday, May 08, 2008


An Object Lesson In the Constitution

I've mentioned John Freshwater before. He is a middle school science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, who has refused to remove his personal Bible from view on his classroom desk. That is, in and of itself, arguably not a violation of the First Amendment's separation of church and state. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg of contempt Freshwater shows for our foundational principles, as where he holds that separation of church and state "is a fraud." He has been busily trying to breach that separation by posting the Ten Commandments on the door of his classroom and teaching his students about the "holes in evolution" and intelligent design.

Now those actions have come home to roost:

Beth Murdoch, whose daughter attends the middle school, is one of the parents who has expressed concerns about the sometimes hostile environment at the middle school.

“You’re either for Mr. Freshwater or you’re against Mr. Freshwater. There’s no in between,” Murdoch said. “In the kids’ minds, I think, it is just the Bible issue. And who is going to go against the Bible? Nobody. But it seems like the ‘Christians’ are using that as an excuse to gang up on the ‘atheists.’

“My daughter Arie told me about a Jewish child who brought his Torah to school when other students brought Bibles in support of Freshwater,” she continued. “He thought he was supporting freedom of religious expression, and the other kids just ripped him apart. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked. ‘You can’t support Mr. Freshwater, you’re Jewish.’ So they don’t get it.

They not only don't "get it," they are a source of irony so exquisite it should be a controlled substance. Even within the ranks of Christians this is turning ugly:

“This whole thing has divided the community,” Hamilton added. “I think a lot of kids who don’t blindly support Freshwater have decided, ‘Boy, friends that we thought we had, are not friends.’ It’s even coming out on the soccer field. ... This is the United States of America. You’re supposed to accept everybody for who they are, and none of this is supposed to matter. That is very frustrating to me. As a Christian, you shouldn’t judge anybody. ... We all believe in different things. I personally might not agree with the way you believe or the way you practice, but we can still be friends.”

Congratulations, Mr. Freshwater. It seems you've managed to turn many of your students into narrow minded authoritarian bigots like yourself, willing to force their beliefs on others without a wit of concern about anyone else's rights.

You're a real example!

I'm seeing the same thing on local web boards in the county. It's sad and discouraging. Freshwater has caught himself up in "Coach" David Daubenmire's lunacy (see also here) and it's a corrosive acid eating at the community. I'm learning what it felt like to live in Dover PA in 2005.
A favorite quote:

And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!

As you have told me before, "great minds ..." and all that jazz.
Now David Daubenmire, Freshwater's evil genie, is pimping t-shirts to support Freshwater's "defense." (Against what isn't specified.) The t-shirt (no illustration publicly available yet) shows Freshwater with Bible in hand, surrounded by kids. There's a halo-like glow around Freshwater's head, and the text on the t-shirt says

I support Mr. Freshwater.

- God

That's pretty clearly gone well past many folks' tolerance limits. The comments on local web boards are now running against him, using phrases like

This has gone from ridiculous to incredibly absurd!


'm sorry, but that shirt if offensive. Isn't it blasphemy to put words in God's mouth?????


I wonder, now that Freshwater has become a totally disruptive force in the school system, if the School Board has grounds to outright fire his butt.


Maybe god doesn't approve, maybe god doesn't support Freakwater, and maybe just maybe god has the best intrest of the children at heart and not some big headed teacher.


I would suggest calling the 2 local businesses that are selling the t-shirts and letting them know that you won't be patronizing their establishments....


We're seeing more and more every day exactly what a religious fanatic and extremist Freshwater REALLY is.

Those are from a private local forum I read. Most are from Christians to judge from their prior posts in the 62-page thread, and some supported Freshwater initially. But the arrogance of Freshwater and Daubenmire has gone past what they can support. That I take as a very good sign: There's a limit to what even conservative Christians will accept here.
Extreme expressions of religion are always divisive. Charismatics have split congregations for decades, and now a fundy teacher is causing discord within his classroom, school and community. Heckuva job, Mr. Freshwater! :(
RBH Would you mind telling me where I can find the local web boards where locals are discussing this? I'm from the area originally and want to read some hometown chat. I'm following this case with interest wondering if Freshwater is going to end up like Daubenmire - running around like Chicken Little screeching that the sky is falling!! the sky is falling!! while his wife passes the offering basket.

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