Freshwater finally loses his case

There has been a long running saga in Ohio concerning a science teacher named John Freshwater who was teaching creationism and propagating Christianity in other ways in his eighth grade science classes in a semi-rural community in central Ohio named Mount Vernon. He kept Bibles on his desk and posters of the Ten Commandments and other Christian messages hung on the walls.

When ordered by his school district to stop doing this, he not only refused but actually increased his religious activities. He was then fired and, as expected, complained that his religious freedom and freedom of speech rights were being violated. His case went all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court where he lost last November by a 4-3 vote, with the judges ruling that his disobeying of rules were sufficient grounds for firing him. It should be noted that in Ohio, the Supreme Court judges are elected and have party affiliations. Six of the judges are Republican and just one is a Democrat.

But these people who want to be free to propagate their religious beliefs anywhere never give up and he filed a motion asking for the court to rehear his case. This week the Ohio Supreme Court rejected his request so this particular case seems to be finally well and truly settled.

But of course you can be sure that other teachers are doing similar things. In fact, Freshwater’s behavior only came to light because he seemed to not know any bounds and even used a Tesla coil to make a mark on a student’s arm that parents said looked like a cross.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Now he gets to go on Faux News and all the AM radio natter shows to talk about how Christians are such an oppressed minority.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    these people who want to be free to propagate their religious beliefs anywhere

    More like *everywhere* I’d say although I guess anywhere works well too.

    The bit about having posters on the teachers desk and stuff seems a bit odd to me, surely teachers should be allowed (within reason) to decorate their own desks as they wish – but teaching creationism and pushing it on the class instead of having stuff there merely as personal affects is certainly wrong.

    Freshwater’s behavior only came to light because he seemed to not know any bounds and even used a Tesla coil to make a mark on a student’s arm that parents said looked like a cross.

    What the .. !? Isn’t that a form of child abuse? Was that done with or without the kids consent?

  3. Mano Singham says

    The courts found that keeping Bibles on his desk was ok but that the posters on the walls and talking about religions was not. Also, he was accused of insubordination because he directly defied the school district’s order to stop doing these things.

  4. dean says

    As I remember teachers in later grades had complained about him for years, as he had not been covering science in his class but had been going on with the creationism. Those complaints were ignored. It wasn’t until he had used a device to burn a cross on the arms of a couple students. In fact, from the wiki article on him (emphasis mine)

    It was publicly revealed that as early as 2006, he was told to stop teaching creationism and intelligent design, but he continued to do so. In addition, the investigative report included photos of a child’s arm with burn markings in the shape of a cross. The report also included the claim that several teachers complained for eleven years that Freshwater was teaching evolution incorrectly. Freshwater was also accused of shocking a special-needs student in the back after telling him to pick up a test tube, though Freshwater said he might have touched the student inadvertently as the boy walked past him. Further, it was alleged that he had used material from Answers in Genesis, Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution, and Kent Hovind to cast doubt on evolution and had assigned students to see the pro-intelligent design movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for extra credit. According to CNN, “The report also cites evidence that Mr. Freshwater told his students that ‘science is wrong because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is therefore a sinner’.”

    From a hearing he requested after he had first been terminated it came out that

    The company that manufactured the device used by Freshwater has stated that it should not be used on human beings, and e-mailed written instructions to the investigators which state, “Never touch or come in contact with the high voltage output of this device, nor with any device it is energizing.” Freshwater defended his actions, stating he used an electrostatic generator to leave an “X”, rather than a cross, on a student’s arm as a demonstration, something he said he had done hundreds of times in the past, and that the process merely leaves a temporary red mark

    The board presented a second student who testified that he was burned by Freshwater, but did not complain, and said Freshwater told a group of students that “Catholics aren’t Christians.” The boy said the phrase stuck with him because he is a Catholic.

    This guy had been a disgrace and danger for many years, and it wasn’t until some parents actually got upset about their child having been burned that the administration took action.

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