Freshwater Hearing: Day 1 + DAY 2 Summary

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Day 2 update at the bottom

October 2, 2008

The hearing on John Freshwater’s termination began today before an external referee. It’s expected that it will go on for 7 or 8 days, split between early October and late October. I’ll post updates on those sessions I can attend. There is very limited seating for spectators and press – just 21 seats – so one has to get there very early to get in. A number of people failed to be admitted on account of space.

In today’s session the morning had some innocuous preliminaries and then some fireworks. In the course of having the Superintendent of Schools (Steve Short) identify documents, the Board of Education’s attorney (David Millstone) submitted a letter from the Does, parents of the boy who was burned, with their names redacted to preserve their anonymity. R. Kelly Hamilton, Mr. Freshwater’s attorney, objected to the redaction, and moved to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there was a credible threat if anonymity was breeched. After a 25 minute sidebar and a 2-hour adjournment for a cage match among the half-dozen attorneys involved, the hearing resumed with the Does’ attorney Jessica Philemond agreeing to restoring the redaction and identifying the family. So they’re no longer anonymous.

On direct examination Millstone led Superintendent Short through a narrative of the various events that culminated in the BOE’s resolution to initiate termination proceedings. It was a straightforward recital of a series of problems: the original complaint about burning the boy with a Tesla coil, displays of religious materials in Freshwater’s classroom, Bibles stored in his classroom and allegedly distributed to students, inappropriate behavior in his role as monitor of the Fellowship of Christian Athetes (FCA), using ID creationist materials and handouts in his teaching, and problems with parental permission slips for participation in FCA.

Cross examination and Day 2 below the fold

On cross examination Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, followed three main lines in his questions.

First, he attacked the supervision of Freshwater and alleged lack of clear direction to and communications with him by various administrators.

Second, Hamilton tried to poison the well with respect to subsequent witnesses yet to testify, for example by asking the Superintendent whether he thought people bringing complaints were lying to him, and asking him for all the reasons that a student might be biased against a teacher.

Finally, Hamilton implicitly but clearly made a bizarre argument regarding the effect prong of the Lemon test. Recall that the Lemon test for ascertaining whether a policy or action by a governmental body violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment has three prongs: Purpose, Effect, and Entanglement. A finding that a government action involves any of the three can result in an action being ruled in violation of the First Amendment.

Basically, Hamilton tried to make the point (via questioning the Superintendent) that a display of a Bible verse might just be a “virtuous statement” (direct quote) if the person seeing it doesn’t understand the method of identifying Bible verses. So for example, he asked if a person sees

“Blah, blah, blah …

–James, 5:16”

and doesn’t know that “James 5:16” means it’s a Bible verse, then it wouldn’t be an instance of promoting religion but would merely be posting a “virtuous statement.” Freshwater apparently had around 20 or so such verses on posters in his room. The attorney went at this at length with various questions.

That seems to me (and to a couple of the attorneys I talked with afterward) to be a pretty strained argument, verging on being stretched to invisibility.

More as I get it, and a full summary Monday night or Tuesday.

Day 2 Update: Oct 3, 2008

Brief Summary of Day 2: More of the same.

The whole of Day 2 was taken up with the cross examination of Superintendent Steve Short. The same themes were evident in the questions of Freshwater’s attorney Hamilton – the attack on the administration, poisoning the well (though somewhat less blatantly), and the bizarre First Amendment interpretation. In addition, he added one more: The beginning of the demonization of the family whose son was burned. That was subtle but real.

Two key points emerged from the Superintendent’s testimony today. First, when asked if he was surprised that Freshwater burned a cross on the boy’s arm, Short responded that he didn’t think Freshwater was abusive, but that he wasn’t surprised that it was a cross.

Second (and this is important), the Superintendent reported that another student came to him after the investigator’s report was completed and submitted and told him that Freshwater had “zapped” the boy on the butt with the Tesla coil when the boy bent over to pick up a test tube. The boy wasn’t one of the “volunteers,” regarded Freshwater as his “bud” (friend), and is a special education student. That will be explored further, I’m sure.

After the cross examination there was a short redirect, and then the hearing was adjourned. The hearing now goes into recess until October 28, the gap in order to accommodate the schedules of all the attorneys involved.

Dramatis personæ:

Principals

Referee: R. Lee Shepherd, Poland Depler & Shepherd Co LPA, Shelby, OH

Mt. Vernon District Board of Education, which passed the resolution to initiate termination proceedings at its June 20, 2008, meeting.

David Millstone of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, attorney for the Mt. Vernon Board of Education for this hearing.

John Freshwater, middle school science teacher in Mt. Vernon, OH, Middle School, who appealed the resolution of the BOE to terminate him for cause.

R. Kelly Hamilton of Hamilton & Hawkins (Grove City, OH), Freshwater’s attorney. (Hamilton was formerly a Sergeant on the Columbus, OH, police force.)

Four additional attorneys representing Freshwater, the BOE and the Doe family in the Does’ federal civil suit against the BOE, Freshwater, and sundry others sitting in as observers in their various clients’ interests

Witnesses (list updated as they testify):

Steve Short, Superintendent of Mt. Vernon School District (Oct 2 & 3)

(Edited 10/6/08 to insert appropriate names in the narrative)

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John Freshwater, the fanatical evangelical school teacher who burned a cross into a sudent's arm, is in the midst of a hearing in Ohio right now. It doesn't sound like it's going all that well for him. Richard Hoppe has... Read More

51 Comments

It’s quite obvious that Mr Freshwater’s faith is important to him, but, it also sounds like he didn’t care much for teaching science… Which was what he was originally hired for, right?

That, and what does Mr Freshwater hope to accomplish by saying that his free speech is being trampled if he wasn’t using his speech to teach science in the first place?

I doubt you can find a single literate person in the country who doesn’t recognize a Biblical verse quotation when it’s tossed around. It’s the only type of text that follows that format..

What a strange argument.

Somehow, I don’t see him posting virtuous verses like, “If someone strikes you one the one cheek, turn to him the other,” or from James 5.1, “Come now, you rich, weep and mourn for the miseries that are coming on you.”

But I would love it if one of his verses was from Ecclesiastes: “Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body.”

Amen.

he asked if a person sees

“Blah, blah, blah …

–James, 5:16”

and doesn’t know that “James 5:16” means it’s a Bible verse, then it wouldn’t be an instance of promoting religion but would merely be posting a “virtuous statement.” Freshwater apparently had around 20 or so such verses on posters in his room. The attorney went at this at length with various questions.

That seems to me (and to a couple of the attorneys I talked with afterward) to be a pretty strained argument, verging on being stretched to invisibility.

That’s weak in so many ways.

I don’t have to know or understand the label “christianity” to be taught it.

If Freshwater thinks the kids need more “bible as literature” courses, JH science still isn’t the class to teach that.

This defense seems to trade one lemon prong for another: either the students know what the verse is, in which case it has effect, or they don’t, in which case posting it is a teaching function which goes to purpose.

Richard B. Hoppe said: …the original complaint about burning the boy with a Tesla coil…

Was the term “Tesla coil” used in court? Or are you translating? The device has variously been described as an “electrostatic device” (which it is not) ( http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]er-i-ha.html ) and as a “Tesla coil” (which it is…sort of ).

The device is a “BD-10A High Frequency Generator” ( http://www.electrotechnicproduct.com/pinhole.asp ) - a miniature solid-state Tesla coil (sort of) which generates 50,000 volts at a high frequency. Most Tesla coils are much larger and the use of the un-modified term “Tesla coil” in court may generate confusion.

Would have been amusing if the actual family’s real name was “Doe”. With John and Jane and son John Jr.

One quote from Proverbs might be a “virtuous statement.” At well over 10, it’s religion.

I’m wondering why he’d even bother with attributing “virtuous statements” to Biblical books if it wasn’t religion. It’s not like it’s copyrighted or anything, and simply to avoid entanglement with religion it might be better to forgo the normal attributions.

Not all children would recognize the Biblical references, of course, but I’m sure that they’d find out from other kids soon enough.

Nice try by the attorney, only I’d hope most anybody would recognize that’s it’s a barely visible smoke screen.

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

20 posters w/bible verses on them?? That’s wallpaper!

Glen D writes:

One quote from Proverbs might be a “virtuous statement.” At well over 10, it’s religion.

Why? One could easily list 20+ quotes from several places in the Judeo-Christian Bible that present wisdom and truth without being “religion”.

“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?”

“A good name is better than fine perfume.”

“Whoever loves money, never has money enough.”

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

Etc etc. How can any of these taken together or in isolation be viewed as “religious”. So what if the source is the Bible. Truth is truth regardless of its source. It could just as easily be Confucious or Victor Hugo…who would object then, I wonder.

Why should it be either offensive or illegal to quote universal truths like those listed above from the most popular book ever written?

What we haven’t been told so far is what quotes were on the wall. If it were like these I mentioned, then I see no problem. If it was John 3:16, then, yes, that crosses over the line. It depends on what the quotes were.

Donald M said:

Glen D writes:

One quote from Proverbs might be a “virtuous statement.” At well over 10, it’s religion.

Why? One could easily list 20+ quotes from several places in the Judeo-Christian Bible that present wisdom and truth without being “religion”.

Why should it be either offensive or illegal to quote universal truths like those listed above from the most popular book ever written?

One problem is the selection of a single source. So many quotes from one source not-so-subtly lends implicit authority to that source. This would be true even if it were nonreligious. If it were Shakespeare, the students would quickly get the idea that the teacher is a Shakespeare nut and quoting the bard on your tests couldn’t hurt. Now, if it actually were Shakespeare I might be willing to concede there’s not much harm, but when the source is religious, then even if the quotes aren’t religious you are sending a message to the kids that this one religious text is valued highly by the teacher. This is not neutrality.

Second, if you’re going to stick things up on the walls of a science classroom, its perfectly legitimate to ask what’s the relevance to science. Wouldn’t that space be better used for, say, a periodic table? Its difficult to justify displays that add nothing to a students’ education when there are so many other displays that would.

This last point also reminds me of a similar point brought up by the plaintiffs in the Dover trial over the class statement - if you claim your material is teaching, its illegal, but if you claim your material isn’t teaching, why are you introducing it?

Paul Burnett said:

Richard B. Hoppe said: …the original complaint about burning the boy with a Tesla coil…

Was the term “Tesla coil” used in court? Or are you translating? The device has variously been described as an “electrostatic device” (which it is not) ( http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]er-i-ha.html ) and as a “Tesla coil” (which it is…sort of ).

The device is a “BD-10A High Frequency Generator” ( http://www.electrotechnicproduct.com/pinhole.asp ) - a miniature solid-state Tesla coil (sort of) which generates 50,000 volts at a high frequency. Most Tesla coils are much larger and the use of the un-modified term “Tesla coil” in court may generate confusion.

Both terms have been used in the hearing (it’s not a “court”, but rather an administrative hearing which has many of the trappings of a court). The device itself is on exhibit in the hearing room on the Board’s attorney table.

We’re on lunch break: More later.

One of the things I hope gets pointed out is that the mark I’ve seen in the pictures is a Latin cross, not a Greek or St. Andrew’s cross (both X’s, depending on how you look at them). That is, Freshwater made an extra effort to lengthen one, and only one, of the legs of the cross. Either he wasn’t trying to make an “X,” or he’s illiterate.

RBH said: The device itself is on exhibit in the hearing room on the Board’s attorney table.

Sooner or later I hope somebody points out why the initial spark application doesn’t hurt: “The reason for the lack of pain is that a human being’s nervous system does not sense the flow of potentially dangerous electrical currents above 15–20 kHz; essentially, in order for nerves to be activated, a significant number of ions must cross their membrane before the current (and hence voltage) reverses. Since the body no longer provides a warning ‘shock’, novices may touch the output streamers of small Tesla coils without feeling painful shock…” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Coil#The_.27skin_effect.27_and_high_frequency_electrical_safety

David Fickett-Wilbar said: Either (Freshwater) wasn’t trying to make an “X,” or he’s illiterate.

He was Lying For Jesus™.

Paul Burnett said:

RBH said: The device itself is on exhibit in the hearing room on the Board’s attorney table.

Sooner or later I hope somebody points out why the initial spark application doesn’t hurt: “The reason for the lack of pain is that a human being’s nervous system does not sense the flow of potentially dangerous electrical currents above 15–20 kHz; essentially, in order for nerves to be activated, a significant number of ions must cross their membrane before the current (and hence voltage) reverses. Since the body no longer provides a warning ‘shock’, novices may touch the output streamers of small Tesla coils without feeling painful shock…” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Coil#The_.27skin_effect.27_and_high_frequency_electrical_safety

Thanks for that. I’ve talked some with the attorney for the Board about RF burns (I was an electronics tech in the Navy decades ago), and referred him to appropriate medical authority, but that’s a nice clear succinct explanation of it.

Richard,

Where is the hearing happening? Could I drive down from Cleveland?

rimpal said:

Richard,

Where is the hearing happening? Could I drive down from Cleveland?

It’s in Mt. Vernon, about 2 hours from the west side and more from the east side.

The hearing will not resume until Oct 28. Ask me not why.

As noted above, the current hearing room has seats for only 21 supernumeraries – press and spectators. There is talk of trying to find a somewhat larger venue, but whether that’ll happen is up for grabs. This hearing referee is not big on accommodating the public or press. I did get a smile out of him during a break today, though, with a story about a Navy rifle drill team I was on decades ago, a pipe band composed of southern college girls, and 18” chromed bayonets. :)

”…a Navy rifle drill team I was on decades ago, a pipe band composed of southern college girls, and 18” chromed bayonets.”

Wow, I thought that was MY fantasy.

It really happened? Was I there?

Ask me not why.

thanks for the update, Richard.

oh, and before i forget to ask…

not why?

Ichthyic said:

Ask me not why.

thanks for the update, Richard.

oh, and before i forget to ask…

not why?

Why not?

Doc Bill said:

“…a Navy rifle drill team I was on decades ago, a pipe band composed of southern college girls, and 18” chromed bayonets.”

Wow, I thought that was MY fantasy.

It really happened? Was I there?

Yes. Regrettably, no.

RBH,

Thanks for the info. Is there some way I can keep myself up-to-date? I would definitely like to attend the hearing if and when it shifts to a larger venue.

Donald M said:

One could easily list 20+ quotes from several places in the Judeo-Christian Bible that present wisdom and truth without being “religion”. …

How can any of these taken together or in isolation be viewed as “religious”. So what if the source is the Bible. Truth is truth regardless of its source. It could just as easily be Confucious or Victor Hugo…who would object then, I wonder. …

Two glaring errors in your attempt at logic.

Saying that a quote from the Bible would not be religious is like saying that a quote from a biology text book would not be science.

One cannot establish any sort of “universal truths” in the Bible, historical or alegorical. A statement such as: “There is nothing new under the sun.” is pretty much meaningless as it can be interpreted in many ways, and, can be even considered false as there are many things considered “new”.

The basic premise that religionists start with is of the absolute truth of the Bible – this is a false premise as many statements in the Bible (of which there are many versions and translations, by the way) are demonstrably incorrect and demonstrably metaphorical and alegorical (which are subject to interpretation).

feedthem wrote:

Two glaring errors in your attempt at logic.

Saying that a quote from the Bible would not be religious is like saying that a quote from a biology text book would not be science.

There’s nothing at all religious about any of the quotes I used. They make no mention of a diety of any sort, prescribe no form of worship or religious practice, promote no theistic view. They merely reflect wisdom. You can agree or disagree with them, but they aren’t automatically religious merely because they are quoted from a largely religious text.

As to the biology text book reference, I know of one very popular Biology textbook that stated “Evolution proceeds without plan or purpose.” While that may perhaps be true, it is certainly not a scientific statement. It is purely philosophical in nature. Because of that statement, and a couple more like it, later versions of this particular text were edited to take these clearly non-scientific statements out.

As to the biology text book reference, I know of one very popular Biology textbook that stated “Evolution proceeds without plan or purpose.” While that may perhaps be true, it is certainly not a scientific statement. It is purely philosophical in nature. Because of that statement, and a couple more like it, later versions of this particular text were edited to take these clearly non-scientific statements out.

Right, and we shouldn’t say hurricane landfalls are random either. They could be used quite purposefully by a deity to punish gays. We can’t know, and we certainly wouldn’t want to stray into “philosophy” now, would we?

Look, why are we pandering to religious extremists by removing such statements when they are essentially true? If you want to be absolutely pedantic about it, just write: “Evolution proceeds without apparent plan or purpose.” See? Now’s it’s fine. Let the religious bicker over whether there is some invisible man behind the curtain pulling the strings or not. The plain fact is that evolution gives no sign of being either planned or purposeful. The only “philosophy” that needs to be injected is by those who want to pretend it does.

As to the biology text book reference, I know of one very popular Biology textbook that stated “Evolution proceeds without plan or purpose.” While that may perhaps be true, it is certainly not a scientific statement. It is purely philosophical in nature.

Let’s rephrase this as: “Darwinian evolution is an undirected process, with adaptations being acquired in any one of an indefinite range of unpredictable directions that improve (or at least do not impair) the fitness of organisms for survival in their environments.”

OK, this is a statement of fact. This is precisely what the theory of evolution by natural selection states. The use of “no plan or purpose” seems a bit broad – evolution by natural selection may (if it is accepted that the Universe is Designed, which is a clearly philosophical question) be part of a plan with a specific purpose. So – is there any objection to the concept as rephrased? I’m not trying to corner anyone, I’m honestly curious.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

feedthemtothelions said:

The basic premise that religionists start with is of the absolute truth of the Bible – this is a false premise as many statements in the Bible (of which there are many versions and translations, by the way) are demonstrably incorrect and demonstrably metaphorical and alegorical (which are subject to interpretation).

And then there’s the problem of how religionists or fundementalists never bother to explain why it’s appropriate, necessary or even relevant to rely on the Bible as a science class resource.

At best, using the Bible in a science class requires a lot of tortured pretzel logic and plenty of head-standing, like explaining to the students how the water spoken of in the very first verses of Genesis, prior to the creation of the world was God’s way of conveying the concept of hydrogen to the ancient Jews, or that grasshoppers are said to have four legs because the ancient Jews had different terms for the walking and jumping legs of a grasshopper, even though all 6 are used (when present) in walking.

Most of the time, though, using the Bible as a resource in a science class is totally irrelevant: what’s the point of referring to John 2:26 when talking about physics, and what’s the point of talking about how homosexual people have chosen their own sin when talking about the origin of the Universe? For the most part, it’s nothing more than useless, if not an excuse for mendacious and pernicious religious propaganda.

And then there’s the fact that some statements made by the Bible have been proven false, such as the fact that neither rabbits, nor hyraxes, depending on which mistranslation you use, chew cud as do cattle.

There’s nothing at all religious about any of the quotes I used.

as usual, Ducky is the exemplar for “epic fail”.

that wasn’t the point that was raised, Ducky.

from previous experience, I’ll say that arguing with Ducky is like arguing with a tape recorder. If you’re that bored, might i suggest a nice computer game instead?

Donald M Wrote:

It depends on what the quotes were.

I’ll bet none of them were “the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life.”

Donald M said:

Glen D writes:

One quote from Proverbs might be a “virtuous statement.” At well over 10, it’s religion.

Why? One could easily list 20+ quotes from several places in the Judeo-Christian Bible that present wisdom and truth without being “religion”.

“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?”

“A good name is better than fine perfume.”

“Whoever loves money, never has money enough.”

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

Etc etc. How can any of these taken together or in isolation be viewed as “religious”. So what if the source is the Bible. Truth is truth regardless of its source. It could just as easily be Confucious or Victor Hugo…who would object then, I wonder.

Why should it be either offensive or illegal to quote universal truths like those listed above from the most popular book ever written?

What we haven’t been told so far is what quotes were on the wall. If it were like these I mentioned, then I see no problem. If it was John 3:16, then, yes, that crosses over the line. It depends on what the quotes were.

Donald - Legally, the meaning of “religious” involves more than simply the content of such a quotation, both the intent of the teacher and the effect on the class have to be taken into account. In the example you present, there are several problems. First, you claim these reflect merely universal wisdom. I disagree. I actually disagree personally with the content of the 1st and 4th quote. I suspect plenty of other people would disagree with others. Moreover, these quotes are representative of a specific religious text/philosophy and were presumably chosen for that reason. In other words, the teacher in your example has decided to present only Christian quotes. The fact that other systems of thought might share some of these concepts doesn’t change the intent of the teacher, which is to present only materials from a Christian source. Even if students are not aware of this, it still has the effect of surrounding them with the concepts of a specific religion, which presumably would influence their thinking. Indeed, that is the reason why they would be posted. Thus, the teacher clearly has a religious intent. If quotes from a variety of religious and non-religious sources, not all of which agreed with Christian concepts, were posted then this would be more reasonable. As you described it though I can only interpret this as the teacher seeking to have a religious effect, albeit subtle, on the students.

Well, what exactly were these 20 quotations?

Were they “Judge not, lest ye be judged” or were they “No man shall find salvation except through me”?

I have yet to see some kind of list.

Intent means a great deal in establishment cases, and I suspect a full list of the lines in question will show intent that goes far beyond some guy who’s familiar with the Bible and has quoted some classical good advice that he heard in Sunday school when he was a kid.

Donald M said:

There’s nothing at all religious about any of the quotes I used. They make no mention of a deity of any sort, prescribe no form of worship or religious practice, promote no theistic view. They merely reflect wisdom. You can agree or disagree with them, but they aren’t automatically religious merely because they are quoted from a largely religious text.

Right, and that figure over there is just an example of geometry. It isn’t automatically a swastika just because it is shaped like one.

stevaroni said:

Well, what exactly were these 20 quotations?

Were they “Judge not, lest ye be judged” or were they “No man shall find salvation except through me”?

I have yet to see some kind of list.

Intent means a great deal in establishment cases, and I suspect a full list of the lines in question will show intent that goes far beyond some guy who’s familiar with the Bible and has quoted some classical good advice that he heard in Sunday school when he was a kid.

AFAIK there is no list. Freshwater was instructed to take them down and he did. But the relevant administrator didn’t keep a list of them.

The issue is not about this or that component individually – Bible on his desk, Bible verses on the walls, a 10 Commandments display, a poster of George Bush praying with a Bible verse referenced, Bibles in boxes in the room and admittedly distributed to students on at least one occasion, misbehavior (praying, healing session) in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and so on. It is the cumulative effect of the whole array in conjunction with Freshwater’s references to religious reasons for calling homosexuals sinners, saying that some Christian denominations are false and their adherents will go to hell, burning a cross on a kid’s arm, and so on.

Freshwater’s supporters (and his lawyer) would dearly love for people to ignore the whole array and focus on individual pieces, saying of each that “It wasn’t so bad.” But the picture includes all the pieces as an aggregation, not a bunch of disconnected items.

RBH said: …misbehavior (praying, healing session)… (emphasis added)

Ooh, can they get him for practicing medicine without a medical license, too?

What is this “healing session”? Laying on of hands and magical incantations, or did he actually cure somebody of something? If so, what?

Science Avenger said: Right, and that figure over there is just an example of geometry. It isn’t automatically a swastika just because it is shaped like one.

Of course it is not a swastika, it’s a fylfot.

rossum

Paul Burnett said:

RBH said: …misbehavior (praying, healing session)… (emphasis added)

Ooh, can they get him for practicing medicine without a medical license, too?

What is this “healing session”? Laying on of hands and magical incantations, or did he actually cure somebody of something? If so, what?

Allegedly there was a prayer session to heal a visitor during an FCA meeting. I don’t know anything beyond that.

RBH said: Allegedly there was a prayer session to heal a visitor during an FCA meeting.

How quaint. This healing story could be as interesting as Louisiana governor “Bobby” Jindal’s exorcism story - which Jindal himself wrote - see http://www.newoxfordreview.org/arti[…]=1294-jindal. (See http://www.dailykingfish.com/showDi[…]?diaryId=224 for a larger picture.)

RBH said: …misbehavior (praying, healing session) in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and so on.

Just a quibble, it seems wierd for the school to allow a club called “Fellowship of Christian Athletes” and then not expect them to do religious things.

I think either extreme position (allow them to operate religiously or do not allow them at all) is more defensible than this odd compromise.

eric said:

RBH said: …misbehavior (praying, healing session) in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and so on.

Just a quibble, it seems wierd for the school to allow a club called “Fellowship of Christian Athletes” and then not expect them to do religious things.

I think either extreme position (allow them to operate religiously or do not allow them at all) is more defensible than this odd compromise.

I think the issue is the role of the staff member/teacher. Students have certain freedoms as individuals that a representative of teh school does not. For example, students can initiate prayers at, say a football game, but a staff member cannot because they are operating as a representative of the state.

sylvilagus said: I think the issue is the role of the staff member/teacher. Students have certain freedoms as individuals that a representative of teh school does not. For example, students can initiate prayers at, say a football game, but a staff member cannot because they are operating as a representative of the state.

IMO this is ‘reap what you sow.’ A school that allows religious-based clubs is going to get Entanglement issues. While it may be reasonable (if a bit kludgy) to expect an adult sponsor to not participate in religious club activities, these are kids, they make mistakes, and you know that at some point that adult’s going to have to intervene. For normal clubs this is not a big deal. Breaking up a chess argument in the chess club? Okay. But breaking up a doctrinal argument in a religious club? Deciding what activities are appropriate for a Christian club? Entanglement, entanglement, entanglement… I suppose the only way to avoid it is to pray that the students in the club never disagree about anything.

While eric makes good points, the requirement for equal access for groups of all kinds if the school gives access to one type of non-school sponsored group doesn’t allow prohibiting a religious club, LGBT support club, or whatever kind of group from meeting outside school hours in the school.

The prohibitions in the FCA manual say the faculty monitor may not facilitate, lead, or participate in the group’s activities. If Freshwater and his Christian colleagues could stick to that there’d be no problem.

My recommendation to the BOE will be that the monitor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes not be a practicing Christian. They won’t take that suggestion, of course, but it’s worth making just to induce some thought and relieve the boredom. :) Such a person would be less likely to run afoul of the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause.

Forgive me for being crass, but I can’t help pointing out that the article mentioned “Cross examination”. Ha.

The issue of posting ‘non-religious’ Biblical verses is intriguing. Would a teacher be prohibited from putting up a sign that said “Be nice to each other”? I’m sure there’s a Biblical verse that expresses that sentiment. Did the school have a policy that limits teachers to displaying only academic materials, i.e. material related to class subjects? If not, then posting a Biblical sentiment (without the verse) might not be problematic.

JT said:

The issue of posting ‘non-religious’ Biblical verses is intriguing. Would a teacher be prohibited from putting up a sign that said “Be nice to each other”? I’m sure there’s a Biblical verse that expresses that sentiment. Did the school have a policy that limits teachers to displaying only academic materials, i.e. material related to class subjects? If not, then posting a Biblical sentiment (without the verse) might not be problematic.

Its not just whats on any individual quote, its whats on all of them together. Putting up 20 posters from the same source tells the students that source is valued by the teacher. It doesn’t matter if its the Bible, Machieavelli, or Monty Python, they’re going to get the message that that source has weight.

JT said:

The issue of posting ‘non-religious’ Biblical verses is intriguing. Would a teacher be prohibited from putting up a sign that said “Be nice to each other”? I’m sure there’s a Biblical verse that expresses that sentiment. Did the school have a policy that limits teachers to displaying only academic materials, i.e. material related to class subjects? If not, then posting a Biblical sentiment (without the verse) might not be problematic.

It is an interesting thought, but totally hypothetical. But what was documented in the Freshwater Report isn’t:

The investigators found the following material in the second cupboard in the front of the room during a walk through of Mr. Freshwaters’ classroom on May 15, 2008: · A book titled “Refuting Evolution” · A video tape titled “Lies In The Textbooks, Part A 4 Of 7, 10 Lies Of Evolution” · A book titled “Evolution Of A Creationist” · A book titled “The Real Meaning Of The Zodiac” · A book titled “Icons of Evolution”

There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwaters’ teaching regarding subjects opposed to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and state standards. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement, the evidence indicates he has been teaching creationism or intelligent design and has been teaching the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution. While it may have been for only a minute or two, he did discuss the meaning of Easter and Good Friday with at least one of his classes. He has passed out materials to students for the past several years from religious sources challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach religion, creationism or intelligent design.

4/16/08: Mr. White conducted a walk through of Mr. Freshwaters room. The Bible was on Mr. Freshwaters’ desk. A Colin Powell poster with a Bible scripture showing leaders in prayer was on his wall, and Mr. White told him that it needs to come down.

During the investigator’s walk-through of Mr. Freshwaters’ room on May 15, 2008 the Bible was on Mr. Freshwaters’ desk, the Colin Powell poster was on the bulletin board, and a Bible and a book titled, “Jesus Of Nazareth” were on a table by his desk.

http://www.dispatch.com/wwwexportco[…]eshwater.pdf

It is Freshwater’s insubordination in not teaching the curriculum and in not obeying instructions that will get him fired (and, doubtless hired in some local religious school).

D. P. Robin quoted the investigator’s report:

…a Bible and a book titled, “Jesus Of Nazareth” were on a table by his desk.

It’s worth noting that those particular two items were added to Mr. Freshwater’s room by him after he was instructed to remove the religious items already on display there. That particular Bible was not his personal Bible but was checked out from the library, as was the Jesus of Nazareth book. That’s part of the basis for the insubordination charges.

The locals are chatting about this at mvohio.net. Click on “Forum” then go to the “Generally Speaking” section of the website and look at the topic “Is Having a Bible In the Classroom…”. These Mount Vernonites have been chatting about this nonstop since April. You’ll catch all the latest news.

“posting ‘non-religious’ Biblical verses”

How could these verses possibly be ‘non-religious’ if Freshwater thought them to be the word of God?

He needs to decide if he is a “man of God” or spreading nice words to people.

feedthemtothelions said:

(snip)A statement such as: “There is nothing new under the sun.” is pretty much meaningless as it can be interpreted in many ways, and, can be even considered false as there are many things considered “new”.

“Whoever said ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ never thought much about individuals… but he’s dead anyway.” – The Refreshments.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on October 4, 2008 3:26 AM.

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