Freshwater Day 11: Board’s case ends; Freshwater’s begins

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Today saw the end of the Board of Education’s case and the beginning of the presentation of John Freshwater’s case. To start this morning, David Millstone, the Board’s attorney, moved the admission of the 60 Exhibits he had introduced during various parts of the Board’s case. Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, told the referee that he planned to object to some of them, so action on the motion was deferred until some time in the future. That concluded the Board’s case.

Hamilton has subpoenaed 18 witnesses, and believes we can finish by Friday (I’ll believe that when I see it!). We heard three witnesses today: Jordan Freshwater, John Freshwater’s daughter and a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2007-2008; Dino D’Ettorre, a 6th grade science teacher in the Middle School; and Barbara Spitzer, a special education teacher in the Middle School and a member of the 8th grade ‘team’ of which Freshwater was a part. (Also see the Columbus Dispatch story.)

More below the fold

Jordan Freshwater Direct Examination

Hamilton began direct examination by asking if Jordan had read the investigators’ report. She had not. He asked if she had asked her parents if the investigator would talk to her. She had. He asked why she is testifying today. She replied “I know a lot of truth and I think it should be shared” about FCA.

A series of questions established her role in FCA last year: a leader. Asked if she was a Christian she agreed. Asked if one had to be a Christian to be in FCA her answer was inaudible. (Jordan has what seems to be a slight speech impediment and speaks softly, so it was often hard to hear her.)

A series of questions established her perception of the role of ‘leaders’ in FAC: to arrange speakers, lead programs, help things run smoothly.

Another series of questions established her perception of the role of faculty members. She testified that her dad sat in the back and made sure the meeting was under control.

Freshwater was usually at meetings; occasionally other teachers would attend. Meetings consisted of some combination of speakers, Bible verses and lessons, movies, and prayer. She said students initiated and led prayers, and that Freshwater had not initiated or led any prayers.

She testified that Freshwater spoke with her about FCA outside of school, and spoke about FCA with FCA students outside of meetings. Asked about her father’s praying, she said he “prays all the time.”

Jordan described the ‘healing prayer’ scene that’s been testified to and described in the investigator’s report. She said that someone – a student, she thi\ought – suggested that they pray for a speaker who was ill. They formed a circle around the speaker, with the speaker and Jordan in the middle, and the prayer occurred. Students in the circle reached out and touched the speaker as they prayed. She said her father was “on the outskirts of the circle.” She denied that “Satan” was mentioned during the prayer. She didn’t remember specifically if her father and another teacher present also put their hands out or on the speaker. She did say that everyone participated in the prayer.

Jordan denied that her father had ever passed out Bibles at an FCA meeting or told students to pass them out. She denied that he asked students to memorize Bible verses.

Jordan testified that students took the lead in contacting potential speakers and following up to confirm speakers. She testified that students also mostly filled out the speaker forms that were turned in to her father for signature and to the Principal’s office. She denied that her father ever initially contacted a speaker or suggested a speaker. According to her, Freshwater’s role was to make sure speakers got in the building and knew where to go. With respect to an FCA speaker from the Will Graham Crusade that was held in Knox County in last year, she testified that she volunteered with the Crusade and asked the speaker to come to FCA. Her father also volunteered with the Crusade.

Confronted with an email to a speaker from her father’s school email account, she said that she sent it. There was some strange business about the email. It was signed “Freshwater,” which she said she would not use as a signature. However, there was evidently a space before the “Freshwater” where Hamilton speculated her first name could fit. She agreed.

Jordan testified that she selected most of the movies shown at FCA. Asked specifically about “The Watchmaker,” she said she first saw it on her father’s computer at school, where he had received it from someone. She testified that “It showed something that I believe, thought it was a good example, so I showed it” at FCA. Recall that testimony has established that Freshwater also showed that film in his science class.

She testified that she was “Expelled: Not Intelligence Allowed” with her family and friends. She didn’t know if her father was involved in an effort to get “Expelled” shown in the local theater.

She testified that she had Elle Button for 8th grade science. Asked if Mrs. Button used debates in class, she said that “a kid brings up something and we talk about it.” Asked about movies, she remembered one about dinosaurs and how they evolved.

She testified that her father had used a Tesla coil in class for years. She saw it in school and at home. Demonstrating how it was used with her finger, she made a swift move down her forearm lasting a second or so.

She saw Freshwater give a demo of it in 2nd or 3rd grade, and she saw it used by Mr. D’Ettorre in 6th grade (more on that later). She said that D’Ettorre used it on perhaps 3/4 of her 6th grade science class, not actually touching a student but allowing the arc to jump to the students’ arms. She testified that she had been “touched” with it twice, both times by her father, and that it “tickled.” She testified that her father used it on an older brother who had a broken leg in a cast, “to stimulate it.”

Asked to describe her father, she said he was an “out of the box” person, very active, “he’s different,” not ordinary, makes things fun. She said he affects everyone around him, and is very active in the community. She said her father says “I love science,” and that other students say “I love science” on account of him. She creid a little during this testimony.

Jordan testified that he has Bibles everywhere – on his desk, in his car, at home by his bed, by his chair, etc. He has 7 Bibles. Other family members also have their own Bibles.

In answer to another question, Jordan said “We don’t push the Bible on people.” They refer to it, get inspiration from it, find answers in it.

Asked about his organization methods, Jordan testified that “He’s not a very neat person.”

Finally, asked if she would have told the investigator what she testified to today, she said “Yes.” Asked if she has been truthful, she said “Yes.”

Jordan Freshwater Cross

Cross examination began with examination of the FCA speaker resource forms filed with the Principal in 2007-2008. David Millstone, Board attorney, walker her through all the forms. She testified that she filled out most of them, but sometimes other students filled them out. Three, however, she identified as having been filled out by her father.

Asked about the form that asserted that Zach Dennis had contacted a speaker, she testified that she had filled it out and that someone else had told her Zach had made the contact. Zach did not tell her that. (Recall that Zach testified that Mr. Freshwater told him to contact that speaker.)

She wasn’t sure if she remembered having to turn in a parental permission form to use the computer system at school.

Jordan Freshwater Redirect

On redirect Hamilton asked her if it’s possible that one speaker, Pastor Turner, came to FCA when a speaker resource form hadn’t been required or signed. She said some speaker forms weren’t required for an FCA meeting held early morning on Fridays before school started. (The rest were during school hours, at lunch time.)

Referring to a speakers list in her father’s possession in his desk, she testified that it had been handed down from the leadership groups of previous years.

There was no recross.

Dino D’Ettorree Direct Examination

Dino D’Ettorre is a long time Middle School teacher in the Mt. Vernon school system. He is nearing 30 years of serve, near retirement. Over the years he has taught language arts, reading, math, and science.

Hamilton remarked that in a conversation in the hall before his testimony, D’Ettorre had mentioned he was apprehensive about testifying. D’Ettorre agreed that he was.

Hamilton first asked if D’Ettorre had spoken with the independent investigator. He said he’d spoke with a woman who identified herself as the principal investigator’s wife. He testified that the interview was short, perhaps 15 or 20 minutes, and he was asked only if he had used the Tesla coil (yes) and if he had heard any complaints (No). He couldn’t remember any other questions.

D’Ettorre testifed that he’d spoken with David Millstone, the Board’s attorney, in the fall of 2008. He said he told Millstone that he had used a Tesla coil to touch students with the arc, not directly, and that he does not pray with the 6th grade FCA students he monitors. He testified that he had not been to an 8th grade FCA meeting.

Asked how he used the Tesla coil, D’Ettorre said he would touch the arc to his own forearm, and then ask if students wanted to be touched with the arc. A number would volunteer, he said. He said that he had done this perhaps 2 or 3 times in the last 5 years.

Asked how he knew how to use it, D’Ettorre testified that he had himself been shocked with one when he was in high school or college. Asked if he had consulted other middle school tyracher about it, he said that another teacher, Don Newcomer, told him he had used it in class.

Asked to demonstrate on Hamilton how he used the Tesla coil, D’Ettorre sketched a straight line down Hamilton’s forearm. He testified that it may or may not leave a mark and that any marks were gone in a matter of hours. He testified that th emark could sometimes be described as an X or a cross. D’Ettorre testified that sometimes students asked for specific marks – crosses, hearts, “make it go this way,” etc. He tried to accommodate them.

Asked if he had heard any complaints. D’Ettorre said No.

Shown the pictures taken by Zachary Dennis’ parents of the mark on his arm and asksed if he thought the Tesla coil could leave such a mark, D’Ettorre testified that “I personally have not seen it.” He said he had seen “dots” caused by the Tesla coil.

D’Ettorre testified that there were no written instructions on the use of the Tesla coill, and that he had not looked on the web for them.

While D’Ettorre had Zachary Dennis in 6th grade, he couldn’t remember if Zach participated in D’Ettorre’s Tesla coil demonstrations.l

Hamilton asked D’Ettorre what constituted a “religious display.” He replied that it was something that displayed religion. Asked if he had a religious display in his room, he said no, but he had a Bible in a cabinet. He has seen Freshwater’s Bible, but never saw him reading it or from it in front of students, and never saw Freshwater teach from it.

D’Ettorre testified that he was not aware of any religious items in the Middle School.

Asked about the school’s Controversial Issues policy, D’Ettorre testified that he taought out of his science book. The policy says to stay within the standards/benchmarks/indicators.

Hamilton asked of kids ever asked about Good Friday or Easter. D’Ettorre testified that they did. Asked how he answered, D’Ettorre said he told them that Good Friday was the day our Lord was crucified. (I didn’t hear the Easter answer: D’Ettorre, like many of the witnesses, is soft-spoken and facing away from my chair.) Asked if he was trying to convert children to Christianity, D’Ettorre denied it. Asked if he had any training on how to handle controversial issues, he replied he had not.

D’Ettorre testifed that there was no documentation of a requirement to teach just to the standards/benchmarks/indicators of the Academic Content document. He does not know of any teachers who teach “beyond” the standards. He testified that there were in-service meetings on using the Academic Content document given by a prior Principal. He said that he uses what the school provides by way of books and materials, and occasionally brings in material from home. (Parenthetically I’ll note that my wife teaches high school special ed in the Mt. Vernon schools, and we spend hundreds of dollars per year on materials the school can’t afford to provide.)

D’Ettorre agreed that teachers have wide latitude to bring in resources.

He was asked if kids bring up creationism or ID. I couldn’t hear his answer. Asked if they bring up religion or if he goes to church or if he has a Bible, he said they do.

Hamilton then asked D’Ettorre what “salvation message” means. D’Ettorre answered that “in order to get to heaven, you have to give your heart to the Lord.” Asked if he had ever told a student that, D’Ettorre answered that he had done so.

Asked if he prayed in FCA (where he is 6th grade monitor), D’Ettorre said that he had done so a couple of times, once to give a blessing and once a closing prayer.

Asked if there were other times he prayed with students, D’Ettorre testified that he did so “If students wanted to come to know the Lord and wanted to pray for salvation.” D’Ettorre testified that over the years as many as 60 students had “accepted the Lord” through their membership in FCA and their relationship with D’Ettorre. Asked what it felt like to have saved so many souls, D’Ettorre said “If that’s what the student wants, and you want to have eternity with the Lord, [inaudible].” See the cross examination notes below for more on this topic: D’Ettorre testified that he stopped doing that several years ago.

(I was accurately quoted in the Columbus Dispatch a while ago as saying “It appears to me that Freshwater has been running his own private Christian school embedded in the public schools.” It looks like Freshwater wasn’t the only one.)

Asked about his role in FCA, D’Ettorre replied “law and order.” He testified he’d received no training in being an FCA monitor.

D’Ettorre testified that he was a member of the teacher’s union, the OEA, and was once a negotiator. Asked how a teacher is to resolve problems, he was vague.

D’Ettorre testified that he has worked with Freshwater for roughly 18 years, apparently mostly as a coach. He testified that he has never heard any complaints about Freshwater. Asked if he knew of any evidence that Freshwater’s students had to be “retaught,” he replied only what he’d read in the newspapers. Asked about Freshwater’s work habits, he testifed that as a coach Freshwater was ethical, organized, and that “teachers looked up to him because of his integrity, what he stands for, wisdom.”

Asked his impresion about Freshwater in the community outside school, D’Ettorre testified that his impression was that “he helps others, cares for others, and wants to help people.”

Asked about Principal White’s supervision style, D’Ettorre said he doesn’t see White as much as he did other Principals, though the Middle School administrators divided up grade duties differently in 2007-2008.

Asked if he had received a “Teacher of the Year” award, D’Ettorre said that he had received one. (This is a reference to the “Distinguished Teacher” awards that were handed out on the nomination of … well, of practically anyone. There was no selection process or judging process for them. According to Superintendent Short’s testimony, one could even get that award for being a good committee member.)

Gino D’Ettorre Cross Examination

David Millstone first asked D’Ettorre about his apprehension about testifying, and whether it was due to fear of having been found to have done something improper. D’Ettorre said that it was. He’s close to retirement and is afraid of being fired. (Note that no disciplinary proceeding is under way with respect to D’Ettorre.)

Asked if he has done those improper activities –praying with students, etc. – since he learned it was improper? D’Ettorre said he had not, not since he took a class on religion in the schools at the local Mt. Vernon Nazarene University four or five years ago. Asked about the last time he had prayed in class, he replied not since he took that class.

Asked if he follows the text in teaching, he replied he did. Showed a Board Exhibit, D’Ettorre identified it as the Grade 6 Science Assessment Map, which relates the curriculum to the standards and assessment tests. He participated in preparing it.

Asked if his Principal gave directions if he would follow them, he responded that he would. Asked if he would follow a Principal’s direction to remove something from his room, he replied that he would.

Redirect and Recross

On redirect Hamilton asked D’Ettorre if he knew Tim Keib. D’Ettorre identified Keib as a former assistant Principal and interim Principal preceding White. Hamilton asked if D’Ettorre and Keib had talked about praying with students. He replied that they had. Asked when he learned about not praying in class, he said at the Nazarene class he and his wife took. Asked if he prayed with students after that class, D’Ettorre said he couldn’t recall doing so.

There was no recross.

Barbara Spitzer Direct Examination

Barbara Spitzer is a special education teacher in the Middle School, and was a member of the team of 8th grade teachers of which Freshwater was a member. (The 8th grade teachers are grouped into several multidisciplinary teams.) She said that she had not spoken with the investigators, nor had spoken with anyone about her prospective testimony. She said she had not read the independent investigator’s report.

Asked by Hamilton how often she was in Freshwater’s class, she said she was not in his class in session, that they consulted often about students outside class hours. She said she had never heard a complaint about Freshwater.

She testified that Zachary Dennis was in her language arts classroom two periods a day helping with special ed students. She said that he had never complained to her about Freshwater. She said their relationship was such that she thought he would have no fear of telling her about an injury, and that he had not done so. She heard about the allegations on television.

She testified that she had asked to work with Freshwater because “he gave kids what they needed.” Asked what that was, she said he “gets kids excited about science.”

She testified that she was not aware of religious items in the Middle School, but that she was aware of at least one other teacher with a Bible on her desk, Becky Cronk.

She testified that she was in the union, and that if she had a problem she would first talk with her principal, then the superintendent, then the union.

Asked if she knows what a Tesla coil is, she said she’d seen a picture of one in a newspaper. She said she had heard that some teachers used one in class, but couldn’t remember who.

Spitzer testified that she was not aware of any teachers teaching beyond the standards. She said it was permissible to bring in materials beyond those provided by the school.

She testified that she has never used debates in her classes.

Asked about Freshwater’s teaching style, she characterized it as “hands on, student-oriented.” Asked about his work habits, she said he was ambitious, willing to do what’s asked, willing to modify something if need be, positive.

She testified that her 8th grade team had the LD (learning disabled) and CD (cognitively disabled) IEP students, while other teams had other sorts of IEP students.

She testified that she had helped Freshwater come up with extra credit projects for some students. She said that she had seen “Expelled.”

She said no student had ever told her Freshwater was reading or teaching from the Bible or talking about religion in class.

Barbara Spitzer Cross Examination

Millstone asked the last time Spitzer was in Freshwater’s classroom when he was teaching. She replied 1981-82. That generated some discussion, since Freshwater wasn’t teaching in the system then. She finally decided it was early in his tenure in Mt. Vernon.

Redirect and Recross

Nothing worth recording.

Thus endeth the 11th day. We resume tomorrow morning.

43 Comments

Thanks again for these posts, RBH.

Jordan testified that he has Bibles everywhere – on his desk, in his car, at home by his bed, by his chair, etc. He has 7 Bibles. Other family members also have their own Bibles.

When I hear that I always think, “who are the real materialists?” I don’t know about others, but I’m secure in my faith in God. Others need to find God (salvation, etc.) on their own. If they need my “sales pitch” it’s probably too late.

I agree, this is very illuminating and I appreciate the effort this takes. My impression is that the witnesses didn’t do a whole lot to help Freshwater’s case. D’Ettorre and Spitzer tend to make Freshwater look bad by comparison and I suppose Freshwater’s daughter testifying was inevitable, if sad.

Assuming that the hearing goes against her father, she’ll doubtless feel guilt, that she should have done or said something more to help him.

My own daughter is a fifth grader in another Ohio school system and I hope and trust that there are no Tesla Coils in use anywhere in that system You can be sure I’m going to find out.

Frank J said:

Jordan testified that he has Bibles everywhere – on his desk, in his car, at home by his bed, by his chair, etc. He has 7 Bibles. Other family members also have their own Bibles.

When I hear that I always think, “who are the real materialists?” I don’t know about others, but I’m secure in my faith in God. Others need to find God (salvation, etc.) on their own. If they need my “sales pitch” it’s probably too late.

I read that and thought of C. Loring Brace, one of my Anthropology professor at Michigan and his dictum: “Nothing exceeds like excess”. This fits here perfectly.

Thanks RBH, good posts.

Like D.P. Robin, I don’t really see how these witnesses help Freshwater. It really makes me wonder what Hamilton’s strategy is. Wouldn’t you call your strongest witnesses first? Are these it?

His daughter testifies that he occasionally participated in prayer during FCA meetings and used a tesla coil on students. D’Ettorre admitted to similar conduct (as Freshwater) but then says - unlike Freshwater - he stopped years ago when the administration told him to stop. A second peer serves basically as a character witness, but didn’t actually see or have anything relevant to say about any of the conduct under review. That’s not exactly stellar defense. Very perplexing.

At least there was no repeat of the odd ‘just because they’re bible quotes doesn’t mean its religious’ argument. Maybe his lawyer got smart and figured out it was not in Freshwater’s best interest to proactively bring up his classroom display of bible quotes.

Looking back over my notes in the light of day, I see I omitted to note that Hamilton showed D’Ettorre a poster of George Bush, Colin Powell, Bush’s cabinet praying, and a Bible verse, the poster that was displayed in Freshwater’s classroom. Asked if he’d seen it, D’Ettorre said he had. He testified that some time ago, perhaps after Bush’s inauguration or maybe after 9/11, he found one in his school mailbox, and said there were a number of them in other teachers’ mailboxes – he wasn’t sure how many. He didn’t know their source. He displayed his on a bulletin board behind his desk for several years and then took it down.

The poster is fairly dark in coloration and the Bible verse on it is pretty small.

Jordan testified that he has Bibles everywhere – on his desk, in his car, at home by his bed, by his chair, etc. He has 7 Bibles.

Anybody ever heard of “bibolotry”? Collecting idols and worshiping them…except the idol is a Bible.

You can’t see it but I’m worshipping RBH right now. I know we have all said it before but it’s worth repeating … Thank you!

I do not know C. Loring Brace, but Oscar wilde said,

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

May not fit so well here.

Paul Burnett said:

Jordan testified that he has Bibles everywhere – on his desk, in his car, at home by his bed, by his chair, etc. He has 7 Bibles.

Anybody ever heard of “bibolotry”? Collecting idols and worshiping them…except the idol is a Bible.

I will admit to three Bibles. However, in mitigation, I would note that a) they were all gifts and b) one is a KJV, one a RSV and the last a New English Bible.

It would be instructive to ask Mr Freshwater what versions his Bibles are. Someone who was genuinely interested what the Bible says would want to collect different translations in order to gain a deeper understanding. Multiple copies of one version looks more like the reinforcement of prejudices.

The acid test would be to see if Mr Freshwater crumbles to dust if required to take his oath on a copy of the Catholic Bible.

Kevin B said: I will admit to three Bibles.

I saw one in a store a few years back and just couldn’t resist, so I bought it. Why, you ask? The box it was in had a big, red, round sticker on the front that read:

“30% off: Slightly Imperfect.”

Oh, delicious irony :)

Now that is funny!

I saw the pony-tailed professor C. Loring Brace debate a creationist (don’t remember who) at the University of Michigan back around 1982. Despite the busloads of church youth groups in attendance and I think Brace did *very* well. The gray pony-tail was pretty unusual for the early 80s.

Thank you, Panda’s Thumb, for saving America from one isolated loony. It puts the>1000 dead (>300 children)in Gaza in perspective. And the 16000 murders in USA every year.

Thank you, Novparl, for taking time out from your busy day of rescuing Gazans and saving murder victims, but don’t you think you could have saved one more Gazan or one more US murder victim if you hadn’t taken up your time reading and chastizing the Panda?

“Dear, would you please take out the trash?”

“I don’t have time for that, I have to fight crime!”

“Yes, but Wayne Manor is getting a bit untidy, don’t you think?”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwinw.html

Novparl said:

Thank you, Panda’s Thumb, for saving America from one isolated loony. It puts the>1000 dead (>300 children)in Gaza in perspective. And the 16000 murders in USA every year.

Wow!! Way to go with the red herring there Novparl! Nicely done! Six shiny echinoderms for you for the attempt at derailing the point of the posts!

Of course, one must wonder why you are thanking Panda’s Thumb since as far as I know this site is not involved in Freshwater’s trial at all. In fact, I don’t even think anyone of the major contributors or owners of the site are involved. Seems that a contributor is posting reports about the trial, but that’s all. Now of course this doesn’t do anything about the 16,000 annual murders, but then last time I checked this was a science blog devoted to studies in biological research concerning evolution and debunking creationist nonsense so I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Still, there may be a correlation between reducing ignorance and superstition and reducing murder, so I wouldn’t count PT out entirely just yet, Nov.

Thanks Novparl. Clearly, anyone who isn’t focusing all their efforts on the one biggest problem in the world (whatever that is) is just wasting their time. A good example of this would be, um, you–wasting your time making vacuous comments on an evolutionary biology blog instead of helping fix Gaza or reduce the US murder rate. Asshole.

As far as I can tell, Freshwater has no faith whatsoever, and is merely motivated by a dishonest and authoritarian character.

His defense consists entirely of weaselly denials that he preached the gospel, when in fact, it is clear that he did preach sectarian and controversial religion at taxpayer expense.

I’m an apatheist* and highly sympathetic to people who gain something from an organized religion; I only ask that they don’t violate my rights to live as I see fit.

*I’ve been one all my life but only learned the word recently.

However, I know plenty about Christianity.

One thing it does NOT endorse, in any denomination, is denying and recanting.

You’re supposed to testify your faith in the face of death and torture.

Yet threatened with the minor inconvenience of losing a public school job (but guaranteed to be offered a more suitable job at a wingnut private school), Freshwater wriggles like a snake.

If he doesn’t have the guts to say “Hell, yeah, I teach them that the earth is 6000 years old, evolution is impossible, petroleum and coal are created by magic and are not really ‘fossil’ fuels”, if he dissembles when busted, then he never really believed it in the first place.

Because if he really did believe that the God of Jack Chick was commanding him to preach creationism, he sure as spit wouldn’t dare to deny it in this hearing.

Jordan testified that students took the lead in contacting potential speakers and following up to confirm speakers. She testified that students also mostly filled out the speaker forms that were turned in to her father for signature and to the Principal’s office. She denied that her father ever initially contacted a speaker or suggested a speaker. According to her, Freshwater’s role was to make sure speakers got in the building and knew where to go.

Richards Oct 28th Panda’s Thumb report Freshwaters direct examination states:

Freshwater acknowledged telling Zach to call a couple of speakers and giving him their phone numbers.

She testified that her father used it on an older brother who had a broken leg in a cast, “to stimulate it.”

What on earth…?

mary said:

Jordan testified that students took the lead in contacting potential speakers and following up to confirm speakers. She testified that students also mostly filled out the speaker forms that were turned in to her father for signature and to the Principal’s office. She denied that her father ever initially contacted a speaker or suggested a speaker. According to her, Freshwater’s role was to make sure speakers got in the building and knew where to go.

Richards Oct 28th Panda’s Thumb report Freshwaters direct examination states:

Freshwater acknowledged telling Zach to call a couple of speakers and giving him their phone numbers.

Its entirely possible that Jordan didn’t know everything that her dad told Zach to do. But otherwise, yes, you’re right, the two sworn testimonies (both for the defense!) are contradictory.

Thank you Panda’s Thumb! This is far more informative than what we are getting from either the Columbus “Disgrace” or Mount Vernon News.

http://www.gopetition.com/online/18938.html

harold said:

As far as I can tell, Freshwater has no faith whatsoever, and is merely motivated by a dishonest and authoritarian character.

His defense consists entirely of weaselly denials that he preached the gospel, when in fact, it is clear that he did preach sectarian and controversial religion at taxpayer expense.

I’m an apatheist* and highly sympathetic to people who gain something from an organized religion; I only ask that they don’t violate my rights to live as I see fit.

*I’ve been one all my life but only learned the word recently.

However, I know plenty about Christianity.

One thing it does NOT endorse, in any denomination, is denying and recanting.

You’re supposed to testify your faith in the face of death and torture.

Yet threatened with the minor inconvenience of losing a public school job (but guaranteed to be offered a more suitable job at a wingnut private school), Freshwater wriggles like a snake.

If he doesn’t have the guts to say “Hell, yeah, I teach them that the earth is 6000 years old, evolution is impossible, petroleum and coal are created by magic and are not really ‘fossil’ fuels”, if he dissembles when busted, then he never really believed it in the first place.

Because if he really did believe that the God of Jack Chick was commanding him to preach creationism, he sure as spit wouldn’t dare to deny it in this hearing.

You raise a very interesting point, Harold. I can’t think of a major creationist who has put his or her beliefs on his or her sleeve in the movement to remove evolution from public science or change science such that biblically-based belief of human divine uniqueness can be taught. This is far from the type of movement that Martin Luther King Jr. walked - a passive preaching of what they believe is right. Why hasn’t anyone from the Disco tute done that? Why isn’t this a movement of protest in front of the Supreme Court saying, “Hey! Biblical claims are true and should be legal to teach in our schools as science and fact!!!” Why isn’t that the essence of this effort rather than the dubious and deceitful offer of “science” that is ID?

Robin said: Why hasn’t anyone from the Disco tute done that? Why isn’t this a movement of protest in front of the Supreme Court saying, “Hey! Biblical claims are true and should be legal to teach in our schools as science and fact!!!”

It could just be selection bias. The subset of fundamentalists that are politically vocal about education may not be an accurate representation of the fundamentalist community as a whole. For intstance, its entirely possible tat the fundamentalists who are unwilling to hide/sacrifice their religious beliefs may simply accept the legal rulings of the past 26+ years and move on, either quietly homeschooling their kids or accepting a secular school system. Leaving in the public spotlight only those fundamentalists unwilling to ‘render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ (i.e. accept that government rulings do not always coincide with religious rulings).

Eric said -

It could just be selection bias.

I’m sure it is, and I agree with what he said, but there’s another type of selection bias that he left out.

In my experience, most very sincere followers of fundamentalist religions are education-deprived.

When they, that is, sincere and honest people who had accepted a fundamentalist religion for valid cultural reasons, get more education, they tend to adopt religious beliefs that are less concrete and simple-minded. They may do so without actually making a major change in religious practices, but they tend to do so.

However, fundamentalist, authoritarian religions naturally tend to appeal to those who are consciously or unconsciously manipulative and exploitive. I don’t think I need to defend this obvious point very strongly.

I observe that more educated people who claim to be creationists can often be seen to have transparent ulterior motives, at least in my subjective (but reasonable and constitutionally protected) point of view.

Unlike “fellows” of the Dissembling Institute, Freshwater hasn’t managed to get paid directly for creating or distributing creationist garbage. As far as I know, that is.

Nevertheless, he fits a similar profile.

He wants to get something from his professed Christianity. In his case, it merely seems to be the satisfaction of getting lots of attention and manipulating the minds of teenagers.

But he only wants to take from Jesus. Never to give.

He doesn’t want to be punished for his beliefs, not even to the extent of having to leave a job in a profane secular school.

He’s quite willing to teach the kids that Christianity claims that the giraffe couldn’t have evolved today, and to have his lawyer imply that he was only trying to show how silly it would be to say such a thing tomorrow.

Either he doesn’t think Jesus said that in the first place but claimed it, to manipulate the kids, or he does think that Jesus said that, but he’s willing to throw Jesus under a bus when challenged.

FSM_Ed said:

Thank you Panda’s Thumb! This is far more informative than what we are getting from either the Columbus “Disgrace” or Mount Vernon News.

http://www.gopetition.com/online/18938.html

Bear in mind that those reporters are working to deadlines and under severe space contraints. No way could they publish a 3,000+ word account as I am able to do.

eric said:

It could just be selection bias. The subset of fundamentalists that are politically vocal about education may not be an accurate representation of the fundamentalist community as a whole.

I am sure of this. I have known plenty of conservative Christians who have no problem with Darwin, and some who don’t like Darwin but don’t regard fighting over him as important, their focus being on other conservative Christian issues.

Indeed, I have known conservative Christians who were about the nicest, most reasonable folks one could meet. Unfortunately, these are not the folks who are hanging around, much less posting to, EVOLUTION NEWS & VIEWS and UNCOMMON DESCENT, who in general easily fit many or all of the unpleasant stereotypes of conservative Christianity. And there are plenty of such folks out there.

I have always found it somewhat remarkable that the evo science community seems relatively more inclined to religion-bashing than other fields of science, but it makes sense: “If the only Christians you met were all flaming lunatic-fringe nutcases, you’d have a completely negative view of religion, too.”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net

MRG -

Do you live in the US or Canada?

Indeed, I have known conservative Christians who were about the nicest, most reasonable folks one could meet.

In the US and Canada, “conservative” Christian by definition means -

1) Endorsing denial of basic civil rights to homosexuals (not just right to marriage, although that one seems pretty basic to me).

2) Endorsing false claims to discourage use of contraception.

3) Endorsing all political actions by Israel, but with the ultimate hope that Israel will be the site of Armageddon and Jews will die and burn in Hell.

4) Denial of human caused climate change.

5) Related to “2)”, insistence that foreign aid be tied to heavy-handed anti-contraception policies.

6) Strong criticism of women who step outside the “obedient dependent wife role” (ostensibly to promote the well-being of children but in reality equally directed at women who have many thriving children).

And I must add -

7) An overwhelming refusal to live by their own rules - so that use of the worst drugs and attraction to the most controversial and often illegal romantic acts seems to be above the population mean by many standard deviations. Also routine hypocrisy like heckling women with careers, even if their families are happy, but cheering Sarah Palin, an ambitious woman whose children appear troubled for one reason or another.

And of course -

8) Denial of evolution.

I can absolutely assure you that failure to endorse any of the above (with the exception of “7)” ) results in loss of acceptance as a “conservative Christian”. The only thing I have seen young conservative Christians buck on is the global warming denial, and that’s created tremendous controversy.

Young “conservative Christians”, including active creationists, can and sometimes do adopt certain mainstream “cool” trends, such as tattoos, funky haircuts, and the like, but they don’t waver on the stuff that really matters, like the homophobia and misogyny.

If you’re a Christian, and you disagree with one or more of the above, and you consider yourself “conservative”, well, I’m sorry to inform you, but US and Canadian standards, you are NOT a “conservative Christian”. That term has a meaning, it refers to a certain subculture, and the above are the characteristics of the subculture.

I have no problem with religious Christians, nor Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, nor Buddhists, all of whom I count among my friends (I live in a diverse area).

But in anglophone North America, “conservative Christian” has a certain meaning, and while it may well be possible to be a “nice” conservative Christian, and probably is, it does not seem to me that it is possible to be a “reasonable” one.

And that’s mainly because all of the traits relate to public policy that affects everyone.

You see, I consider a person who supports a free and tolerant society, while personally believing that gays and scientists burn in Hell, to be a “reasonable” person, as long as they support a free and tolerant society, and rely on their own attempts at persuasion to voluntarily convert others to their view.

But that isn’t at all what conservative Christians do.

The term has an understood meaning.

harold said:

3) Endorsing all political actions by Israel, but with the ultimate hope that Israel will be the site of Armageddon and Jews will die and burn in Hell.

Actually, many Conservative Christians hope that the Jews, or at least the vast majority of them, will be converted to Christianity prior to Armageddon.

Mike G of (bilingual) Ottawa

Pourquoi pensez-vous que je veux “chatier” la Pouce du Panda? Je suis tres admiratif.

What makes you think I want to “chastise” the P’s Th? I’m full of admiration.

Bonne journée.

harold said:

But in anglophone North America, “conservative Christian” has a certain meaning, and while it may well be possible to be a “nice” conservative Christian, and probably is, it does not seem to me that it is possible to be a “reasonable” one.

I would consider examples of such to be Glenn Morton and Denis Lamoureux. If one were to ask them if they were conservative Christians, they would say “yes”, and who would be in a credible position to call them liars?

I tend to be middle-of-the-road on politics and see nothing more or less reasonable to conservative views than to liberal views. Either can go around the bend. Now I suppose someone could nitpick over the definition of the term “conservative Christian” versus “rightist Christian” or whatever, but this is a semantic argument.

I’ve worked with and known a lot of people who would call themselves conservative Christians. Some of them were nutcases like Freshwater; some of them were pleasant, trustworthy, and by all evidence as reasonable as anyone else I’ve ever met. They may have had some strange ideas they didn’t tell me about, but I didn’t to ask, and I didn’t know what they were – and I could say pretty much the same thing about anyone else I’ve met. I should add that I don’t see us humans as fundamentally reasonable beings to begin with, and in my experience the pretensions of some factions to claim they are an exception to be laughable self-deception. But some folks are more reasonable than others.

It may be a moot point. There are plenty of crazies on the battle lines out there, and the fight goes on. But in my experience I have known people who called themselves conservative Christians who I had no cause to believe to be any less reasonable than anyone else. And if someone wants to say: “I don’t buy that!” – all I can do is hold up my hands and say: “Sorry, that’s just my experience whether anyone buys it or not, what can I say?”

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwinw.html

Stanton said -

Actually, many Conservative Christians hope that the Jews, or at least the vast majority of them, will be converted to Christianity prior to Armageddon.

I’d have to check, but I believe that Revelations implies that something other than this will happen.

mrg -

I don’t mean to sound strident; I’m just clarifying common usage of the term.

I would consider examples of such to be Glenn Morton and Denis Lamoureux. If one were to ask them if they were conservative Christians, they would say “yes”, and who would be in a credible position to call them liars?

I certainly wouldn’t call anyone I “liar” because they used a term in an honest but mistakenly misleading way.

I happened to look at their biographies. Denis Lamoureux has fairly impressive academic credentials. It wasn’t clear to me where he stood on fundamentalist issues that are unrelated to science.

I tend to be middle-of-the-road on politics and see nothing more or less reasonable to conservative views than to liberal views. Either can go around the bend. Now I suppose someone could nitpick over the definition of the term “conservative Christian” versus “rightist Christian” or whatever, but this is a semantic argument.

Yes, it is semantic, but it isn’t really nitpicking. Political labels have understood meanings.

If someone were to go around calling themselves a “leftist”, and it turned out that they meant that they favored left-side-of-the-road-driving, I would suggest to that person that they were creating confusion, as the term “leftist” already has a common use and implies something else.

I’d like to emphasize that I never have a problem with anyone’s personal beliefs, as long as they respect the rights of others in this material world that we now inhabit.

I don’t view people as “unreasonable” for holding and expressing non-disprovable private beliefs about what is sinful, who will go to hell, etc, even if I disagree.

I do see private beliefs that deny scientific reality as “unreasonable” by definition, but I strongly support the right of people to be unreasonable. I object only when they try to use the apparatus of the state to force public policy to follow their unreasonable views.

Nevertheless, the term “conservative Christian” - and not the term “rightist Christian, although you and I may agree that this would be more accurate - has been co-opted to apply to a certain set of political, social, and anti-scientific ideals.

I don’t want to belabor it any further, as this is a discussion of subjectively-defined terms. I do know that if someone tells me that they are a “conservative Christian”, 99.99% of the time, they mean that they are a Sarah Palin-loving person who holds the views I described above. (I forgot to add, “strong approval of war and jingoism, in frank denial of the ‘literal’ Bible and Christian tradition”.)

If some highly reasonable guy wants to use the same term as these people, with a different definition, he’s innocent of everything except creating minor confusion. But he is creating confusion.

harold said:

I don’t mean to sound strident; I’m just clarifying common usage of the term …

I don’t want to belabor it any further, as this is a discussion of subjectively-defined terms.

Yeah, I hate to get into a fight over semantics when I don’t see that we really disagree on anything of substance. In the Darwin wars the Other Side is a gang of crazies, no argument about it, and what particular terms are used to describe them is not so big an issue.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwinw.html

While you guys are having a friendly debate on who is a conservative Christian, let’s not forget about Ben Stein and Michael Medved. Or the self-proclaimed agnostic David Berlinski.

Yeah, I think in particular the DI has been able to mobilize the secular anti-science lunatic fringe into the big tent. There’s a certain class of people who are inclined to attack evo science for no real reason other than that it is the conventional wisdom. But I would, as a flat guess, believe they amount to as much as 10% of the total of the Darwin-basher community as being generous to them.

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

Frank J said: While you guys are having a friendly debate on who is a conservative Christian, let’s not forget about Ben Stein and Michael Medved.

So let’s all take a quick look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ[…]structionism or http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm. These are the right-wingnut evolution-denialists that want every American to be a Christian, killing or deporting any who don’t agree with replacing the Constitution with the bloodier portions of the Old Testament - their version of the Taliban’s Sharia Law.

And that’s who’s behind the Dishonesty Institute: “Anti-evolution crusader Phillip Johnson, dedicated his 1997 book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, to “Roberta and Howard, who understood ‘the wedge’ because they love the Truth.” (referring to Howard Ahmanson) - see http://www.texscience.org/files/discovery.htm.

These are the anti-evolution “conservative Christians” I worry about.

mrg and Paul:

Of course the great majority of anti-evolution activists and followers are Christians. Nothing in my comment denies that. Unfortunately the casual reader of these threads might get the wrong impression that every single one is a Christian.

Also worth noting, if only because it’s usually presented as an afterthought if at all, is that many of the more casual followers are not even fundamentalists. While the activists - speaking of multimillionaire Ahmanson, I still haven’t heard whether he helped the Dover defendants with their legal fees - and their core followers should never be taken lightly, I’m more concerned about the casual followers. They’re not likely to see “Expelled” let alone rave about it, but they do tend to parrot sound bites like “I hear the jury’s still out about evolution” and “it’s only fair to teach both sides.”

Yeah, I accept that there is a group of Darwin-bashers that isn’t part of the Religious Right (note to “harold”, that’s the term I use for what he’d call “conservative Christian’) – and in fact all three of the guys mentioned by Frank J are Jewish, though only Medved seems to maintain religious practice.

However, I think everybody agrees that the Religious Right grossly dominates the movement in the USA. I guess the only axe I have to grind is to not assume that folks belonging to conservative Christian sects are all Darwin-bashers. I get a bit exasperated because the war over evo science so often becomes a war over religion.

Given the bent of the Darwin-bashers and the fact that a good chunk of folks on the evo science side of the fence have religion-bashing as a high priority, it seems to be inevitable. Personally, if people want to squabble over religion, they can have at it for all I care, but as far as the defense of evo science goes, it seems to just complicate matters: “One war at a time.”

Besides, the science case for evo science is really the heavy weaponry in that argument. The Darwin-bashers can’t do more than throw up clouds of flim-flam against it, though I must hand them that they are energetic in doing so and only too successful in muddying the waters.

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

I’m trying to catch up on PT (among other blogs) after something of a year end hiatus, and I must say I’m impressed with RBH’s article series.

mrg (iml8) said: Personally, if people want to squabble over religion, they can have at it for all I care, but as far as the defense of evo science goes, it seems to just complicate matters: “One war at a time.”

Well, as we all know people are complex creatures, capable of reacting to multiple stimuli. I think strategies that fail to consider human nature is doomed from the start.

But more than that, science is a child of enlightenment, where strands of rationality was interwoven to a strong fabric. Incessantly tearing on that is such forces as religion, with its basis in organized superstition. (As these posts attest to.) Unfortunately the enemies of reason makes it one war, but on several fronts, and the only known key to success is to support rationality in all its facets as was done before.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

Well, as we all know people are complex creatures, capable of reacting to multiple stimuli. I think strategies that fail to consider human nature is doomed from the start.

Strategies that divide one’s own side against itself in the face of a determined adversary – and adopt an indiscriminate approach that simply undermines support by broad sections of the public who might otherwise be sympathetic, instead of focusing on the adversary’s blatant weakness – don’t do so well for themselves, either.

In quarrels many people fall back on the principle of the thing – which is generally fine – but forget tactical reality: principles don’t tell us to decide to capture a certain crossroads, we spend the blood and resources to capture the crossroads because we have determined it will support our movements and block movement to an adversary. It may be human nature to fight indiscriminately; is it any less human nature to play chess? Which mindset wins battles?

Early in the US Civil War, Secretary of State Seward tried to talk President Lincoln into starting a war with Britain, the idea being that the North and South would then reunify against a common enemy. (Seward was not foolish but he let his Anglophobia carry him away at times.) Mr. Lincoln replied in his droll fashion: “One war at a time.”

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

This is just disgusting. I can’t believe how many obvious lies his daughter told on the stand. Why is lying for Jesus okay?

Ryan Cunningham said:

This is just disgusting. I can’t believe how many obvious lies his daughter told on the stand. Why is lying for Jesus okay?

Because it’s the only way their delusions can survive. And deep down, they know it.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 15, 2009 12:33 AM.

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