Freshwater: October 28 hearing notes

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The administrative hearing on the termination of John Freshwater resumed Wednesday, October 28, and also met Thursday and Friday. I missed most of Wednesday, but hope to have a summary from another spectator sometime soon. This is a summary of the testimony I heard Wednesday morning.

“Coach” David Daubenmire Direct Examination

The first witness Wednesday was “Coach” David Daubenmire. Daubenmire once taught and coached in the MT. Vernon school system, and then left to teach and coach in London, Ohio, where he and the district were sued by the ACLU for praying with his football players. That case was settled out of court just before going to trial, with the district paying costs. Daubenmire left teaching in 2000 to found Pass the Salt Ministries. He claims a Ph.D. in “scriptural psychology” from some school – possibly Faith Bible College in Missouri. He also claims to be an adjunct professor at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, where he taught a couple of continuing education classes for teachers, one a two-day workshop on religion in the classroom that Freshwater attended in the early 2000s. That class used a text called Finding Common Ground, which appears to be an eminently respectable guide to religion in public schools and First Amendment issues. A copy was introduced as an exhibit in the hearing.

Daubenmire was also the organizer of “Minutemen United” (whose web site now appears to be defunct; see the pages preserved in the Internet Archive) through which he coordinated picketing at abortion clinics (he testified to that); allegedly photographed license plates of patrons of a nearby strip club and posted them on the web somewhere (I haven’t been able to find documentation of that; see note at the end of this post); and disrupting services at a Baptist church that is accepting of the LGBT community. According to Daubenmire’s testimony, Freshwater joined the Minutemen United Saturday morning picketing at a Columbus abortion clinic several times.

Daubenmire had spoken several times at the middle school and high school Fellowship of Christian Athletes prior to the Freshwater affair. He said his main message was “Living out your faith boldly.” In September 2007 he was invited (by a student) to speak again at the middle school FCA. On his arrival Daubenmire was met by Freshwater who told him there was a problem and that he would not be allowed to speak. Later that day Daubenmire met with Superintendent Steve Short, who Daubenmire says is a good Christian man, who told Daubenmire that he had received a complaint about Daubenmire speaking from a parent. Daubenmire testified that “If I had been a Muslim speaker Mr. Short would have allowed me to speak.”

Daubenmire testified that at that time he was “spittin’ hot” and warned Freshwater that ‘they’ were out to get him, and that he had to push back. He said Freshwater was reluctant to make waves, and that he’d wait and see what happened. Daubenmire testified that he can “smell bigotry,” and that “someone was definitely engaging in viewpoint discrimination.” He testified that he told Freshwater “This isn’t about FCA, it’s about you. If it were me I’d fight back now.” He told Freshwater that if it were him, he’d bring suit. He referred to Superintendent Steve Short as “The man behind the curtain.”

The main burden of Daubenmire’s testimony was that he took responsibility for having organized the April 16, 2008, public demonstration in Mt. Vernon to bring attention to the Freshwater situation. According to Daubenmire, Freshwater called him the morning of April 16 to seek advice, since the school administration had instructed him to remove his Bible from his desk. Daubenmire testified that he told Freshwater “What did I tell you in September, that it’s not about FCA … I can smell it … I see where this is going … I told you so.” He testified that he told Freshwater, “I’m not going to stand by and watch this happen. … you have to take the first strike … I’m going to start working on a statement.”

Daubenmire said he immediately sat down to write a press release, and called a press conference on the public square in Mt. Vernon that afternoon by emailing and faxing reporters. He also called Jeff Cline, a Mt. Vernon resident, to alert him to the press conference. Cline, who has lectured the Board of Education about the “homosexual agenda” on at least one occasion, apparently spread the word in Mt. Vernon to raise a crowd.

Daubenmire said he called Freshwater that afternoon and told him that “they’re are going to take your job and you’re going to spend years trying to get your job back.”

A few minutes before the press conference was due to start, Daubenmire testified that he met with Freshwater and his wife in a hardware store parking lot near the square and showed him the statement he, Daubenmire, had written explaining Freshwater’s position. He testified that Freshwater said words to the effect that ‘If that’s what I’m saying, I should read the statement.’

On their walk to the public square Daubenmire said they met John Fair, a former teacher and coach (and husband of a member of the Mt. Vernon board of education). Daubenmire said that Fair told him, “This is even deeper [possibly “dirtier”] than you know.” Fair later testified that he said no such thing but rather either Freshwater or Daubenmire [I’ll know which sometime soon, I hope] told him that, and that he did not attend the rally but was merely walking past it on his way from the hardware store to his home and that as far as he could see it was all over when he was passing through the public square. This account of Fair’s testimony is second-hand based on a conversation with a spectator the next day of the hearing. Again, I hope to have a first-hand account from a spectator in the hearing. (Note that the Mt. Vernon News has a different version of what Daubenmire claimed Fair said. I’m confident of my quotation.)

Freshwater then read Daubenmire’s statement at the rally and immediately left. Daubenmire stayed, talking with onlookers and reporters.

Daubenmire’s testimony also included numerous asides in which Daubenmire extolled his own role in the situation. He said several times, “It’s what I do. I call press conferences to bring attention to things.” Of his own effectiveness, he said, “I can tell a story about a dog that would make a cat cry.” The basic point of his testimony was that he, Daubenmire, was the initiator and driver of the public hoorah on April 16, and that Freshwater was a passive participant, reading the statement that Daubenmire wrote and then departing. Daubenmire testified that “I kind of threw him in the middle of the fight.”

The Mount Vernon News quoted Daubenmire as saying

“The foundation of our country is Christian,” Daubenmire said. “It is a religion, but atheism is a religion and secular humanism is a religion and they are taught in school.”

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Daubenmire said

“Our culture is Christian. The foundation of our laws is Christian,” he said. “We’ve become so afraid of religion in America that we won’t even acknowledge what’s happened. But it’s history.”

I heard words to those effects but they didn’t make it into my notes as direct quotations. I’ll note that in a local call-in radio show in September 2007 Daubenmire also remarked about “evolutionist religion.” I know that because I was the caller about whom Daubenmire made the remark. The man is about even with Ray Comfort, which is a real tough level to reach.

Later Daubenmire was asked by Freshwater’s advisers, notably Pastor Don Matolyak, to withdraw from participation in the affair, that he was told that “it would be best if he (Daubenmire) weren’t around.” He showed some apparent resentment at that. I recall a radio program around that time in which ‘Coach’ was considerably irritated at having been pushed out of active participation in Freshwater’s resistance, though I can’t find it archived.

I had to leave for a physician’s appointment in Columbus and missed the rest of Wednesday’s testimony. After Daubenmire’s direct and cross examination were finished, John Fair testified briefly, denying that he said what was attributed to him by Daubenmire. Then Tim Keib, who was assistant principal and for several months interim principal in the middle school during the relevant period was called and began his direct examination by R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney. The Mount Vernon News has a pretty detailed account of the remainder of Wednesday’s testimony.

More on Thursday and Friday as I get to them.

Relevant news stories:
Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday (See also this followup that describes Daubenmire’s motivation to encourage Freshwater to make a public fuss
MVNews on Wednesday
MVNews on Thursday
MVNews on Friday

Note added 11/2/09 re: Daubenmire and the strip club: As far as I can see now there’s no detectable connection between Daubenmire and the activities at the strip club. There once existed a site called “www.stopthefox.com/” at which the license plate photos were apparently posted, but the internet archive has only the background skin of the site. So I cannot support the rumor that Daubenmire was involved in that situation.

For those interested (purely academically, of course!) here is a story in a college newspaper by a coed who visited the strip club.

11 Comments

As always, thanks for your reports, Richard.

C’mon, folks - go read some of the local news articles and write a comment - I’m having a “debate” in the Mount Vernon News right now. The yokels need to know there’s a larger world out there.

Whoa! I just ran on to this rant in which Coach Dave refers to the public schools as “synagogues of Satan.” Interestingly, that’s the same phrase used by the Christian Dominionist Chalcedon Foundation, which was/is supported by Howard Ahmanson, Jr., funder of the Disco ‘Tute:

Jesus was very clear: A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Yet, good people are compromising their Christian principles and entertaining the idea of sending their children to the humanistic, statist, materialistic, atheistic synagogues of satan because the dad has been laid off and mom needs to go to work.

Hat tip to The Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes for the pointer to Daubenmire’s rant.

Whoa! I just ran on to this rant in which Coach Dave refers to the public schools as “synagogues of Satan.”

Well, thanks to you “Darwinists” all the other kinds of school have been shut down, and homeschooling was declared illegal, so that’s the only place they have left to teach. You think these “fine upstanding conservatives” enjoy having to take taxpayers’ dollars to teach? Of course not, but you “Darwinists” took away all their other options.

What’s that?…You didn’t take away all their other options?…Ohhhh…Never mind. ;-)

He also claims to be an adjunct professor at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, where he taught a couple of continuing education classes for teachers, one a two-day workship on religion in the classroom that Freshwater attended in the early 2000s. That class used a text called Finding Common Ground, which appears to be an eminently respectable guide to religion in public schools and First Amendment issues. A copy was introduced as an exhibit in the hearing.

I would be very surprised given the teacher, Daubenmire, a religious fanatic, and a Nazarene college, if this wasn’t a class on how to sneak fundie xianity into public schools without getting caught.

Given Daubenmire’s track record, it also probably isn’t very good, at least at not getting caught. He no longer teaches in public schools and seems bitter enough to label them, “synagogues of satan”. I can imagine what he thinks of the colleges and universities in the USA. Stanford and the like must be the “Temples of satan” or “Hells Gateways” or something.

I really wish these clowns would stop trying to turn the USA into a fundie cult theocracy. If they want to live in a theocracy, they should find one and join it.

Interestingly, that’s the same phrase used by the Christian Dominionist Chalcedon Foundation, which was/is supported by Howard Ahmanson, Jr., funder of the Disco ‘Tute:

Chalcedon is also notorious for advocating the stoning to death of disobedient children as it says in Deuteronomy.

My natal sect of xianity never said anything about killing kids because god said so. I suspect 99% of the members would have grabbed their kids and left for good.

Chalcedon foundation bsceweb.org.

Stoning disobedient children to death.Contempt for Parental Authority:

Those who consider death as a horrible punishment here must realise that in such a case as ….cut for length Rev. William Einwechter, “Modern Issues in Biblical Perspective: Stoning Disobedient Children”, The Chalcedon Report, January 1999

Chalcedon seems to consist of religious fanatics who are potential child killers. I don’t know that letting potential child killers teach in public schools profiles as a good idea.

If they want to live in a theocracy, they should find one and join it.

The thing about that is that if they joined an existing one, they’d be joining it at the bottom, under the already established leadership. That’s presumably not the position they want in their theocracy.

Henry

RBH…wonderful update!

Re: photos of license plates. As my memory serves me, the website (which I can’t find now!) belonged to the Polished Shaft Ministries. I remember this because of the tie between shaft and stripper poles! You may find a link - whether it works or not - in the archives of MVOhio. I will also say that I don’t specifically remember Daubenmire’s name being mentioned during the forum discussion and that it was definitely prior to the public airing of the Freshwater affair.

I also find it interesting that the “distancing” was addressed. This has weighed in my mind for some time, wondering where the rift was. It actually confirms my suspicions that “Coach” was asked to back away - one can only venture a guess as to the reasons.

raven said:

Chalcedon foundation bsceweb.org.

Stoning disobedient children to death.Contempt for Parental Authority:

Those who consider death as a horrible punishment here must realise that in such a case as ….cut for length Rev. William Einwechter, “Modern Issues in Biblical Perspective: Stoning Disobedient Children”, The Chalcedon Report, January 1999

Chalcedon seems to consist of religious fanatics who are potential child killers. I don’t know that letting potential child killers teach in public schools profiles as a good idea.

I think Ahmandson once said that he didn’t agree entirely with Rushdoony. Rushdooney thought that it was necessary for governments to stone people for immoral acts. Ahmandson said that it was simply permissable to do so.

Debbie Henthorn said:

RBH…wonderful update!

Re: photos of license plates. As my memory serves me, the website (which I can’t find now!) belonged to the Polished Shaft Ministries. I remember this because of the tie between shaft and stripper poles! You may find a link - whether it works or not - in the archives of MVOhio. I will also say that I don’t specifically remember Daubenmire’s name being mentioned during the forum discussion and that it was definitely prior to the public airing of the Freshwater affair.

I also find it interesting that the “distancing” was addressed. This has weighed in my mind for some time, wondering where the rift was. It actually confirms my suspicions that “Coach” was asked to back away - one can only venture a guess as to the reasons.

I thought you were joking and then I did a quick google on “Polished Shaft Ministries”.

Do these people have any sense of irony at all?

Chip Poirot said: I thought you were joking and then I did a quick google on “Polished Shaft Ministries”.

Do these people have any sense of irony at all?

The short answer is “no”. :)

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 1, 2009 12:42 PM.

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