The Firing of John Freshwater

Mount Veron, Ohio Middle School

Mount Vernon, Ohio is a small town with a big headache. The community of 15,000 in Central Ohio is divided over the actions of John Freshwater, a person found to be using his position as a middle school science teacher to undermine the separation of church and state, to teach creationism and intelligent design in his classrooms, and to even burn crosses on the arms of his students.

Yet, despite Mr. Freshwater’s behavior, quite a few people in Mount Vernon support him. Apparently among his most ardent supporters are the members of a local Christian group that calls itself “Minutemen United“, and who envision themselves as existing “…to wage war against a culture of God-haters”.

The division in the community began back in early April when Mr. Freshwater received a letter from his principal, William D. White, ordering him to remove all religious materials from his classroom.

Mr. Freshwater responded a little over a week later. In a letter to Principal White, he agreed to remove the Ten Commandments from his door, along with some biblical posters and spare Bibles from his classroom, but he refused to remove his personal Bible from where it was displayed on his desk.

“In addition, my superiors have ordered me to remove the Bible from the desk of my classroom. Because the Bible is personal, private property and the source of personal inner-strength in my own life the removal of it from my desk would be nothing short of infringement on my own deeply held, personal religious beliefs granted by God and guaranteed under the ‘free-exercise clause’ of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Mr. Freshwater wrote.

Mr. Freshwater soon thereafter gathered about 100 people together on Mount Vernon’s public square and read a declaration of his God-given and Constitutional right to keep his Bible on his desk. Within a couple days, some former students of his organized a rally for him which was attended by “hundreds of students [from both the high school and the middle school], joined by some parents and community members…”.

Up until this point the issue was being spun by Mr. Freshwater as solely a matter of whether he could keep his personal Bible on display in his classroom. But then the local newspaper, The Mount Vernon News, received a fax from an attorney representing anonymous plaintiffs. The fax read in part:

We are religious people, but we were offended when Mr. Freshwater burned a cross onto the arm of our child. This was done in science class in December 2007, where an electric shock machine was used to burn our child. The burn was severe enough that our child awoke that night with severe pain, and the cross remained there for several weeks. … We have tried to keep this a private matter and hesitate to tell the whole story to the media for fear that we will be retaliated against.

We are Christians who practice our faith where it belongs, at church and in our home and, most importantly, outside the public classroom, where the law requires a separation of church and state.

The plaintiffs — who wished to remain anonymous to prevent their child from being retaliated against — made clear in the fax that this was not about Mr. Freshwater’s Bible, which they did not object to, “but about the violation of laws and defiance of school policy”.

By the time the School Board met to discuss the matter, many more allegations had surfaced. Consequently, the Board met in executive session to decide to have an independent organization investigate the allegations, and Superintendent Steve Short announced, “The allegations against Mr. Freshwater are very serious. This is not about his personal Bible on his desktop. It is about the totality of his conduct.”

The organization that investigated Mr. Freshwater was HR on Call, a human resources company. It took all of May and most of June to pour over the records, interview people, and otherwise research the matter. Yesterday, the Company released it’s report. Among the findings:

•Mr. Freshwater did burn a cross onto the complaining family’s child’s arm using an electrostatic device not designed for that purpose. While there did not appear to be any intent by Mr. Freshwater to cause injury to any student, he was not using the device for its intended purpose. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement he simply made an “X” not a “cross,” all of the students described the marking as a “cross” and the pictures provided depict a “cross.”

•The Ten Commandments together with other posters of a religious nature were posted in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom. Most were removed after Mr. White’s letter of April 14, 2008, but at least one poster remained which Mr. Freshwater was again instructed to remove on April 16, 2008, but did not do so.

•Several Bibles were kept in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom including his personal Bible on his desk and one he checked out of the library placed on the lab table near the desk. Other Bibles that had been maintained in the room were removed by the time the investigators viewed Mr. Freshwater’s room.

•Mr. Freshwater engaged in teaching of a religious nature, teaching creationism and related theories and calling evolution into question. He had other materials in his classroom that could be used for that purpose.

•Mr. Freshwater engaged in prayer during FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] meetings in violation of the district’s legal obligations for monitoring such organizations.

•Mr. Freshwater participated and possibly led a prayer during an FCA meeting that concerned a guest speaker’s health. There is no conclusion as to whether such prayer was a “healing” prayer.

•There is no evidence Mr. Freshwater made statements about FCA members “being the saved ones” nor was there any corroboration to the allegation Mr. Freshwater gave FCA members Bibles for them to distribute. He did have two boxes of Bibles in the back of his room.

•Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.

So a story that began with a middle school science teacher’s refusal to remove a Bible from display on his desk had now turned into a bizarre tale of cross burnings, proselytizing, undermining the separation of church and state, and teaching creationism and intelligent design in a public school. But the single most astonishing act in the drama was yet to come.

Yesterday’s report reveals Mr. Freshwater has a long history of complaints against him — all of which have been more or less ignored until the most recent ones. John Freshwater has taught at Mount Vernon Middle School for 21 years. For at least the past 11 years, he has been the subject of numerous complaints lodged against him by his fellow teachers, his students, and their parents.

His colleagues over at the high school, for instance, claim his teaching of evolution is so flawed they are forced to re-teach the subject to his students when they get into high school. It has also come out that Mr. Freshwater has been told on at least several occasions to change his behavior, but has refused to do so. Only now, years after the complaints first started coming in, has anything been done about them.

Today, Friday, the School Board “…unanimously passed a resolution of intent to consider the termination of [Mr. Freshwater's] teaching contract. “Board president Ian Watson said the board will proceed with termination at its meeting on July 7, unless Freshwater files a written request for a hearing within 10 days of receiving notice of the board’s intent to fire him.”

Yet even before today’s School Board news, Mr. Freshwater’s friends were aiming to payback the Board. The melodramatic Minutemen United group earlier this week launched a drive to recall the School Board. Although the drive does not seem to have much chance of succeeding, it might indicate just how hot tempers are in Mount Vernon these days.

Minutemen United was founded by David Daubenmire, a man who was himself sued by the ACLU in 1999 for leading the high school football team he coached in prayer. Mr. Daubenmire is a close friend of Mr. Freshwater and has called the accusations against him a “witch hunt”. Mr. Daubenmire has said:

The science experiment [the alleged burning of the student] took place in December, and the parents did not go to the police and didn’t file a criminal complaint. It was not until April, when John Freshwater refused to remove his Bible, that the school board rapidly made the decision to accuse him of things and then go back and find evidence.

With the exception of the science experiment, John Freshwater is teaching the beliefs and values that the majority of people in this community agree with. The only thing the On Call report found is evidence that Mr. Freshwater is a Christian.

So, Mr. Daubenmire is still trying to spin the story as merely about John Freshwater displaying a Bible.

There is much more to this story than I have the space for — so I have provided references and further reading at the end of this post. It occurs to me, however, that we have here one instance of what’s going on in many hundreds — even thousands — of science classrooms across the country. Teachers entrusted to teach science are instead teaching creationism and intelligent design.

A team led by Michael Berkman recently polled 2,000 high school science teachers across the nation. Sixteen percent of them — about one in every six teachers — identified themselves as creationists. Moreover:

…a quarter of the teachers also reported spending at least some time teaching about creationism or intelligent design. Of these, 48 percent — about 12.5 percent of the total survey — said they taught it as a “valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species”.

There are a lot of John Freshwater’s out there. And, intentionally or not, they are doing their best to undermine the nation’s science education.

I pity the kids who because of some fool teacher will grow up without an understanding of evolution. Not only will that close off some fields and opportunities for them, but how can anyone these days deeply understand human nature without understanding how human nature arose and evolved? Kids deprived of an adequate science education are kids who in the 21st Century will be left behind.

Main References and Further Reading:

Freshwater Considered for Contract Termination

Group Starts Preparations for Recalling Board Members

Independent Investigation of Complaint Regarding John Freshwater

Lawsuit Filed Against School, Teacher

Science Teacher Dissed Evolution

Students Back Defiant Teacher

Study: 16 Percent of US Science Teachers are Creationists

Special Blog References:

Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars provides sharp details of the investigation report here.

Scott Pilutik, at Reality Based Community, has a brilliant insight into Mr. Freshwater’s betrayal of Jesus here.

Richard B. Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb has an excellent post on the larger significance of these events here.

Rob McGehee over at Wise Adder reports from down in the trenches of public school science teaching here.

Ceryx at The Bronze Gate explains one of the factors that moves creationists to deny evolution here.

Ed Darrell over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub has put up an outstanding post that begins with a thorough discussion of the scientific instrument used to burn the students here.

About these ads

225 Comments

Filed under Anthropology, Biology, Children, Christianity, Evolution, Intellectual Honesty, John Freshwater, Liars Lies and Lying, People, Religion, Science, Teacher

225 responses to “The Firing of John Freshwater

  1. kudos to an excellent post. from what i read thus far, some folks were trying to spin the story as one about “a Bible on a desk.”

  2. evangelistbro

    Since the phrase “separation of church and state” (not in the Constitution) was in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut assuring them of no governmental influence in the church’s affairs (not the other way around) there is no “separation” to undermine.

    It is inspiring and refreshing to see a man hold to his convictions, pray even “in violation of the district’s legal obligations for monitoring”, and dare to keep a Bible on his desk!

    A “fool teacher”, “kids deprived of an adequate science education?”

    Why is someone a fool? Seeing an enormous, intricately complex, ordered universe, and denying even the possibility of an intelligent designer? Is that intellectually honest?

    Reading assignment: Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Keppler

  3. It seems to me that teacher recruitment is in need of some overhaul, a science teacher should be teaching science. And while I support science teachers devoting some time, say one or two lessens to alternative theories, the vast majority of their teaching material should be composed of up-to-date accepted science.

    Perhaps there is a shortage of people qualified to teach science in the US, I don’t know, but I find it odd that there are so many so-called science teachers out there that are not teaching good science to the next generation. Something is clearly going awry with the selecting and hiring of teaching staff.

  4. Why hasn’t he been charged for assault and battery for burning a child’s arm?

  5. Don

    This post is typical atheist blather, and no facts. Nowhere is the consent of the child considered. Nowhere is the issue of whether this was a normal experiment that Mr. Freshwater used year after year. One year he draws a frog, the next year he draws a cross. As for teaching creationism, that is absolutely legal in a public school forum, because evolutionary theory is seriously flawed. Just consider the long list of prehistoric humanoid fakes that he been used to push Darwins theories for years.

  6. mary

    Don
    It is NOT legal if the school board has already told you No. They told him 2003 he was not allowed to teach it.
    A teacher in a classroom is the adult, consent does not matter. He should not have done it all the years he did.

  7. Separation of church and state: It’s in the Constitution. I don’t play a constitutional lawyer on television, I am one*, but it seems to me anyone can read the Constitution and see. Especially if one understands that the Constitution sets up a limited government, that is as Madison described, one that can do only what is delegated to it. The Constitution is a short document.

    First, in the Preamble, it is made clear that the document is a compact between citizens: “We the people . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution . . .” The usual role of God ordaining (in some western nations) is altered, intentionally. It is not God who establishes this government, but you and I, together. From teh first words of the Constitution, there is separation of church and state.

    Second, in Article 1, the legislative branch is given no role in religion; neither is any religion given any role in the legislature. In Article 2, the executive branch gets no role in religion, and religion gets no role in the executive branch. In Article 3, the judicial branch gets no role in religion, and religion gets no role in the judicial branch. In Article 4, the people get a guarantee of a republican form of government in the states, but the states get no role in religion, and religion gets no role in state government. This is, by design, a perfect separation of church and state.

    Third, in Article VI, the hard and fast rule that no religious test can be used for any office in government, federal, state or local, means that no official will have a formal, governmental role in religion, and no religion can insist on a role in any official’s duties.

    Fourth, Amendment 1 closes the door to weasling around it: Congress is prohibited from even considering any legislation that might grant a new bureaucracy or a new power to get around the other bans on state and church marriage, plus the peoples’ rights in religion are enumerated.

    Fifth: In 1801 the Baptists (!) in Danbury, Connecticut, grew concerned that Connecticut would act to infringe on their church services, or teachings, or right to exist. So they wrote to President Jefferson. Jefferson responded with an official declaration of government policy on what the First Amendment and Constitution mean in such cases. Jefferson carefully constructed the form of the device as well as the content with his Attorney General, Levi Lincoln, to be sure that it would state what the law was. This “letter” is the proclamation. It’s an official statement of the U.S. government, collected in the president’s official papers and not in his personal papers. Make no mistake: Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists was an official act, an official statement of the law of the United States. Jefferson intended it to assuage the Baptists in Danbury, to inform and warn the Connecticut legislatures, and to be a touchstone to which future Americans could turn for information. It was only fitting and proper for the Supreme Court to use the letter in this capacity as it has done several times.

    Sixth: The phrase, “separation of church and state” dates back another 100 years and more, to the founding of Rhode Island. It is the religion/state facet of the idea of government by consent of the governed without interference from religious entities, expressed so well in the Mayflower Compact, in the first paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, and carried through in the Constitution (see especially the Preamble, above).

    No, the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the Constitution. The principles are part of the warp and woof, and history, of the document, however. The law is clear, was clear, and denying the Constitution says what it says won’t change it or make it go away.

    Consequently, John Freshwater, an agent of the government, had no right, duty, privilege, instruction, nor any other legal foundation for his actions. Speaking as a Christian, I would say he has no Biblical foundation, either. Whether there is any other moral foundation, I doubt. (Paul’s the philosopher here; I’ll let him talk about other moral foundations.)

    It’s sad to see a teacher licensed to teach who doesn’t understand the legal duties of the job, who acts insubordinately to place his employer in legal jeopardy, and who shirks the duties he signed an oath to perform. It’s sad to see a teacher so completely unfamiliar with the content of what he is supposed to teach.

    Darwin saw the appearance of design in nature, too. He studied nature to see what causes that appearance of design, and discovered evolution. Evolution is one of the best documented, most thoroughly understood of the chief theories of science. Additionally, evolution is one of the outstanding ideas of western civilization, leading to scientific advances in medicine and agriculture that allow us to have a human population so large as this planet has now. Students need to understand the great ideas of western civilization, both scientifically and culturally.

    I cannot think of a good religious reason to teach garbage to children and shock them with a device that warns it should never be used in contact with humans. By most international law, that would be deemed torture.

    When I got my teaching license, torture was not one of the prescribed methods of teaching.

    Reading assignments: The Constitution of the United States of America (try Findlaw.com, NARA.gov, there are lots of sites); Darwin, On the Origin of Species and chapter 5 (development of morality) of Descent of Man (both available online at several sources); The Boy Scout Law (here’s a good source:
    http://www.scouting.org/Media/FactSheets/02-503a.aspx ); Ohio’s science standards (hope this fits):
    http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templates/Pages/ODE/ODEDetail.aspx?page=3&TopicRelationID=334&ContentID=834&Content=32645

    * I’m also a licensed, certified teacher — of history, government, and other social studies, if you’re curious.

  8. Just consider the long list of prehistoric humanoid fakes that he been used to push Darwins theories for years.

    Fakes? Piltdown Man frustrated Darwinian theorists for a while, until scientists determined it was fake. The Piltdown hoax, interestingly, seems to have been perpetrated in jest, with a Catholic priest as part of the hoax conspiracy. In any case, it promoted evolution in no fashion.

    There are no other fakes I can think of.

    In contrast, there are 20 species pretty well established between modern humans and our last, proto-ape common ancestor with chimps.

    No fakes vs. 20 solid examples.

    Don? What was your point?

  9. macsimcon

    Who does this man think he is to promote Christianity, let alone any religion, using taxpayer-funded facilities and time? If he wants to teach Sunday school, seek employment at a church, but his first amendment rights stop where his duty to teach a state-sanctioned curriculum begins.

    There are reams of evidence, experiments, and studies to support the theory of evolution. What evidence and experiments support Intelligent Design? A banana’s shape hardly proves the existence of a divine architect, especially since many bananas don’t even have that shape. ID is a story, a fanciful explanation, a desire to understand, but it is definitely NOT a theory which can be tested using the scientific method.

  10. Super post, Paul! That was very interesting indeed… Americans find newer controversies all the time, but the moral premises remain old!

  11. @ A. McEwen: Welcome to the blog! :) And thank you for your kind words!

    @ Evangelistbro: Welcome to the blog!

    If you will find his comment to this post, I think Ed Darrell has done a thorough and superior job of addressing your concern about the separation of church and state in the Constitution. So, I won’t myself attempt to do it.

    As for why I believe Mr. Freshwater is being foolish, Evangelistbro, I think he is foolish to assume he can teach both creationism/intelligent design to his students and at the same time encourage them to develop the virtues of intellectual honesty and personal integrity.

    Thank you for some interesting comments!

    @ Ceryx: Welcome to the blog! :)

    I completely agree with you that much needs to be done about the quality of science education in this country. In addition to what you’ve mentioned, I would add that future science teachers need to be more thoroughly educated in science. For instance: It might astound you to know that a science teacher in the US is not required to take even a single course in evolutionary biology.

    @ GoesDownBitter: RE: “Why hasn’t Mr. Freshwater been charged for burning his students?” That seems to me a very good question. It might be too early to tell whether he is going to be charged or not.

    By the way, GDB, that’s a very interesting post you’ve made on your blog about war with Iran.

    @ Don: Your comments puzzle me because there is not one thing you have chosen to say that is both true and relevant. Am I mistaken to conclude you are a mere troll?

    @ Mary: Welcome to the blog! :)

    I agree with you that we simply cannot morally accept a child’s agreement to being burnt as valid legal consent.

    @ Ed: Welcome to the blog! :)

    First, thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderfully factual and informative essay on the separation of church and state in the Constitution! It is very much appreciated by me.

    Second, I’m not much of an authority on morality, Ed, and I’m genuinely stumped to recall any moral reasoning I’ve ever come across which could be applied favorably to Mr. Freshwater’s behavior — with the possible exception of one notion: The notion (his) lies are justified when they are for the greater good. But applying that principle in this case seems very problematic to me.

    @ Macsimcon: Welcome to the blog! :) And well-said!

    @ Doc: Thanks, Doc! Your observation strikes me as very true.

  12. Stacy S.

    Great post! This is the first time I’ve seen a picture of the jerk – and I’ve been following this story for a while.

  13. Great post, thanks. I was linked here via Pharyngula.

    Hope someone files those assault charges on this one.

  14. Don: A middle school aged child cannot consent to bodily harm. If a parent had done that to their child they would be up on child abuse charges.

    While all the religious preaching and lack of science teaching is bad enough (and I think plenty of grounds for firing him). That branding incident alone is enough for termination and loss of teaching credentials and hopefully criminal charges. There is no possible justification for doing such a thing to your students, it’s an abuse of authority and assault.

  15. Ed Darrell –
    One thing that I’m not sure I understand. Perhaps I have it wrong?

    I’ve been told that the Government isn’t necessarily required to stay away from religion, but to stay neutral in regards to religion.

    In other words – under the right circumstances teaching the bible is okay, as long as equal time is given to other religions (and to no religion too).

    Speaking as an Atheist, I’d have no problem with the teacher posting the 10 commandments on the classroom wall – as long as the teacher also post the basic principles of every other religion on the walls too – including the manifesto of Secular Humanism.

    This would seem an agreeable solution – except that the sheer number of religions in the world would result in a classroom completely papered with religious wallpaper.

    So, I guess my understanding is that the reason why government stays away from religion is because it is impossible to accommodate everyone equally.

    And as for evangelistbro – you list Newton as a study reference. Do you think we should also teach Newton’s alchemy and his search for the Philosopher’s Stone as science too?

    Being really smart doesn’t mean you’re always right. That’s what’s so great about the scientific method – it (eventually) weeds out the junk from the truth.

  16. @Paul: Thanks for posting this report. It’s interesting how far some people are willing to go to try to deny the things science shows us to be true. Evolution was fact first, Darwin sought a way to explain it. Preaching a literal interpretation of Genesis as a counter to evolution is wrong and, in the long run, evil.

    @evangelistbro: You suggest reading the following authors: Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Keppler

    Perhaps you should read about their history, too. They all contravened conventional teachings of the church at the time and despite a deep belief in their God, Copernicus and Galileo were persecuted by the church:

    Regarding Copernicus:
    “The Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) never liked the Earth-based view of the universe, yet he never publicly announced his views until he was old. This was due to the Church — anyone who opposed Church doctrine was branded a heretic, and that would destroy your reputation, put you in prison, or even sentence you to death.” (http://burro.astr.cwru.edu/stu/pre20th_europe_church.html)

    Galileo was brought to trial for his heliocentric theory and was forced to recant that theory or be punished – even thoug he recanted, he spent the remainder of his life essentially under house arrest, by order of the Church. It turns out the Church was wrong about the heliocentric model.

    Newton spent a large part of his life in vain pursuits. Some of which the church would have frowned upon had it known (ever hear of Alchemy?)

    Keppler’s problems with the Church weren’t related to his science so I left him out.

    @Don: How is this post typical of atheistic blather? I bet there are a great many Christians , true Christians, that will side with Paul. Also, a minor may not legally give consent.

    @Ed Darrell: Wow – and thanks. I didn’t know that particular letter by Jefferson was considered part of legal precident – that’s interesting and helpful information.

    John B. Sandlin

  17. sailor

    “This post is typical atheist blather, and no facts. Nowhere is the consent of the child considered. Nowhere is the issue of whether this was a normal experiment that Mr. Freshwater used year after year. One year he draws a frog, the next year he draws a cross.”

    Don it may no have occured to you, but even if a teacher got a kid to agree to burn a cross on his arm, it would be illegal. I just do not undertand why this man isnot in jail.

  18. schmidtty

    As a teacher and a Christian, I take issue with Freshwater’s (and his friends’) bellicose posture against all things secular. He does a disservice to his students and his faith community by framing this disagreements as a war between God-lovers and God-haters.

    Christians who doubt the scientific validity of evolution by natural selection must stop seeing this as a fight between good and evil. It is a scientific debate, not a religious one–and there are Christians on both sides. There is no demonic conspiracy to brainwash our kids with Darwinism, and as long as we insist that there is one, we isolate ourselves (and our kids) from all important scientific discussions. Freshwater needs to start acting like a Christian and a scientist. Right now he’s acting like a hack.

    But his most annoying and destructive attitude is his belligerent insistence that HIS rights are being violated. If he is unwilling to teach what he was hired to teach–if he is unwilling to fulfill his contract–if he is not doing his job–then he deserves to be fired. That’s not persecution; it’s justice, and it should be expected.

    This guy is no martyr. His bosses have actually shown quite a lot of (Christian?) patience and forebearance by letting him keep his job after years of complaints about his performance. His insubordination is indefensible, and he should stop justifying it by calling it Christian.

  19. bobhope2112

    Kepler’s intersection of religion and astronomy did not cause him to collide with papal authority, but it makes for an interesting study. He was convinced that the solar system was a sort of model of the Holy Trinity rendered in perfect geometric forms. It’s clear to see that his astronomy improved as he dispensed with scripture in favor of direct observation. That’s a lesson “scientific” creationists could stand to learn.

  20. Ed

    Great article but I noticed the consistent misspelling of the name “Daubenmire” http://www.ptsalt.com/about
    I listened to his most recent two podcasts and they are very scary.
    http://www.ptsalt.com/radio
    He is an ignorant hate filled blowhard control freak who hates true education.

  21. I’ve been told that the Government isn’t necessarily required to stay away from religion, but to stay neutral in regards to religion.

    The government can’t advocate religion over non-religion. The government is not required to be hostile to religion, but non-hostility to religion can’t be hostile to disbelief or other beliefs.

    Short version: In schools, we can teach about religion and its influences on history, we can teach about religion, especially in a comparative religion course. We can’t teach that kids must or should choose one religion, or just a religion.

    In other words – under the right circumstances teaching the bible is okay, as long as equal time is given to other religions (and to no religion too).

    There is a course that has the approval of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and several religions, which studies the Bible in true academic fashion. That’s fine — you don’t have to give equal time to other faiths.

    It’s not okay to say “you ought to be Christian” if you give “equal time” to Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, Atheists, Ba’Hais, and so on. That’s still a violation of the child’s right to choose her own faith.

    Most good English teachers include sections of the Bible as literature. Some of the stories are rather foundational to our culture — the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, etc. Frequently fundamentalists complain — they don’t want their children to read the story and understand it, they want their kids to be indoctrinated that the story is true, regardless what it says.

    That would be illegal. Do you see the distinction?

    Speaking as an Atheist, I’d have no problem with the teacher posting the 10 commandments on the classroom wall – as long as the teacher also post the basic principles of every other religion on the walls too – including the manifesto of Secular Humanism.

    I talk about codes of laws including the various versions of the Ten Commandments and the Jewish laws in my business law courses in college — a few students are always shocked to learn that there are differing versions of the Ten Commandments, and there is always at least one who insists that the Code of Hammurabi cannot possibly be older than the Ten Commandments. But that’s college.

    Outside of a business law course that surveys the history of legal codes, I have not found any valid reason to post the Ten Commandments. It’ s not a foundational document to our nation, nor to any others, for U.S. or world history (and most states’ standards recognize that). As a pragmatic matter, the decisions on posting the decalogue generally involve county or state governments. The Supreme Court has ruled that a posting of the Ten Commandments in a larger display of codes, such as the “Foundations of Freedom” found in airports, county government buildings and a few schools, is okay. It’s out of place there, but it’s not the focus of the display — and most kids are smart enough to figure it doesn’t belong. Frankly, I don’t have room for that stuff in my classroom — many of the documents will be in handouts, and in the readings, and posted at different times.

    In history we talk about the Dark Ages, Crusades, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment, all of which necessarily involve some discussion of the roles religions played. Mention of God is not forbidden. Preaching that one way of following God is correct, is what is prohibited.

    This would seem an agreeable solution – except that the sheer number of religions in the world would result in a classroom completely papered with religious wallpaper.

    So, I guess my understanding is that the reason why government stays away from religion is because it is impossible to accommodate everyone equally.

    No. The only prohibitions are on violations of the establishment clause — actions that appear to endorse one path of faith over any other — or actions that violate the free exercise clause, such as a teacher telling a student that she may not read the Bible on her own time.

    Teachers are agents of the government. Teachers may not lead students in prayer, but at the same time, a teacher may not stop a student’s praying so long as it is not otherwise disruptive (and then the disruption is the issue, not the prayer).

  22. Atheist

    Excuse me, you’re all nuts.

    The report said the Tesla coil experiment was done frequently and volutarily. That was alos back in december but nobody said anything until now.

    I’m an atheist but I’m pissed off at all the people who will lie about this guy to get him fired.

    The school board should just negotiate with him limitations to the religiosity and tell him to stop the Tesla coil experiments out of caution.

    Every science student I know has tried touching a Tesla coil so it’s not branding or anything of the sort, but should be stopped out of caution.

    If this ends up in court, it will be because everyone (on both sides) are behaving like a-holes.

  23. Howdy. I found your blog via Little Green Footballs, on which there is a link to yourblog regarding Mr. Freshwater. You’ll be pleased to note that the majority of us on LGF oppose Mr. Freshwater’s actions.

    Thank you for posting about this issue.

  24. sailor

    Atheist, if you are that, you are nuts. Touching a coil is one thing, burning a sodding great cross with it is quite another (go look at the picture). It hurt him enough he could not sleep. This is assault, plain and simple. It does not matter even if the student begged him to do it. The teacher is supposed to be in charge.

  25. freelunch

    Great roundup, Paul, thanks. I understand why PZ linked to you.

    Don, your ignorance and dishonesty aren’t even worth bothering with. You condemn yourself.

    Atheist, I don’t believe a word you say, starting with your name.

    eclectic infidel, when LGF is opposed to something that someone who is nominally conservative does, then it is clear that he has behaved far beyond the bounds of human decency. Thanks for the unexpected report.

  26. An X, not a T. The guy can’t only teach science he can’t teach English either.

  27. fromheretoeternity

    Don…5 words for ya:

    Seperation of Church and State

  28. @evangelistbro:

    “Why is someone a fool? Seeing an enormous, intricately complex, ordered universe, and denying even the possibility of an intelligent designer? Is that intellectually honest?”

    Seeing a beautiful, sparkly, multi-colored rainbow, and denying even the possibility of a mischievous Leprechaun at the end? Is that intellectually honest? We must introduce Leprechaun science into the schools!

    Here’s the clue you missed, my friend. It’s fine to ask “Is there a God”, “Is there an Intelligent Designer”, “Is there a Zeus”, “Are there Leprechauns”, etc. But teach those “possibilities” in school? No, and for a simple reason: there is ZERO EVIDENCE for all of those “possibilities”.

    If we had schools teaching every belief for which there is ZERO EVIDENCE, the length of required school curricula topics would be infinite. Kind of hard to go through infinite topics in a school year, don’t you think?

  29. iceman

    This reminds me of the hate crime investigation at my high school when one student called another an unkind word for a Jew. The parents of the half jewish kid were asked by the investigator who asked if they had any indication of trouble before this as the two kids were friends. The parents said, “Yes, that student did burn a cross on our lawn a few months ago but it was a small cross so we did not call the police but we do have the cross in our garage.”

  30. richCares

    evolution has lead to amazing cures, one example is the use of pig heart valves being used to save lifes of those with failed heart valves (I am one of them). these idiots are totally unaware of the medical advances made through evolutionary biology. if we ignored evolutionary biology then there would be a lot more dead people. these “I don’t believe in evolution” nuts are dangerous and they condemn their children to ignorance. so don’t say “full of vitrol at times as both sides are”, Anyone remember what an iron lung was, there was one on every block when I was a kid. these iron lungs would still be with us if the “I don’t believe in evolution” nuts had their way. But hey, they can pray for cures (and die) can’t they!

    iron lung = severe polio for those not aware

  31. Austin

    For the benefit of any dolts who think it is legal to teach creationism in public school science classes, you might want to read the results of Kitzmiller vs the Dover Area School District. This case cost Dover Pennsylvania millions. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover_decision.html

  32. Bryan Weddell

    Although I dislike bible-thumpers on principle, the “burning a cross” reports seem a little bit exaggerated. They make one think of Dolores Umbridge, when it appears to be a “who wants to feel the Tesla coil” thing producing a temporary reddening.

    People have been known to do that for fun; look up “violet wand”.

    The choice of symbol is decidedly creepy, though; I usually associate that sort of thing with bad horror films.

  33. waldo

    God shmod…these clowns don’t care about spiritualism or honesty. Their use of religion is political manoeuvering and manipulation. Bush uses God to justify war and torure in exactly the same way Churches have done for centuries. He personifies the hypocrisy of the religious right in America.
    Freshwater wouldn’t know God if She bit him on the ass.

  34. earthlingblues

    Great post, Paul. I’m glad it looks like this guy is getting fired. I followed the links to check out Dave Daubenmire and his Minutemen United; that’s disturbing group.

  35. whiskytangofoxtrot

    As a school teacher myself, active in my local teachers’ union, I just want to throw in my two cents’ worth on Mr. Freshwater’s flawed concept of a “right” to keep a Bible on his desk. First of all, NO PART OF A CLASSROOM is the property of a teacher. A teacher may have personal property in the classroom, and most do. As a Kindergarten teacher, I have many books, science materials, math manipulatives, etc., bought and paid-for with my own money and which will move with me at such time as I may be reassigned. However, any such personal property is there at the pleasure of the local administration and/or governing board, and must be removed upon request. Failure to do so is insubordination, which is grounds for setting in motion the wheels of due process by which a teacher, even one who is tenured, may be removed. So much for that argument. Proof of this is supported in the many examples of teachers nailed for keeping flasks of liquor in their desks, kiddie porn on personal laptops brought into the classroom, and even poorly-considered e-mails sent via a classroom computer over the district network.
    Failure to see “the writing on the wall (Book of Daniel, qv.):” at no point in any of this coverage did I see mention of his filing of a grievance against his principal or the school board, which would be his right under due process. The grievance process is handled through the union locally, not by engaging the services of typically-fickle local nutjobs with an axe to grind. Maybe he’s been made aware that his grievance could never get past the first stage, and (very likely) he’s the kind of weenie that doesn’t have anything nice to say about his union until he’s in trouble, and then wonders why they roll their eyes when they see him coming. Next week I’ll be in DC for the NEA annual meeting, and I’ll try to find out more from people in the delegation from Ohio.

  36. Atheist

    Sailor – b.s.!

    Bryan Weddell is absolutely correct – this was no branding. Go look at the outside firm’s report – the teacher marked himself, and kids volunteeered to do something cool.

    All this is about is exaggerated, intolerant hatred for believers.

    I have no religious belief myself, but trumping-up false assault charges against believers won’t make the world any better.

    His religious belief in the classroom? BFD. Dock him some pay. Don’t crucify him.

  37. Atheist

    Ed Darrell, you’re being dis-honest. The issue is religion in the schools, and you know quite well that is NOT in the Constitution.

    It was put there circa 1962 by a Supreme Court given to expansive interpretation of the Constitution.

    I’m not dis-satsified to see religion out of the schools, but I disagree with the idea that this Freshwater is some sort of monster. He’s not.

    Excuse me, but there are millions of religious in the USA. Secualrists who won’t compromise are setting up as much civil strife as religious who won’t compromise.

    Finally, you know as well as I do it’s pretty ambiguous whether or not he can have a Bible.

    Come on now. This guy is being hounded because many people hate religion. That’s plain wrong and bigoted.

    I reject religion but don’t hate it. Tolerate the religious. Compromise with them – especially in a matter like this which is so much easier to finesse than, say, abortion.

  38. Autonomous

    Atheist (I don’t believe that either)-you can read the full pdf of the investigation here:
    http://www.dispatch.com/wwwexportcontent/sites/dispatch/local_news/stories/2008/06/19/Freshwater.pdf

    The branding is only part of it. He is obviously not doing his job, and it is obvious that the school has been protecting him for years.

  39. Atheist

    Autonomous, I read that report awhile ago.

    You seem to have read it very selectively. The report said the students liked him and he knew his material: “Several students described him as a “great guy” and their “favorite teacher.” Fellow teachers and administrators also spoke positively regarding Mr. Freshwater as a person.” “Another teacher whose duties included being in Mr. Freshwaters’ classroom during the 2006 –
    2007 school year for several days found him to be a dynamic teacher who engaged the students,”

    “He said that he uses the device about twice a year and has done so for 21 years. At the end of the
    experiment the kids are excited and ask if they can touch it. He said that he demonstrates it on his
    own arm by making an “X” and then lets them touch it voluntarily. He said that the incident in
    question occurred in December 2007. He remembers getting from 3 to 8 volunteers,”

    “Mr. Maley said that there were no formal complaints against Mr. Freshwater because parents did
    not want him fired, so there is nothing in writing in his file.”

    I’m sorry, the guy should be disciplined but not fired. He’s getting screwed by bigotry.

  40. Austin

    Apparently “Atheist” finds the Establishment Clause an inconsequential triviality, much like Bush considers the 4th Amendment and habeas corpus.

  41. Autonomous

    Speaking of reading selectively…

    (keep in mind this guy’s supposed to be teaching science)

    From page 4:
    Parents and former students of Mr. Freshwater presented the following copies of materials that
    Mr. Freshwater had handed out in class to them. They said his normal practice was to collect the
    handouts at the end of class, but in these cases they had not turned them back in. These
    documents were reviewed with Dr. Weston and the two representatives of the science department
    who stated that none of these documents should have been used as part of the curriculum for an
    eighth grade science class:
    · Two worksheets that a parent of a former student said were handed out by Mr. Freshwater in
    his 2002 science class titled, “The Giraffe” and “The Woodpecker.” Both end with the
    statement, “Is there an I.D. involved?” (Copies as Attachment 8)
    · Documents that a parent of a former student said were handed out by Mr. Freshwater in his
    2003 science class titled, “Dragon History,” “Dinosaur Fossils – Age Old Debate” and
    “Dinosaur Extinction.” Note that the copy of “Dragon History” and the copy of “Dinosaur
    Extinction” that were available for review in the meeting with Dr. Weston and the two
    representatives of the science department had portions of each document deleted. A former
    student had a copy of the “Dinosaur Extinction” handout she received from Mr. Freshwater
    that included the full document with references to God and the Bible in the parts that had
    been deleted. (Copy as Attachment 9)
    · A copy of a complaint filed on April 4, 2006 against Mr. Freshwater regarding a handout
    titled, “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – The Premise and Problem.” The complaint chargedMr. Freshwater with passing out a paper from “All About God Ministries” entitled “Darwin’s
    Theory of Evolution – The Premise and the Problem” which the parent believed to be
    improper. As a result of this complaint Mr. Freshwater received a letter dated June 8, 2006
    from Superintendent Jeff Maley stating in part, “The material has not passed the test of
    scientific review and acceptance of the established scientific community. I am directing you
    to delete the material from your supplemental resources. Also, in the future please refrain
    from using materials that the source or author cannot be readily identified.” (Copy as
    Attachment 10)
    Dr. Weston stated that she has had to deal with internal and external complaints about his failure
    to follow the curriculum for much of her 11 years at Mount Vernon. It has come to her attention
    many times. She has reported these events to administrators and there have been some attempts
    to make changes and other instances where they seem to have been disregarded, particularly by
    one former assistant principal. She said that Mr. Freshwater cannot separate creationism/
    intelligent design from teaching to the science standards. She stated Mr. Freshwater has a lot of
    influence with his students that causes her concern.
    Former Superintendent Jeff Maley said he had received informal complaints regarding Mr.
    Freshwaters’ teaching creationism/intelligent design rather than evolution. When he had such
    circumstances with Mr. Freshwater he would tell him not to teach creationism or intelligent
    design. He stated he never had complaints concerning any other teacher like the ones concerning
    Mr. Freshwater. He tried to find another position for Mr. Freshwater, but could not do so because
    he was only certified in science.
    In a January 21, 2003 evaluation by Principal Jeff Kuntz, Mr. Freshwater was directed to
    “Continue to adhere to board policy and guidelines 2270 with respect to Religion In The
    Curriculum.” As part of the evaluation, he was given copies of the policy and guidelines.
    The High School Principal said that Mr. Freshwater has caused issues for her high school teachers
    in having to reeducate students from his teachings. The specific issues include a number of areas
    – his failure to follow the curriculum regarding teaching creationism/intelligent design rather
    than evolution and his teaching of the Periodic Table, as examples. The High School Principal
    specifically asked that her daughter not be assigned to Mr. Freshwater for her 8th grade science
    due to her concern about his teaching not being consistent with the curriculum.
    A ninth grade science teacher provided copies of questionnaires that incoming students complete on the first or second day of school in the fall. The teacher provided copies for the following
    school years (Copies attached as Attachments 11, 12 and 13 respectively):
    · 2005 – 2006 (Incoming students from Mr. Freshwaters’ 2004 – 2005 class)
    · 2006 – 2007 (Incoming students from Mr. Freshwaters’ 2005 – 2006 class)
    · 2007 – 2008 (Incoming students from Mr. Freshwaters’ 2006 – 2007 class)
    These questionnaires have a consistent pattern of comments from year to year such as:
    · In response to question 2: What are some things you disliked or found difficult in your past
    science classes?
    o “I disliked how much time we spent studying evolution, although I found it
    interesting, I wanted to move on.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “Studying evolution out of the book because it is all opinion. Not proven facts.”
    (2005 – 2006)
    o “Evolutions theory before eighth grade because teachers always say look in your
    book when the book can’t give you solid evidence.” (2006 – 2007)
    · In response to question 3: What is the most important concept you learned in science last
    year?
    o “The difference between theories and proven laws. Obvious, but I suppose very
    important.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “Evolution, and why that isn’t probable and how it is.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “The dates scientists put on things are not always accurate.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “The most important concept was the evolution theories.” (2006 – 2007)
    o “Evolution.” (2006 – 2007)
    o “Big Bang Theory” (2007 – 2008)
    o “The Big bang theory was the most important concept I learned in science.”
    (2007 – 2008)
    · In response to question 4: What are some topics that you enjoyed studying last year (and
    why)?
    o “Evolution, because we learned about it and how it can or can’t be true and got
    both sides of the story.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “Evolution because, despite the fact that I don’t believe it, I find some of the
    techniques they use to come to their results interesting.” (2005 – 2006)
    o “Evolution because Mr. Freshwater showed us both sides of the issue.” (2006 –
    2007)
    o “Evolution because we always had debates about it.” (2006 – 2007)
    o “I liked debating about creation and evolution, because it’s always fun to
    debate!” (2007 – 2008)
    During interviews high school science teachers expressed frustration and concern regarding
    having to “re-teach” concepts that in their opinion had been improperly taught by Mr. Freshwater
    at the eighth grade level. Comments included:
    · At the high school level evolution is the underlying principle of all biology. At the ninth
    grade level when we bring up evolution there is challenge and argumentation from students
    who have had Mr. Freshwater, bordering on hostility.
    · “Here” from John Freshwaters’ students means that anytime he was telling them something
    out of the textbook that was wrong from his perspective they were to say, “Here.” For
    example, Mr. Freshwater taught there are reasons why carbon dating may not be accurate and
    so students were to say, “Here.” The high school science teachers pointed out the scientific
    data supports carbon dating as being accurate. Mr. Freshwater’s emphasis to the students is,
    “If carbon dating is wrong then evolution is wrong.” This becomes a detriment to the
    students getting a proper science education and requires the high school teachers to re-teach
    the basic science curriculum.
    A ninth grade science teacher shared an e-mail she had sent in August 2007 to the high school
    principal stating, “The sections of the OGT that our students have the most difficulty with
    concern “science as process”… by mis-teaching science (i.e. that there’s some sort of “difference
    between facts and hypotheses”) this sets us up to miss this portion of the OGT, thus losing out on
    our AYP. I find it extremely unfair to have to start EACH SCHOOL YEAR reteaching students
    how science ACTUALLY works.” (Copy as Attachment 14)

  42. Autonomous

    To Atheist:
    I think my last comment was too long-sorry. Read pages 4-5 of the report and then tell me that he’s doing his job as a science teacher. The whole burning thing is incidental, and so is whether or not people like him. When teachers in the 9th grade have to re-teach basic concepts because of him, he’s harming his students by teaching them outright falsehoods. It looks like I’m not the one reading selectively.

  43. Anon

    Well, if Mr. Freshwater does indeed get fired, he can always seek a job in a nice Waziristan Madrasa. I gather those folks are all too happy to hire nutjobs who yammer about god all day. (He may have to learn to burn some new shapes into arms, but I’m sure they have stencils.)

  44. Austin

    “Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine our civil rights”

    Thomas Jefferson

  45. Atheist

    Austin, have you no better argument than to put words in another’s mouth?

    I said nothing about abandoning the est clause. I pointed out that the establishment clause wasn’t interpreted to put religion out of the schools, until long after the Constitution’s adoption in 1791. In fact, from 1791 to 1962, religion in schools was mostly accepted.

    That doesn’t mean it should be accepted now but it does mean it’s a bit extreme to crucify the teacher.

    Autonomous, you didn’t read the report carefully. The teacher taught creationism, but it’s not at all clear whether he did so after being instructed not to, or only before. His only clear offences after being told no, were leaving up one creationist poster and one Bible on his desk. Apparently he did remove several other Bibles and posters.

    Excuse me, I still think you’re all nuts. There are millions of religious in the USA. COMPROMISE WITH THEM. In this case, that may mean disciplining the teacher or docking his pay, but not firing him. 21-year teachers shouldn’t be fired over this nonsense.

  46. Atheist

    By the way, I don’t think creationism should be handled in the classroom any differently from other controversies (abortion, gay rights, etc).

    Present to the kids the pros and cons of both sides and encourage them to argue it out and think for themselves.

    I happen to support evolution over creationism, but it’s no threat to me if kids in the classroom get to argue it out.

    I tend to the “liberal” view (pro-gay-rights, pro-abortion) and I have confidence that the kids will reach that conclusion too.

  47. Autonomous

    Did you read the pages suggested? He obviously knew what he was doing-note that he took the questionable materials back at the end of the class.

    Here’s the thing-there is no controversy. The arguments against evolution are purely religious in nature. Remember the Dover trial? The problem, as was stated in my post above, is that he is teaching them a warped view of what science is.

  48. Autonomous

    One last thing-compromise what? He wasn’t doing his job, he got fired. That’s it. Only the loudmouth whacko minority of Christians are supporting this guy. Why should we compromise? For decades the atheists of this country remained silent and the Religious Right took over the government. I won’t compromise what is true to pander to people who want to believe the world was made 6000 years ago.

  49. Ed Darrell, you’re being dis-honest. The issue is religion in the schools, and you know quite well that is NOT in the Constitution.

    See my previous post about what is in the Constitution — separation of church and state is woven throughout. Check my few references to Constitution to see that I’m right.

    Our Constitution is a set of delegated powers, and it established a government that is limited to only those powers the people delegate to it. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a delegation of religious authority in any fashion to any government.

    Incidentally, this view was so powerful that it was carried over to the state constitutions. Each state constitution creates exactly the same separation of church and state in each state. Madison, the Father of the Constitution, had spent a year in Virginia getting Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom passed into law, to enact the Virginia Bill of Rights section on freedom of religion. Madison knew the issue inside an out. If you’re curious about his views, see especially the Memorial and Remonstrance (try the Avalon collection at Yale’s website if you can’t find it anywhere else); and look at Madison’s comments in the Federalist Papers. Freshwater’s violation of the religious rights of the children has absolutely no foundation in law.

    Don’t take my word for it; go here and read the letter sent to the lawyers of every school district in America about the protection of religious rights in the schools:
    http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/08-1995/religion.html

    That letter was first sent out during the Clinton administration; the Bush folk have endorsed it. It’s very solid law.

    It was put there circa 1962 by a Supreme Court given to expansive interpretation of the Constitution.

    The 1962 rulings rely on precedents dating back to the Magna Carta at least. It is four square on all points as Madison, Jefferson, Washington and others intended them to be. And, you’ve dropped one of the dates most religion-down-the-throats-of-kids advocates use — the usual first reference to the Danbury Baptist proclamation was 1947, not 1962. You’re confusing the religion law cases.

    I’m not dis-satsified to see religion out of the schools, but I disagree with the idea that this Freshwater is some sort of monster. He’s not.

    You misunderstand the law. The law does not require that religion be left out. The law requires that state agents may not dictate religion to children. Here is my shorthand version, Darrell’s Corollary of the First Amendment: The state — which means administrators and teachers — cannot tell a kid whether to pray, when to pray, where to pray, how to pray, what to pray about, nor to what or to whom to pray.

    When Freshwater teaches religious dogma — which is what creationism has been determined to be (after creationists swore under oath that it is), that teacher violates several of those “cannots.”

    If you want to get religion out of the schools, tough luck. We in education are bound to protect the rights of children to hold beliefs and practice them. It’s in the Constitution. We cannot shirk that duty, as Freshwater did.

    The law does not ban religion in schools. Students’ expressions of religion are specifically and carefully protected. Mr. Freshwater showed no regard for his students’ religious rights under the law.

    As an atheist, you’re woefully under-informed and ill-informed about this topic. Check with the American Humanists, or the Unitarians, or the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or maybe better, the American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU defends the religious rights of all people — their defenses of the rights of Christians to preach on streetcorners and pass out tracts to families in houses is legendary. Or check the First Amendment Foundation, or any con law book.

    Excuse me, but there are millions of religious in the USA. Secularists who won’t compromise are setting up as much civil strife as religious who won’t compromise.

    No one has the right to impose religion on children in the public schools. No one. This is a protection for those of us who are religious much more than for non-religious. This Freshwater guy is teaching a form of religion that my Christian sect finds noxious. He’s not defending religion against irreligion — he’s trampling the rights of the children. He has no right to do that.

    Finally, you know as well as I do it’s pretty ambiguous whether or not he can have a Bible.

    This isn’t ambiguous at all. He has a right to carry a Bible with him to read on his own time. He has a duty to be certain that he does not impose his beliefs on students, either informally, or formally, such as through the material he teaches.

    His teachings do not measure up to Ohio standards on science. So they are suspect from the start in that regard. His teachings also violate Ohio law and federal law that protects the religious rights of the kids.

    This is a form of child abuse, even without the torture device.

    He has a right to carry a Bible. He has no right to preach from it. His using the Bible as a text would be protected if he had not been using his Bible to violate the rights of the children. He may not do that.

    Come on now. This guy is being hounded because many people hate religion. That’s plain wrong and bigoted.

    This man abused the religious rights of students that the law charged him with a duty to protect. That is one of the most egregious violations of duty possible. The hounds are on him because he’s a refugee from the law. The hounds are on him justly. As a Christian, I abhor his disregard for the Constitution, his disregard of his oath to the State of Ohio and its constitution, and his disregard for the teachings of Jesus to do well by children especially. What he has done is grievous sin, religiously. The state is not hounding him about that. He’ll have to explain it to a much higher court.

    But make no mistake about it, his disregard for the law is not a religious right.

    I reject religion but don’t hate it. Tolerate the religious. Compromise with them – especially in a matter like this which is so much easier to finesse than, say, abortion.

    Appeasement with evil is not justice. This is not a case for compromise. The man has abused children and the law for years, according to the record that I think will be difficult to contest.

    If I had found a teacher doing this to my children, I would have sued him personally. The courts of Texas would strip any immunity he might have as a government employee, and I’d personally go after his assets for the damage done. And I’d move fast, because if someone like me were in the county prosecutor’s office, he’d be facing criminal assault charges, too, for all those cases where the statute of limitations had not run.

    I’m a conservative, fair guy, and I bear the man no animus.

  50. Folks, I think there might be some mischief going on in the comments here on my Freshwater post. Late yesterday, a commentator showed up going by the name of “Atheist”. Yet, it turns out this guy smells of deception. He’s been spouting talking points that could come straight from the Discovery Institute. Stuff like, “let’s teach the controversy.” So, while he’s pretending to be an atheist and on “one side”, so to speak, he’s actually laying out the case for the “other side” — the Freshwater side — in this controversy.

    I bring all this up because I’m getting vibes from this “Atheist” guy that he’s much more than an amateur at this game. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid here, but I smell in this “Atheist” some kind of professional or near professional public relations person. Some kind of hired hand.

    So I’m wondering if that’s at all possible. Have any of you ever had cause to believe that, say, the Discovery Institute has pulled a trick like this before? I know for certain that this sort of dirty trick is routinely played in politics these days, but I am ignorant of whether or not it’s also being played in the creationism/evolution debate. Any ideas?

  51. peter

    “Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled””.
    I don’t know the US educational system, but is this not discriminating against those who don’t go to see this tendentious film?
    If those who do go get some advantage compared to those who don’t, that strikes me as a gross abuse of his position to promote a POV.
    Peter

  52. bobhope2112

    Was it the “pro-abortion” comment that tipped you off? With the possible exception of Sarah Silverman, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone that’s enthusiastic about abortions. There’s not reason to think that an atheist can’t be a twit, but something about “Atheist” does not wring true.

  53. bobhope2112

    Wow, I really pooched that last sentence. There’s no reason to think that an atheist can’t be a twit, but something about “Atheist” does not ring true.

  54. Devout Christian

    Present to the kids the pros and cons of both sides and encourage them to argue it out and think for themselves.

    This is precisely the sort of remark no “Atheist” would make.

  55. Thanks, Bob! I was wondering if I was the only one who suspected something here. I’d rather not say what has tipped me off because I don’t want this “Atheist” fellow to so easily learn how to improve his or her game, but let’s just say it’s more than one thing.

    I’ve seen this sort of crap in politics. I was wondering if it’s also not prevalent in the creationism/evolution debate?

  56. Thanks, Devout Christian! It’s good to get some “second opinions” here. I hope I’m not just being paranoid, but these games are being played in politics these days, and the thought occurs to me they might be being played here too.

  57. Ed Darrell – thanks for the info. It gives me much to consider. I appreciate that.

    (not really an) Atheist – I’d be willing to admit there is a Creation controversy if the Creationists could come up with a positive bit of evidence for creation. Without said evidence, it becomes glaringly evident that the “controversy” is manufactured and I think it reasonable to keep it out of the classroom.

    As for compromising with religion – I’m sure that Scientology would agree with you 100 percent – along with the thousands of other hurtful cults.

    I look at the Freshwater case as a type of “statutory rape”. It doesn’t matter that the kid thought it was cool and gave consent to be branded – legally the kid is not allowed to consent – the teacher took advantage of him.

    He should be tried, and if found guilty he should be fired, banned from teaching for life, and jailed.

  58. I look at the Freshwater case as a type of “statutory rape”. It doesn’t matter that the kid thought it was cool and gave consent to be branded – legally the kid is not allowed to consent – the teacher took advantage of him.

    I’m afraid I agree with you here, Calladus. The phrase “statutory rape” actually came to mind when I was researching the article. It fits in a rough way what Mr. Freshwater has been doing to his students. Not just the branding. But also the abuse of teaching them pseudo-science as fact.

  59. As a teacher and a Christian, I take issue with Freshwater’s (and his friends’ ) bellicose posture against all things secular. He does a disservice to his students and his faith community by framing this disagreements as a war between God-lovers and God-haters.

    Thank you for making such a trenchant point, Schmidtty! I hadn’t looked at it in that way, but I believe you are spot on.

  60. Howdy. I found your blog via Little Green Footballs, on which there is a link to yourblog regarding Mr. Freshwater. You’ll be pleased to note that the majority of us on LGF oppose Mr. Freshwater’s actions.

    Thank you for posting about this issue.

    Thank you, Eclectic Infidel! It is gratifying to see people from all over the spectrum opposed to Mr. Freshwater’s behavior. Some of us might have one reason to oppose him, while some of us might have another. But Mr. Freshwater has surely gone beyond the bounds in not one but several ways.

  61. Jeff

    Abortions for everyone. (booo..), Ok, Abortions for no one. (boo..). Abortions for some, little american flags for the rest. (Yeahhh!)
    – The Simpsons.

    The term Pro-abortion is a classic trickery of the Fundies, supposing you only get 2 choices. Pro-life is one position, the opposing view is “pro-choice”, not pro-death. Saying Pro-abortion just exagerates their claim.
    This “Athiest” is most certainly a mole.

    That being said… Let us still debate, but without the masks.

    Jeff

  62. complex field

    Athiests who will not compromise? This usage is a typical attempt to quiet “the other side”. “You need to compromise” = “shut up”

  63. I’ve written about the Minutemen for the Columbus Free Press and my own blog, Theoconia over the last four years. Due to other responsibilities I haven’t been able to cover the John Freshwater case, but I’ve been following it I’d bet the bank this will get real ugly. I don’t want to write up any specific conjecture here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if outside national organizations come in on this. Coshocton County, the headquarters of much MM activity is a hotbed of weirdness anyway. (I used to hang out there). Every summer Flip Benham from Operation Rescue/Save America comes up for a few days for a retreat. There is also a small KKK contingent, though I want to make clear that the MM have no connection to them as far as I know and it would greatly surprise me if they did.

    John Freshwater has been a regular at clinic protests for years in Columbus. The majority of those weekly protesters have been MM members. His wife is the director of the CPC in Mount Vernon. He is not just a passive teacher caught up in his own undoing.

    If anyone would like to read more about the Minutemen go to Theoconia at http://theoconia.blogspot.com Some of the pieces are pretty long.

    I think the Freshwater case is going to stick around for a long time and be a national story.

  64. Gavin

    Regarding the Michael Berkman Poll: 16% is about 1 in 6 while 1 in 8 is about 13%.

  65. Atheist

    Autonomous, I recommend you never own a business, because you’ll get sued left and right.

    The students liked Freshwater and said he knew his stuff scientifically, aside from his creationist quirks.

    You don’t fire long-term employees from a civil service position over quirks and not expect to get sued.

    He might even win in court. Ordinary firing procedure requires first trying to negotiate. If the report on his creationism teaching covers a period befre he was asked to stop, then that can’t be used against him.

    If his only offence now seems to be a Bible on the desk wen the board has told him to sometimes hide it, then that’s insufficient for firing with risking lawsuit.

    You, like Ed, have a problem: YOU HATE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE. You’re bigots. I’m atheist but don’t hate the religious.

    Ed, you ARE dis-honest, responding to simple points with disquisitions about irrelevant matters. That’s your way f trying to dominate and squash dissent.

    My points had nothing to do with grandiose “separation of church and state”. My point were simply and correctly:

    * The USA had prayer in the schools until circa 1962 without falling apart.

    * The ban from 1962 on was, of course, modern interpretation inferred from the Est Clause, NOT explicitly stated therein.

    * Given that relatively recent interpretation – with which I might well agree – it is tendentious to try to paint the teacher as a monster just because he mentions religion. Yes, it’s quirky, but so what?

    STOP HATING THE RELIGIOUS. THAT’S INTOLERANCE, AND SOME OF US ATHEISTS WILL HATE YOU FOR YOUR INTOLERANCE.

  66. tips

    Good morning, I am new to this site. I have just learned about this site. I am going to read on and it’s very interesting to know

  67. @ Gavin: Thanks for the correction! I had in mind the 12.5% figure but wrote “one in eight” when speaking of the 16% figure. Glad you caught that!

  68. Atheist

    Calladus, you haven’t read me carefully. I have not said one word supporting thre concept of creationism. I simply think on the scale of offensiveness, most of those Christians with a God compulsion are pretty innocuous. And there are enough of them, and have always been in almost every place and time for 2 millennia, that TOLERANCE is in order.

    Yeah, yeah, there have been clinic bombers. But Freshwater isn’t one of them.

    As for “statutory rape,” by such ridiculous comparisons you are disresepecting real rape victims. The “branding” nonsense is just a transparent excuse to get rid of a guy who’s a bit of a pain in the neck. I doubt it will hold up in court – and you can be sure he will sue the school board over firing, perhaps backed by a lot of religious money.

    It’s insane for those here, simply to saitsfy their intellectual egos, to want to put the schjool district in a situation in which it wastes a lot of money on legal battles. Compromise with the guy. Agree he can keep his Bible on his desk if he removes all other religious items, make him kee the creationis to out-of-class discussion groups, and so on.

    But trumping up false assault and rape accusations is both foolish and defamatory. I infer that’s why the DA hasn’t done either. He’s out to win his cases, not waste his time. Even the kid’s parents did not file any kind of police complaint.

    When did secular humanism become as intolerant a sword as religion used to be?

  69. Autonomous

    I’m a bigot? You do realize that I said most religious people don’t agree with him, right? I do despise those who think that they should proselytize children, but most people do.

    You clearly haven’t read the pages I suggested that you read. How about the summary? How about explaining on what grounds you disagree with the investigations findings? I reserved judgement until I read the entire thing. You clearly did not.

  70. @ Marley: Thank you for the link to your information about the Minutemen and Mr. Freshwater’s ties to them! Quite interesting.

  71. Atheist

    Jeff,

    Stop trying to cover your weak argument by trying to put words in others’ mouths. I support abortion rights whether you want to call it pro-abortion or pro-choice.

    Those here who insist anyone disagreeing with them must be a fundie are admitting they’re losing the debate with me.

    Once again, my argument is hardly pro-religion. It is for TOLERANCE of limited religion.

    Creationism talk doesn’t scare me. Jihadis do. Stop wasting time with the creationists. Use common sense.

    My neighbour’s dog piddles on my lawn. I’m not about to make a court case over it – and neither should this school board.

  72. Autonomous

    So Atheist-what exactly do you disagree with in the investigation’s findings? If you can’t answer that, stating that you’re winning is ridiculous.

  73. Fox1

    Atheist, dude, I hope you never own a business, because, seriously, No One Is Buying What You’re Selling.

    Unless this is some kind of concern troll (Wikipedia) master class, then bravo, sir, bravo.

    Geez, people think we all hopped on this here series of tubes yesterday or something. It’s just insulting.

  74. Atheist

    Autonomous,

    The summary was just that – a partial re-capitulation of the detial. It added nothing to the detail, only re-capitulated it, just bulleted points for those who didn’t want to bother with the details.

    You also haven’t answered my points. On the two main charges against him: 1. the report is ambiguous about whether his creationist teaching was before or after he was told to stop. Until that’s clear, the school board would be foolish to invite a court case. 2. On the marking matter, it would be easy to show in court this is a game kids in science classes play frequently., and on the witness stand the kids would confirm they volunteered. Furthermore: 1. The school knew about it for years and had no criticism. 2. There’s no evidence of his doing it after being told to stop. All this makes any case against him weak.

    The school board is engaging in incompetent personnel management. If you want to fire someone, there are ways to go about it, including showing repeated insubordination, not just one poster not taken down. One administrator did complain he told Freshwater to stop the creationism, but the report also says they didn’t record that – no complaints in his file. If you want to fire an employee in sensitive cases liek relgion or race, having the records in the file is a must.

    Paul, you’re admitting the weakness of your argument by insisting you know others’ religious beliefs without having met them (mine). I have zero religious belief. I have never heard of the Discovery Institute until I heard of the Freshwater controversy a day ago. I assume it’s some creationist think-tank. Sorry, creationism per se doesn’t interest me. (Fairness does.)

    You all seem pretty intolerant. Youre going ape just because one person (me) has said maybe fighting forever with the religious isn’t the way to go. Look, the religious won’t go away, and atheists won’t go away. Fighting forever wastes society’s resources.

    I don’t know about you, but I have no compulsion to silence those who disagree with me about religion or music or abortion or sports teams or anything else.

    In the US Congress it’s called bi-partisanship. In limiting stubborn religionists, I call it compromise.

  75. Autonomous

    “He has passed out materials to students for the past
    several years challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He
    has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach creationism or intelligent design.”

    Also:

    “Mr. Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove all of the religious materials from his
    classroom as ordered by his superior, Principal White.”

    As well as:

    “Mr. Freshwater engaged in prayer during FCA meetings in violation of the District’s legal obligations for monitoring such organizations.”

    And:
    “Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.”

    Seriously-read the .pdf and then come back. You might want to apologize for calling us bigots as well.

  76. Atheist

    Autonomous,

    “So Atheist-what exactly do you disagree with in the investigation’s findings?”

    Who said I disagreed with it? The study, by the way, wasn’t exactly a finding so much as interviewing everybody. So there’s not much to disagree about, since I assume the HR firm accurately reported their interviews.

    The study reflects the ambiguity of the situation – for example, that he taught creationism, but that the parents objecting didn’t want him fired. The study states that.

    The study has only one flaw – neither it nor the school records contain clear, recorded, probative details of complaints of his teaching creationism AFTER being told to stop.

    To fire someone for insubordination, both private and public organisations are well-advised by both HR and legal to have explicit records – times, dates – of the insubordination.

    If they want to fire him, they need to document it properly – put out a clear formal letter to him, not just verbal, and not ambiguous – specifics about every detail of what he can and cannot do in the classroom. Then, if parents complain, RECORD IT (as the study admits the school didn’t). Have the parents write it down in detail and put it in his file. (The study says the school put nothing in his file.) Warn him each time in writing, and only after that fire him if enough warnings have occurred. Any HR person will tell you that’s how it has to be done to be bullet-proof against wrongful-dismissal lawsuits.

    By the way, false accusations of assault or statutory rape would only weaken the school’s case for dismissal, since other teachers have mentioned such experiments, and so could give Freshwater a plausible “disparate treatment” discrimination claim.

    So, were I the school’s admin or counsel, I’d drop the branding nonsense and concentrate on the real complaint – insubordination. If it’s fed up and wants to get rid of him, the school should stick to established personnel procedure: Instruct him explicitly in writing about the creationism business, then formally record every complaint in detail at the time of complaint. The study leaves ambiguous whther they have done that.

  77. Autonomous

    I haven’t said anything about the “branding” issue. The first quote that I included in my last post isn’t very ambiguous.

  78. Thanks for the link, Fox1. I’m learning more about trolls this morning than I ever thought there was to learn! :)

  79. Autonomous

    Something just jumped out at me-how would you know what the school records contain?

  80. Fox1

    Paul has not “admitted the weakness his argument” because you, he and this conversation do not exist in a vacuum, and even if you are truly what you claim, you are functionally equivalent to a concern troll.

    1. Your selection of pseudonym is a ham fisted labeling that more closely aligns with how the target audience’s opponents would view them, rather than actual self-image or inter-cultural signaling.

    2. You “Advocate ‘caution.’ Be ‘reasonable’ and urge your fellow-conferees to be ‘reasonable’ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on… Be worried about the propriety of any decision” (OSS Simple Sabotage Manual, 1944).

  81. Fox1

    No problem, Paul. Actually, I’m now encouraged to read your blog’s archives, because this must be some idyllic hideaway on the net for you remain so blissfully ignorant of the way of the troll :)

  82. Björn

    @Atheist: I’m a bit late, but nevertheless, here are my two cents…

    1. According to the report, Mr. Freshwater did indeed teach creati0nism *after* he had been told not to. See e. g. the first quote by Autonomous above.

    2. Even if he had *not* been told to stop teaching that explicitly – teaching creationism has been against the law for several decades now in the U.S. A school teacher should know that.

    3. He caused serious harm to one of his pupils (note the quote where it is said that the pupil couldn’t sleep!). Even if this was done with consent by the pupil, even if he does do this every year, even if you consider this to be a “childs game” – none of that excuses the fact that he *injured* a pupil *at will*. I don’t know enough about the school laws in the U.S. – but here in Germany that would be grounds enough to dismiss him!

    4. That lots or maybe all of his pupils liked him and his teaching does not change the fact that he simply taught them wrong things. Look at what some of the high school teachers said: they had to teach the whole stuff again in order to set them straight! That pupils like a teacher and his teaching does *not* imply that the teacher did nothing wrong!

    Last: I don’t understand how you come to the conclusion that the people here hate religion – simply because they insist that a teacher should not teach his own religious beliefs to a pupil…
    No one here said anywhere that religion *in general* is evil, should not be tolerated etc. The *only* issue is that the personal religious beliefs of a teacher should not influence what he teaches in science!

    Since you keep missing all these points, I can only conclude that you are either willfully obtuse or a troll.

  83. Atheist

    Anonymous

    “Mr. Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove all of the religious materials from his
    classroom as ordered by his superior, Principal White.”

    Failing to remove one poster is insufficient for dismissal. The idea of making a mountain out of a molehill – the idea of an employer using “pretextual” nits to support firing – was shot down long ago by the courts in discrimination and employment matters. A good lawyer for Freshwater will easily argue pretextual and that the real reason for firing was discrimination on the basis of religious belief.

    “Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.”

    Before or after being told no? If before, then it’s not clear insubordination. The school should accumulate clear, unambiguous, SUBSTANTIVE documentation of insubordination (not just one poster) if it wants to be able to defend against his inevitable suit.

    “Mr. Freshwater engaged in prayer during FCA meetings in violation of the District’s legal obligations for monitoring such organizations.”

    It’s a Christian student group. In similar siutations other school districts have not penalised teachers but instead tried to have the groups move to a church. If they treat him differently, they’ve given Freshwater grounds to sue.

    In other words, he’s vulnerable but all this stuff just isn’t yet sufficient and is in improper form. Long after-the-fact interviews/gossip doesn’t work. Dates? Times? Formal, written notice to him (not just verbal)? They have to have complaints in his file, and the study admitted thy have none. They have to record each transgression at the time it occurs, take documentation at the time it occurs, have parents’ complaints in writing, put it all in his file with deatils within days of occurrence, send him explicit warning letters, and so on. It’s standard HR procedure.

    It’s feasible – especially if he remains stubborn, as there are signs he would – but they’d have to start the file now. So, even if they want to fire him (and I stil think they should compromse), the school board should at least be smart about it and follow well-worn HR procedure. I’d be surprised if their counsel isn’t telling them that right now.

    In my experience with small-town government, the office-holders aren’t always so sharp about either administration or HR or the law. It shows in this case.

  84. Austin

    The simple fact is that ID/Creationism isn’t science, period. It has no business in a public school science class and the federal court has confirmed this.

    Any idiot can claim that one of science’s numerous theories is false and propose an alternative: e.g. our current understanding of gravity is incorrect, rather God pushes us down on Earth and prevents us from floating into space and dying. However, I think one would have a very difficult time supporting that claim with science.

    Likewise with ID/Creationists. They are very good at nit-picking, quote-mining, evidence-twisting and other such terms of dishonesty, to inject doubt in the minds of an uninformed general population. However, we have yet to see their “hypothesis” subjected to any sort of rigorous testing that would qualify as science. Thus, it is merely general, rather than scientific dissent and has no place in a science classroom. Else, teachers would be obliged to “teach the controversy” about GPUD (God Pushes Us Down) vs. Gravity along with ID/Creationism vs. Evolution. Both have just as much scientific credibility – zero.

  85. Paul, the Discovery Institute’s “fellows” are famous for showing up “anonymously” and fueling discussions. In the past they’ve reviewed their own books (favorably!) at Amazon.com, famously tried to hoodwink scientists into signing an oath to “skepticism” which they then presented to Texas officials as supporting intelligent design in school curricula, and in Ohio, they tried to convince the State Board of Education that federal law includes a provision specifically endorsing the teaching of intelligent design (it does not).

    If Atheist isn’t a sock puppet, s/he’s a refugee from somebody’s method acting school and deserves an Oscar covered in the sock of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

    Atheist said:

    You, like Ed, have a problem: YOU HATE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE. You’re bigots. I’m atheist but don’t hate the religious.

    Come spend a decade defending religious rights, come join our congregation on Sundays, come learn a bit about the Constitution, before going off half-cocked. Those who go off half-cocked are liable to return the same way, beware. You seem bent on exposing areas of vast ignorance we didn’t even suspect you have.

    My biases should be well known; but whatever my biases, they do not overcome the factual depictions I’ve given here. Notice in my last post I gave you the legal opinion of the attorneys general and secretaries of education for two different administrations of two different parties. Let me assure you, my influence is not so great I can lead both Clinton and Bush by the nose — if they were wise, they would allow me to do that, but they have not yet agreed.

    Ed, you ARE dis-honest, responding to simple points with disquisitions about irrelevant matters. That’s your way f trying to dominate and squash dissent.

    You made some erroneous statements about the state of the law. If you think I am in error in my statements of what the law is, by all means, offer some citations and rebut them. Raising your virtual voice and falsely impugning my motives make a poor case for your side, I think.

    My points had nothing to do with grandiose “separation of church and state”. My point were simply and correctly:

    * The USA had prayer in the schools until circa 1962 without falling apart.

    Well, were you familiar with those prayer cases, you’d know that the Supreme Court made inquiries into how long prayer in schools had been practiced. They discovered that, without exception, all laws endorsing prayers in schools were post-World War II. So it was a practice that, in law, was only about a decade old. We got along well for 170 years without laws forcing religion onto innocent school children, surviving the Civil War, helping win World War I, and defeating the forces of fascism in World War II, all without prayer in school.

    That was how the founders wanted it. Did you bother yourself to read the Memorial and Remonstrance? Madison noted that all such marriages of church and state had, in the 1,500 years prior to 1785, produced sloth and lethargy in the church and corruption in government. Madison was a wise student of history, someone Santayana would have liked to know. When Santayana says those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it, he is warning you specifically.

    * The ban from 1962 on was, of course, modern interpretation inferred from the Est Clause, NOT explicitly stated therein.

    In Notes on the State of Virginia, written during the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson proposed a system of public education that would get rid of use of the Bible. Jefferson warned that the Bible, used chiefly because it was a common book, makes a lousy book to learn reading from. He also noted that the Bible presents moral problems young school children are not ready to deal with, especially with regard to sex and larceny and death. Then he noted that, once the Bible was out of the schools, there would be a good opportunity to teach morality, instead.

    Now, some of us think Jefferson was smiling and winking when he wrote that, but it’s clear that his intent was to let people choose their own faith unencumbered by direction from state-sponsored schools. That is exactly what the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom states. That law is still on the books in Virginia, as it should be (see the last paragraph of the act); it was endorsed by George Washington, who also supported the Bill of Rights.

    You know, those guys worked for two decades to establish freedom. Were it true that they had intended to impose a theocracy of some sort, they must have been awfully forgetful to say the opposite in the Declaration of Independence, do nothing about it in the Articles of Confederation, state explicitly that they had different intentions in a half-dozen treaties from 1786 through 1818, write a Constitution that did the opposite in 1787, and then write the First Amendment into law — all the while failing to take any other action to impose religion.

    And of course, the key part you leave out includes the clear statement of Mr. Justice Jackson in the 1943 case of West Virginia vs. Barnette (319 U.S. 624):

    If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

    John Freshwater, whether high or petty, was a government official. His actions need to be conformed to the law of the land.

    Separation of church and state in the U.S. dates back at least to the Mayflower Compact, 1620, which established the principle of government by consent of the governed, specifically to get around the religious differences of the two different groups aboard the Mayflower. You should update your reference list.

    * Given that relatively recent interpretation – with which I might well agree – it is tendentious to try to paint the teacher as a monster just because he mentions religion. Yes, it’s quirky, but so what?

    STOP HATING THE RELIGIOUS. THAT’S INTOLERANCE, AND SOME OF US ATHEISTS WILL HATE YOU FOR YOUR INTOLERANCE.

    Not only do I believe your opinion of the law to be in error, as I have demonstrated carefully, at some lengthy, with specific references to what the law really is, I don’t believe you an atheist supporter of religious freedom, not for one femto-second.

  86. My neighbour’s dog piddles on my lawn. I’m not about to make a court case over it – and neither should this school board.

    Your neighbour is from England?

    In any case, despite the dog’s rudeness, it’s impressive that even the dog knows and respects the Constitution better than you.

  87. Jacques

    I love the photo of the christian lunatics there, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces, and their idiotic baseball caps with the symbol of their dead sun god. Apologies to WSB. This guy is a lunatic, he burned a farkin’ cross in this “child’s” arm for god’s sake. The problem of religion in science classes in the US will only get worse if the problem isn’t dealt with. Religion belongs in church, or religion class if we’re talking about schools. I would call it mythological history if it were up to me.

  88. Atheist

    Bjorn, to answer your points:

    1. “According to the report, Mr. Freshwater did indeed teach creati0nism *after* he had been told not to. See e. g. the first quote by Autonomous above.”

    The instructions were verbal, since the study says there were n complaints in the file. To support firing, they should be in writing. Again, standard HR procedure used commonly with recalcitrant employees.

    2. “2. Even if he had *not* been told to stop teaching that explicitly – teaching creationism has been against the law for several decades now in the U.S. A school teacher should know that.”

    Employers – especially public employers – still have to follow the warning procedure.

    3. “3. He caused serious harm to one of his pupils ”

    If Freshwater did it to himself, and the pupil and other pupils volunteered, then that’s debatable. Students scrape themselves in football yet schools don’t usually get sued. The fact of other volunteers, the fact of other teachers saying they’ve done similar experiments, the fact of many people recalling stuff like that from their own school days in long-ago less cautious times – al these point make me think I’d have an easy time getting the accusation stricken. The fact that the parents didn’t file a police complaint, and didn’t file their school complaint until 4 months later, all make a good argument that the harm was inconsequential. What was needed to fire him was a police complaint immediately, a doctor’s report imediately (if there were any), a written complaint to the school, and so on. Once again, nothing here was in proper form ordinarly used in firings.

    “4. That lots or maybe all of his pupils liked him and his teaching does not change the fact that he simply taught them wrong things. Look at what some of the high school teachers said: they had to teach the whole stuff again in order to set them straight! That pupils like a teacher and his teaching does *not* imply that the teacher did nothing wrong!”

    Good point but not the issue. The issue is not whether he did anything wrong but documentation of specific incidents at the time they occurred, written, with details, and formal warning letter. The school didn’t do that. They haven’t made a proper case. They had the material for it, but handled it badly. (That’s a matter of administrative/HR competence SEPARATE from my assertion that compromise is the best path to avoid costly litigation. In other words, if they want to fire and defend in litigation, they need to prepare it properly.)

    Let me be clear: I would advise the school district to compromise as an easier alternative to litigation. But if they are determined to fire and enter his inevitable litigation, then I’d advise them to prepare the case better, with written complaints, explicit dates, etc.

    Stop with the troll business. Such accusations just make it look as if those here cannot respond to my arguments.

    Paul, everything I have said has been polite and on-topic – and shows I know the study details well. The fact of your moderation is an admission of weakness of argument. Are you proud of that?

  89. Atheist

    Sorry for the typo. I meant, “The instructions were verbal, since the study says there were NO complaints in the file.”

  90. @ Atheist: My spam trap seems to be acting up. I’ve been trying to de-spam comments as fast as possible when the trap catches someone. There is no intentional moderation going on.

  91. Autonomous

    Atheist-you do realize that you called us bigots who hate religious people, right? That isn’t very polite.

    He continued to teach ID/creationism in spite of clear directives. That’s it. The fact that he tried to collect materials after class and instituted code words indicates that he knew that what he was doing was wrong. It isn’t like no other teacher has been fired for doing this-there is precedent.

  92. Fox1

    Atheist: “The issue is not whether he did anything wrong but documentation of specific incidents at the time they occurred, written, with details, and formal warning letter.

    Wait, what? When did that become the issue in this discussion? You seem to be the only one skewing the discussion toward HR minutiae and whether the firing was administratively correct, as opposed to just, appropriate or long overdue.

  93. Atheist

    Ed, to respond to your last post,

    Again, your disquisitiion on “separation of church and state” is addressing much broader issues (as no state religion) but has ambiguous and more recently-evolving application to religion in schools. I am correct that for many years the particular issue remained (rightly or wrongly) un-touched by the law.

    Everson (1947) did indeed tolerate some overlap.

    A decent three-prong test did not come until 1971. Yet even this concerned fundng, not the matter of curricula.

    In 2001 prayer was ALLOWED on school grounds in after-hours clubs. All Mount Vernon has to do is move the FCA meeting time after hours.

    In Newdow, the SC left the matter of “God” in the pledge in the classroom ambiguous.

    Even this material is not very relevant to the criteria for firing a teacher. So, the situation of Freshwater is far more ambiguous than you claim.

    Here’s a good summary, from the US Dept of Ed itself.
    http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html

    Note nothing on point for our situation, except perhaps “Moreover, not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech.”

    Of greater relevance is not the broad “separation of church and state” concept, but any specific writtten instructions from the school board, in writing. I think that’s missing. They should long ago have estalished an explicit written policy served by mail on all teachers. Did they?

  94. Atheist

    Fox1,

    No, I think there are two issues.

    One issue, the most discussed, is whteher he should be fired. I think firing an over-reaction both to the level of offence, and to common sense of avoiding unnecessary litigation.

    The second issue is the school board’s case for firing. They haven’t built the necessary documentation following standard HR procedures, and so their move to terminate is premature (and unwise). If they really want to fire, then they should go about it more methodically.

    In either case, I think both sides are behaving impulsively.

  95. Atheist

    Ed,

    “John Freshwater, whether high or petty, was a government official.”

    That’s the key to your mistake. Extension of the Est Clause/Wall of Sep to school situations didn’t come until much later than to government itself, thus making clear that teachers, whether considered government officials or employees of agents, are in a different class than, say, a governor.

    By the way, I believe some states did not formally disestablish until well into the 1800′s.

  96. If you’re going to claim I need to read some document, please be sure you’ve read it yourself, Atheist. The Department of Education site you point to does not contradict anything I’ve posted, and I invite you to look carefully at what it says, remembering that in all cases the teacher is a government agent, or “the government,” in these situations:

    The Supreme Court’s decisions over the past forty years set forth principles that distinguish impermissible governmental religious speech from the constitutionally protected private religious speech of students. For example, teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities. [ 4 ] Nor may school officials attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities. [ 5 ] Such conduct is “attributable to the State” and thus violates the Establishment Clause. [ 6 ]

    Similarly, public school officials may not themselves decide that prayer should be included in school-sponsored events. In Lee v. Weisman [ 7 ], for example, the Supreme Court held that public school officials violated the Constitution in inviting a member of the clergy to deliver a prayer at a graduation ceremony. Nor may school officials grant religious speakers preferential access to public audiences, or otherwise select public speakers on a basis that favors religious speech. In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe [ 8 ], for example, the Court invalidated a school’s football game speaker policy on the ground that it was designed by school officials to result in pregame prayer, thus favoring religious expression over secular expression.

    Although the Constitution forbids public school officials from directing or favoring prayer, students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” [ 9 ] and the Supreme Court has made clear that “private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression.” [ 10 ] Moreover, not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech. [ 11 ] For example, “nothing in the Constitution … prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day,” [ 12 ] and students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech. Likewise, local school authorities possess substantial discretion to impose rules of order and pedagogical restrictions on student activities, [ 13 ] but they may not structure or administer such rules to discriminate against student prayer or religious speech. For instance, where schools permit student expression on the basis of genuinely neutral criteria and students retain primary control over the content of their expression, the speech of students who choose to express themselves through religious means such as prayer is not attributable to the state and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious content. [ 14 ] Student remarks are not attributable to the state simply because they are delivered in a public setting or to a public audience. [ 15 ] As the Supreme Court has explained: “The proposition that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor is not complicated,” [ 16 ] and the Constitution mandates neutrality rather than hostility toward privately initiated religious expression. [ 17 ]

    None of that overcomes these points:

    1. A teacher may not advocate religion.
    2. A teacher may not teach creationism as science, on two grounds: The state standards call for something else, and the courts have determined creationism to be religious dogma, not science — science teachers especially need to be teaching science, not religion.
    3. There is no excuse for zapping students with a cattle prod or an electrical testing device not suitable for classroom use in that fashion; this is a core safety issue.
    4. Freshwater is a licensed teacher. He has been adequately instructed on what the law is, as he swore when he took the oath to get the license. Notice that he was violating the law is not necessary. Similarly, we don’t need to give a written reprimand to a pilot who is endangering passengers in an airplane, or an airplance mechanic who is not following safety procedures — their license imposes a duty to follow those rules even if the rules come out after their licensing. A licensee has a duty to stay current on what the law requires. Freshwater’s defense, by the way, is that he was following late dictates of the Ohio Board of Education, dictates which are not now current. Freshwater has waived a defense of required written notice, if one could be established.
    5. Freshwater also had a duty to protect the religious rights of the students. Your complete disregard for the religious freedom of the young people is disconcerting.

  97. Björn

    @Atheist: Nice attempt to shift the goalposts. In all previous posts, your issue has *not* simply been that “documentation of specific incidents at the time they occurred, written, with details, and formal warning letter” are supposedly missing. Your issue from your very first post has been “firing this man means that you hate religion; the man has done nothing wrong; etc.” Only now that this position becomes more and more unsupportable, you shift to “proper documentation is missing”.

    Your only other remaining point which is *not* about “proper documentation” is the one about making the cross on the arm. As I already said, it does not matter if this was done “voluntarily” – the fact is that the teacher harmed a pupil *at will*. There is nothing “debatable” about that.
    That supposedly many other teachers did this also does also not excuse that in the least; these others teachers should be fired, too, if they harmed a pupil at will (oh, BTW, I’m a science teacher myself…)

    Your football example is irrelevant: first, it is known from the start that sports can lead to injury – whereas science isn’t known for that. Second, pupils harming themselves accidentally during playing has little to do with a teacher harming a pupil at will, just for demonstrating something. I don’t understand why you see anything comparable there!

    That the parents did not complain immediately can have many causes – peer pressure and respect for supposed authorities comes to mind. If a teacher says that a procedure is common, parents will often take his word, even if they have some doubts. But when it then later turns out that the teacher isn’t such an authority after all and is shown to have committed other misdeeds, it is much more easier for the parents to realize that the teacher probably has been wrong before, and finally voice their complaints.

    And, BTW, I only mentioned that you appear to be a troll *after* I answered all your arguments. So your remark “Stop with the troll business. Such accusations just make it look as if those here cannot respond to my arguments.” is simply whining without any basis.

  98. Björn

    @Atheist: Nice attempt to shift the goalposts. In all previous posts, your issue has *not* simply been that “documentation of specific incidents at the time they occurred, written, with details, and formal warning letter” are supposedly missing. Your issue from your very first post has been “firing this man means that you hate religion; the man has done nothing wrong; etc.” Only now that this position becomes more and more unsupportable, you shift to “proper documentation is missing”.

    Your only other remaining point which is *not* about “proper documentation” is the one about making the cross on the arm. As I already said, it does not matter if this was done “voluntarily” – the fact is that the teacher harmed a pupil *at will*. There is nothing “debatable” about that.
    That supposedly many other teachers did this also does also not excuse that in the least; these others teachers should be fired, too, if they harmed a pupil at will (oh, BTW, I’m a science teacher myself…)

    Your football example is irrelevant: first, it is known from the start that sports can lead to injury – whereas science isn’t known for that. Second, pupils harming themselves accidentally during playing has little to do with a teacher harming a pupil at will, just for demonstrating something. I don’t understand why you see anything comparable there!

    That the parents did not complain immediately can have many causes – peer pressure and respect for supposed authorities comes to mind. If a teacher says that a procedure is common, parents will often take his word, even if they have some doubts. But when it then later turns out that the teacher isn’t such an authority after all and is shown to have committed other misdeeds, it is much more easier for the parents to realize that the teacher probably has been wrong before, and finally voice their complaints.

    And, BTW, I only mentioned that you appear to be a troll *after* I answered all your arguments. So your remark “Stop with the troll business. Such accusations just make it look as if those here cannot respond to my arguments.” is simply whining without any basis.

  99. Ed Darrell has just put up an outstanding post on this matter here.

  100. Parents have to sign a release for their children to participate in sports, like football. Child protection guidelines probably would require a release from the parents before zapping the kid with high-voltage testing devices. This is one more example of dangerous insubordination.

    When a teacher endangers a child, physically or mentally, no written warnings are required from officials. Quite the opposite, supervisors can be held liable for failing to act immediately.

  101. Annie

    I used to live in Mt. Vernon, and I can attest to its insular, bigoted, racist, gender-biased worldview.

    There are many private “Christian” and “Bible” institutions that will take the monster willingly on staff so that they can continue to force their authoritarian dogma on obedient students and their compliantperpetually barefoot and pregnant mamas.

    Mt. Vernon is the county seat of Knox – that’s the place that forced voters in the Kenyon College town of Gambier to wait hours and hours and hours in the rain to vote in the 2004 presidential election – because conveniently, that’s the sole voting place which reliably turns out Democrats instead of the Republican majority in the rest of the county.

    It hides behind “Christianity” as a front for its strong armed criminal mob ethics and actions. It is anything BUT Christ-like. Social justice? Humility? Golden Rule?

    Pshaw.

  102. Cogito Ergo Sum Dei

    “Atheist”,

    My my, but you have traveled far from your normal haunt on Fark, haven’t you.?

    Folks, for those of you who don’t know, “Atheist” is merely the non de plume of a *very* well know Fark.com threadcrapping troll. I won’t name names, because it would be rude; however I will say that a quick perusal of any Fark thread that has to do with “prayer in schools” or “evolution” will bring up numerous posts that mirror “Atheist”‘s style. On Fark, he’s known affectionately as both a troll and the dimmest human being to walk the planet. He also claims to have a “GED in law”… for whatever it’s worth (sorry, but you really can’t make this stuff up).

    In any case, since “Atheist” has decided to crash the party, it’s best thet you all know a few things:

    1) he can’t be reasoned with (as you’ve already seen)

    2) he lies pathilogically (as you’ve already seen)

    3) he don’t read linked articles, webistes, or sources (ditto)

    4) knows absolutely nothing about either science or Constitutional rights

    5) cannot accept that the Christian religion is not allowed to pervade all aspects of public life

    6) feels that anyone who does not agree with him is either “oppressing” him, or is a fool/idiot/a**hole.

    In the end, it’s a waste of time to talk to him, but he does make an excellent example of fundie stupidity for others to ogle. However, it’s usually not worth the time it takes to feed the troll – especially because he tends to flee after posting around 50 comments.

  103. Yes, Paul – Atheist has hijacked this discussion, and yet cannot completely hide his intentions. G

  104. Atheist

    Ed, Bjorn,

    The fact that you have to gang up here should tell you something is wrong with your logic.

    Sorry, Ed, once again you’re wrong. Are you sure you’re a lawyer? You try to apply topics off-point. I cited the link as indication that application of the Est Cl to schools came about gradually. I intended no further application as it contains none. But you have attempted to take it off-point by extending its conclusions concerning prayer to other matters such as evolution/creationism.

    The link’s only application to the Freshwater situation is to prayer at FCA meetings, showing the HR study exaggerates the problem because the probelm could be solved simply by moving the FCA meetings to after-school hours, still on the school grounds. Freshwater might even lead FCA prayer under those circumstances as a private citizen not a teacher. So that invalidates the whole FCA part of the HR report, showing the report itself biased.

    Now, for the creationist/curriculum problem. The ONLY law on point came about with Dover, and that has hardly spread throughout the nation. Many school boards are going ahead with some creationism introduction. So Dover may take hold, but it hasn’t yet nationally. Even then, it addressed school boards, not teachers. So all your blather about the Est Cl law still isn’t on point. You’re trying to make your own law.

    You also seem to ignore employment law. Mistakes are not always ground for termination. A pattern of warnings, or insubordination and warning, has to be shown, with explicit dates and timely warning, written. From the HR study, it seems (according to the study) anything the school admin said to Freshwater was informal and verbal, as were parent complaints. Finally, complaints themselves are inapplicable unless specifically verified and determined valid. Just the vague assertion, Parents complained, isn’t enough. (We don’t fire police just because a hobo complained. Complaints need a determination, wtih sepcifics.)

    So, we’re back to what I claimed earlier – if the school board wants him out, it had better rely on showing insubordination, not Est Cl issues.

    Frankly, I hope this Freshwater screws over the school board in courts – not because I like creationism, but because I dislike arrogant self-righteous twits who ignore due process. And, yes, even creationists have a right to due process.

    The further advantage to society from due process is that it gives people like Freshwater the time to realise the trouble they’re getting into, and backtrack.

    The “injury” and subsequent parents’ complaint: Regardless of their reasons for the parents’ delay, it weakens any case. They should have taken the kid to the doctor immeidatel, then taken the medical record to the police immediately , then the police report to the school board, all within days. Then the teacher should have the right of response – a basic Constitutional right all those self-righteous here are ignoring – with a proper hearing to determine extent of “injury”, proportion of responsibility, etc.

    The football analogy does hold. “first, it is known from the start that sports can lead to injury – whereas science isn’t known for that.” Wrong. Much science is with protective gear. It is as absurd to claim the teacher assaulted as to claim a tattoo shop assaulted (or to make a court case over a teenage hickey). The marking business is too obviously a trumped-up pretext to purge a religious teacher.

    But please keep on. I’d love to see the school board continue the marking b.s. It weakens their case. Their case is further weakened by (1) the report’s stating, “there did not appear to be any intent by Mr. Freshwater to cause injury to any student” (2) “The current or former students that were interviewed that had participated in the December 2007 incident or other similar incidents in earlier years described the demonstration in the same manner as had Mr. Freshwater with one exception. The all described the mark Mr. Freshwater put on his arm as a “cross”.” This confirms Freshwater’s claim of voluntary and undermines assault. It alos shows earlier years therefore school admin knew about it in earlier years therefore their silence indicted consent.

    Last, about the troll business. YOU fellows introduced it. So stop whining yourselves. If you can’t support your arguments, then lay off the ad hom nonsense.

  105. LARRY

    Long and in some cases interesting notes. I was a Smokejumper in central Idaho with John Freshwater for several years. I knew of John’s Christian faith but seldom did he speak of it. He was a very good worker and well liked by all. A very diverse group of people make up the jumper world. In 1990 I broke my leg on a parachute jump in a wilderness area of Idaho. After several hours a helicopter was able to fly in and dispatch me from the area. John accompanied me from the LZ to the hospital. At no time did I have to worry about anything, I knew John had my back. Something you cannot say about everyone. Some of these notes come with a personal attack. I can only say if you really knew John he would be your friend and you would want your children to know him too. What is right or wrong in teaching will go on forever. As some of you have documented with long pieces or short pieces of information only shows your desire to persuade thought. Which is what teaching is all about. Good day to all.

  106. Cogito Ergo Sum Dei

    “At no time did I have to worry about anything, I knew John had my back. ”

    You’re lucky he didn’t have your front, or he would’ve burned a cross into your arm.

    Seriously though, this anecdotal evidence proves what exactly? That he didn’t always wear is fundamentalism on his sleeve? My, that’s comforting – he only wore it loud and proud in the classroom, or at the protest, or with the atheletes – in other words, only in instances where it vioated the rights of others. Nice. Well, at least he’s not trying to hide what he is, right?

    I do love it when people crawl out of the literal woodwork in order to defend the indefensible:

    “He burned a cross into students’s arms. ”

    “B-but…besides that who burnig thing, he’s a really good guy!”

    Priceless.

    (sigh) If we could only put an actual monetary vaule on ignorance, the majority of this country would be rich.

  107. Atheist

    Cogito,

    Fark? Wtf? Never heard of it. And I’ve never posted about the creationism issue until this past day. But don’t let that interfere with your paranoia.

    “Cogito Ergo Sum Dei” Bit of a presumptuous title, don’t you think?

    Oh, and no member of my family has ever been a Christian.

  108. RBH

    Atheist wrote

    Now, for the creationist/curriculum problem. The ONLY law on point came about with Dover, and that has hardly spread throughout the nation. Many school boards are going ahead with some creationism introduction.

    Unfortunately for that argument, in 2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching. Thereafter that instruction was repeated on more than one occasion by administrators. He systematically ignored those instructions, going to the length of teaching students code words to be used in the classroom to indicate when he was teaching something that contradicted his interpretation of the Bible.

    Insubordination is one of the four grounds cited in the board’s resolution to initiate the termination process. Freshwater is getting all the due process that’s required by Ohio statutes.

    I sincerely hope that Freshwater files the “viewpoint discrimination” suit he threatened in April. It will be good to see that latest Disco ‘Tute legal ploy shoved down their throats.

  109. bobhope2112

    [quote]The fact that the parents didn’t file a police complaint [about Freshwater burning a cross into their child's arm], and didn’t file their school complaint until 4 months later, all make a good argument that the harm was inconsequential.[/quote]

    The findings from HR On Call, address your dismissal. Your assertion that the parents did not make a complaint is in error:

    [quote]The parents who filed the complaint said their primary concern was what had been done to their child’s arm and why? They were also concerned about it being a cross. The marks on their child’s arm caused pain the night of the incident, December 6, 2007, however they said that part of the pain could have been due to the spot being further irritated by the equipment he wore later that evening. They stated the burn remained on their child’s arm for three or four weeks. They said that they did not take the issue to the police or the hospital because of concern regarding what would happen to Mr. Freshwater. They didn’t want him to go to jail.

    They approached the school regarding their concern on Friday, December 7, 2007. The parents indicated they wanted anonymity, did not want the authorities contacted and did not want Mr.
    Freshwater to lose his job, but wanted to learn what happened with the electrostatic device and
    wanted the activity stopped. The school investigated the incident and met with Mr. Freshwater on the following school day (December 10, 2007) advising him it was inappropriate to have used the device on any student, that he was not to use it again and confiscating the device. The school
    followed up with Mr. Freshwater after the return from winter break and gave him a letter on January 22, 2008 advising him, “As per our conversation the electrostatic machine(s) should not be used for purposes of shocking students. It was further directed that the machine(s) should be removed from the classroom or locked up so that the students do not have access to these
    machines.”[/quote]

  110. Cogito Ergo Sum Dei

    “Fark? Wtf? Never heard of it.”

    Now now Skinny****…sorry, I almost gave your name away. You do know that IP addresses are logged when comments are posted, right? Hmmm…I guess not.

    As for not being a Christian, may I just say – HAHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry about that – you’re really not a Christian – really, of course – you simply parrot talking points from the Discovery Institute press releases by accident…it’s a total and utter coinky-dink. And, of ocurse, you also have a bridge to sell me, right, ’cause I’m buying…

    Come on now. Many up, Nancy. You’ve been busted – at least have the grace to admit that your charade was a failure. By continuing to protest, you only make yourself look worse.

    Little tip: most of us are a fair bit smarter then you, and can smell excrement a mile away.

    Now why don’t you go run along and play, like a good little fundamentalist? After all, I hear Bevits is waiting for you so you two can Rapture away together.

    Incidently, you know why this nick was chosen don’t you – because it inflames only one group of people – fundies.

    And guess who took the bait?

    Game. Set. Match.

  111. bobhope2112

    Atheist,

    Do you deny the Holy Spirit?

  112. Sorry, Ed, once again you’re wrong. Are you sure you’re a lawyer? You try to apply topics off-point. I cited the link as indication that application of the Est Cl to schools came about gradually.

    As I suspected, you didn’t bother to read your own citation.

    It doesn’t say that religious law developed gradually, nor does it deny the refutation of your case, the fact that religious freedom law as Freshwater violated it was established prior to 1800.

    And, the piece you cited cites each one of Freshwater’s actions as a violation of the law.

    You’d do well to read it.

    You can learn a lot just by studying, you know.

  113. Now, for the creationist/curriculum problem. The ONLY law on point came about with Dover, and that has hardly spread throughout the nation.

    Glad to have you back with us, Rip. While you were passed out for the last 50 years, there were some changes.

    Nine cases prior to Dover, dating back to 1968′s Epperson vs. Arkansas. Pay particular attention to the Supreme Court decision in 1987 in Edwards v. Aguillard, since, as you no doubt know, decisions of the Supreme Court bind all jurisdictions in the U.S.

  114. Larry, your story just doesn’t add up. In 1990 when you broke your leg in the Idaho wilderness, John Freshwater was teaching middle school in the Ohio wilderness. So, it seems very unlikely to me he got your back on that eventful day.

  115. bobhope2112

    The Wing Nut Daily has made reference to Freshwater as a smokejumper. It’s entirely possible for a teacher to fight fires in the summer. All of that, including the veracity of Larry’s comments, has no bearing on Freshwater’s attempt to interject his religious views into his science class.

  116. Austin “…teachers would be obliged to “teach the controversy” about GPUD (God Pushes Us Down)”
    The correct term is Intelligent Falling

  117. Atheist

    RBH

    “Unfortunately for that argument, in 2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching.”

    The HR report doesn’t state that. Why not?

    The report does cover the science department (1) establishing a written curriculum but no exclusion is written (2) verbally stating to the interviewers that teaching creationism is prohibited.

    So we’re back to my claim that the school board process is sloppy. If it knew this to be an issue for years, it should have explicitly written exclusions and delivered them in writing by proper service to Freshwater. Did they? You imply yes, but I’ve not seen it in the report of articles. The law does give the school board that authority.

    Ed, you’re waffling again. You know full well that Epperson is irrelevant because it had to do with prohibiting teaching of evolution, not prohibiting teaching of creationism.

    Segraves found that the school board could impose standards, not that the Est Cl forbade creationism. In fact, it said parents couldn’t object to the teaching of evolution. Not our problem here.

    McLean comes close but no cigar. It prohibits Arkansas Board from requiring creationism. Again, not the problem here.

    Edwards found Louisiana could not require creationism. Not our problem here. Not relevant to the question of whether Est Cl prohibits teacher from teaching creationism. Require and prohibit are two different words, you know.

    Webster affirms the school board’s authority to prohibit creationism – exactly the reason I have now repeatedly said the school board’s strategy should be to prohibit in writing then show insubordination. Once again, the Est Clause irrelevant. The authority is the board’s, which can prohibit creationism. I have only said several times it should do so precisely, explicitly, in writing, not the to-date informal verbal stuff.

    Peloza affirmed a school board’s right to require evolution be taught. It did not prohibit creationism. Once again you’re not on point.

    Freiler addressed a school board’s imposing mention of creationism, not prohibiting it.

    LeVake established the authority of the school board, not Est Clause. You know quite well the narrower grounds are preferred. So I remain correct that you are trying to expand the Est Cl beyond current law.

    Selman was inconclusive.

    Dover, as I said, is almost on point – it addresses teaching creationism, but from the viewpoint of school board rights, not teacher rights. Your own link admits, “This [Dover] was the first challenge to the constitutionality of teaching “intelligent design” in the public school science classroom.” So, your link affirms me completely.

  118. bobhope2112

    RBH: Unfortunately for that argument, in 2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching.

    Atheist: The HR report doesn’t state that. Why not?

    It seems clear to me that Freshwater knew he was not supposted to teach ID and creationism. There’s this from the HR report:

    In response to a question as to whether he has taught creationism or intelligent design, Mr. Freshwater said that in 2003 he proposed putting a policy in place to critically analyze evolution. He said that he was cautious about following school policy and protocol. He took it to the Board, but they did not adopt his proposal. He concluded by saying that since that proposal was not adopted, “I teach evolution.”

    Also, his habit of dispersing and retrieving hand-outs that referenced ID strongly suggests that he did not want parents or administrators to see those materials.

  119. Austin

    Establishing the sovereignty of ID over Evolution is really only a secondary cog in the machinations of Creationists to begin with. Like the infamous Wedge Document, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Financier Howard Ahmanson Jr., who provides most of the financing to the Discovery Institute, wants to establish a theocratic government in the U.S. He has stated that he wants to install biblical law, and supports the Christian Reconstructionists, who argue for the death penalty for idolatry, blasphemy, adultery, homosexuality and other offenses presented in the bible as capital crimes.

  120. Austin “…who argue for the death penalty for idolatry”
    The death penalty for blasphemy? God damn!

  121. I’m listening to Dave Daubenmire’s radio show as I write this. I hope to write something up on it for Theoconia, but it probably won’t be done until tomorrow

    If I take it at face value, Daubenmire is not part of the “defense” team. He’s out on his own and admits that he’s playing “bad cop.” He’s evoked Woody Hayes and Bo Shembeckler (sp) and turned it into a metaphoric football game going on about how he’d handle the situation, which is very different that what’s happening as far as I can tell.

    It sounds like the good people of Mount Vernon, even if they support him, aren’t really getting into this But then Coach always blames everybody else when something goes wrong–”evangellifish.” The callers are frothing. Wednesday night there’s a rally at Riverside Park in Mount Vernon

  122. alinaphoenix

    I think it is sad and awful that a teacher can gather serious complaints for years and not be fired. So a teacher can break the law and abuse his power of position for years, and yet a student can make a single mistake and be tossed out on a “zero tolerance” rule. Hardly seems fair. And we wonder what’s wrong with society?

    Namaste,
    Lina

  123. whiskytangofoxtrot

    From alinaphoenix: I think it is sad and awful that a teacher can gather serious complaints for years and not be fired. So a teacher can break the law and abuse his power of position for years, and yet a student can make a single mistake and be tossed out on a “zero tolerance” rule. Hardly seems fair. And we wonder what’s wrong with society?

    The fact that a teacher can gather serious complaints for years without being fired, points up the presence of laziness or complicity by administration. The school administration is responsible for the quality of the educators. In many cases, CYA principals might write-up a teacher only in response to multiple complaints against a teacher, then hope the whole thing dies away before they have to muster the effort of observing the teacher, monitoring materials used, putting the teacher on 90-day notice…notifying the teacher at each point and being willing to submit to the union and district grievance policy. It’s a lot of work to get rid of a teacher, but it is far from impossible, and good administrators have an efficient game plan in place. Of course, so do evil admins, but that is why we still need teachers’ unions for checks and balances ;)

  124. Hi Lina! That strikes me as a pretty powerful point you’ve made. Society either gets crazier or I get less tolerant of its craziness as I get older. I don’t know which it is. Welcome to the blog!

    Whisky, your analysis is very illuminating. Thanks for that!

  125. Hi Austin! When it come to religion in this country, nothing scares me more than the Dominionist Movement of which you speak. I used to believe they were too fringe to worry about. Then the current administration came to power and — apparently — their political influence took a leap upwards.

  126. RBH

    RBH

    “Unfortunately for that argument, in 2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching.”

    The HR report doesn’t state that. Why not?

    Beats me. But I was at the board meeting in 2003 when the board rejected Freshwater’s request to do it by a 4-1 vote, basing its rejection on the rejection of Freshwater’s proposal by the district science curriculum committee.

  127. Atheist

    Another detail about this claim a poster made above: “Unfortunately for that argument, in 2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching.”

    Not exactly. Apparently in 2003 Freshwater tried to sell the board a full-fledged creationist programme, and the board turned it down.

    So, Freshwater didn’t implement the proposed programe, but instead introduced ad-hoc creationist teaching here and there.

    That means he complied with the letter (though perhaps not the spirit) of the board decision.

    So, it again supports my claim that the board’s procedure is sloppy. It should have been far more explicit about what he can and cannot do, in writing.

  128. drew

    “atheist”
    Your analysis of the edwards case in your post above is incorrect. While the ruling directly undoes(undid) the LA act for teaching creationism it also establishes that teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.

  129. Erik

    There is NO scientifically credible evidence for any creationist or ID theories. Theories without scientifically credible evidence have no place in the science classroom (other than, perhaps, as a negative example of science). Science teachers who include such theories demonstrate ignorance of the subject matter or willful attempts to teach falsehoods. Teachers who are ignorant of their subject matter and teachers who willfully teach falsehoods are incompetent teachers. Regardless of the legal outcomes of this case, and quite aside from the act of branding a student, all school boards should move to dismiss, on the grounds of incompetence, any science teacher that attempts to give credence to any creation myth as part of the science curriculum.

  130. 1. Freshwater has a teaching license. That means he either knows, or claims to know, what the law is, and will follow it. The board does not need to issue a written complaint if he steals lunch money from a kid, if he strings a kid up by his toes, if he preaches instead of teaches. Atheist, you’re making a good case to yank the guy’s license, but you’re making no headway on a case not to fire his gluteals.

    2. The common thread through those cases, as drew notes, is the finding that creationism is not science, but is instead religious dogma. Every teacher knows religion is not to be taught — or, of course, we should yank their license. Keep going, A-theist, you may make a case for keeping this guy from every standing in front of a group of innocent children, ever again.

    In each case where creationism was prohibited, it was because it is religion. Each of those cases turns, in whole or in part, on that issue, from Epperson on. Epperson noted that creationism is religion, and can’t be used by school officials to “balance” evolution. Teachers are included in that ruling as school officials. Segraves held that teaching evolution is no violation of anyone’s free exercise rights — which goes directly to Freshwater’s claims of religious freedom. McLean determined, with creationists under oath, that creationism is religious dogma only, without a scintilla of science. Edwards adopted the ruling in McLean and applied it to the nation. Webster’s impact is that a school board must act to stop teachers like Freshwater in order to protect the First Amendment Rights of students. Peloza is on all four points perfect for this case: The courts held that a district can tell a teacher not to teach creationism, and that a teacher has no religious right to teach creationism to be infringed, so creationism must not be taught. Tangipahoa went after sleazy attempts to get around previous laws, and found that ID is the same religious dogma as all other forms of creationism. LeVake is also perfectly on point: The courts held LeVake had no right to teach “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, and that his attempt to do so violated the establishment clause; and the districts canning him was no violation of any of his religious rights; Cobb County struck down more attempts to weasel around the law; Kitzmiller took ID apart piece by piece, showed it is all religious dogma, and reminded that it’s a violation of the Constitution for anyone, teachers or administrators to teach creationism as science in a science class.

    Each case pertains in large part to this current controversy; two cases are perfectly on point. Freshwater has no legal leg to stand on, leaving you with no leg to urinate on.

    Read the cases, stop trying to twist the law, and the facts.

  131. Green Eagle

    Here is my favorite part of this whole story: the report on the incident stated “Mr. Freshwater did burn a cross onto the complaining family’s child’s arm using an electrostatic device not designed for that purpose.”

    Obviously, the whole problem with this incident is the failure of the school system to provide Mr. Freshwater with a device which was designed to burn crosses into people’s arms. I thought I would bring an end to this unfortunate problem by purchasing one for them, but I have been unable to find one on the internet. Perhaps someone who works at a Christian supply store can help me out here.

  132. @ evangelistbro:

    Why is someone a fool? Seeing an enormous, intricately complex, ordered universe, and denying even the possibility of an intelligent designer? Is that intellectually honest?

    You are absolutely correct! I mean, every time I look at this enormously and intricately complex God, who is at least as complex as the universe if not more so, with all his omnipotency and omniscience and omni-everything, I realize that it would be intellectually dishonest for me to not admit that God probably has an “intelligent designer.”

    The argument from complexity falls on its own sword, genius. Infinite regress; turtles all the way down. Ever hear of those, bro?

    Quit pushing back the question, all the while pretending that you’re answering it.

  133. Sweet

    Since Ed Darrell has instructed us that the Danbury letter is an official document with the force of legality I thought I would take the time to post what it says in full.

    To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

    Gentlemen

    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

    Th Jefferson
    Jan. 1. 1802.

    Is Jefferson a crazy “fundie”? after all he noted a common creator, and all of you frothing at the mouth over this man’s Christianity while screaming separation of church and state are all well aware that Thomas Jefferson also attended church nearly every Sunday in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES right? oh yea, so did Madison. In fact services in the House of Representatives continued up until the Civil War. This information is easily accessed through the Library of Congress.

    It should also be noted that in Connecticut, where the Danbury Baptists were located, the OFFICIAL state religion was Congregationalism, and it remained state supported until 1818, and was also the state supported religion in Massachusetts until 1834. It could be that the Danbury Baptists truly had some angst regarding their position and ability to freely worship?

    The nastiness directed by some posters, such as Green Eagle, is disgusting. The story, according to some, is that this teacher is a wack job because he is a Christian. Not that this teacher was inappropriate in his use of science equipment and should be dismissed for injuring a child. No, the focus is what a twit because he believes there are other possibilities outside of evolution. The teacher himself attempts to become the wronged party and the school board as well as the press have assisted in his quest by not making the issue exactly what it is, injury to a child. The rest of it never had to enter the picture had the school simply stuck to the issue, but the injury to the student has been lost in everyone fainting over the branding in a cross shape. The students family attempted to approach the issue with common sense and attempted to focus the issue where it belonged. But some folks are just too vested in demonizing those who profess faith, and are convinced any public display of Christian faith will result in a theocracy, so the story becomes polarized and distorted. The twit gets to have support when it is undeserved, and not because of his religious views, but because he was dumb enough to use an instrument in an inappropriate manner and harmed a student. For that he should be dismissed, but then in this country we have teachers who have done some incredibly stupid things, but they still get to keep their jobs. And why is that? Oh yea, the all powerful union who protects the good, the bad and the ugly.

    And we also have some teachers who are so wedded to their ideology and/or version of Christianity that full history never gets taught. Funny how a teachers world view often gets passed onto students.

  134. It’s fascinates me how “Atheist” manufactures one inane position after the other. What does it say about human nature that some of us are willing to do that? Does he do it because he suffers from some sort of pathology? In his own mind, how does he justify his lying? I would give my last dollar for an MRI scan of his brain while he’s composing his posts here.

  135. Sweet

    The Scopes Monkey trial was a definitive turning point regarding evolution teaching in schools. The book that evolution was taught out of was Hunter’s Civic Biology. A snap shot of what the court insisted be taught in school.

    At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.

    Also in the original copy of the book

    “[T]he science of being well born,” his text instructed, is an imperative for sophisticated society. “When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand,” he wrote, arguing that tuberculosis, epilepsy, and even “feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity.” “If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading,” Hunter lamented in Civic Biology. “Humanity will not allow this but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race.

    Oops, there really is a thread between evolution and the idea of offing those who don’t quite make the grade. Funny that.

  136. Erik

    Sweet: I fail to see your point. Is it that because someone uses facts for an evil purpose that the facts are actually wrong or should be suppressed? Because that seems to be what you are arguing by pointing out that some people have used the fact of evolution to further their own, evil, ends or support their own, vile, beliefs. Yet the fact of evolution remains true. Perhaps instead of attempting to remain and keep others ignorant by attacking this truth you might be more productive by learning and then explaining how the fact of evolution doesn’t actually support the vile beliefs you cite.

  137. One of the Iron Rules of the Internet is that any post on evolution vs. creationism will attract an inordinately large amount of comment, both pro and con. Yet there is really no good reason for this. Evolution is about as solid as one of the truly definitional theories gets. There are far more controversial theories in science. Why is it that every man and his dog feels free to spout off about evolutionary biology but not about, say, string theory, which is far less well-attested? Unless you are able to understand and use, inter alia, the concepts of: Kaluza-Klein theory; the Chern-Simons 3-form; the Aatiyah-Singer index theorem; the AdS/CFT correspondence and Lie groups, you have no business talking to the grown-ups when it comes to theoretical physics. Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with, for example: aposematism (contra crypsis); the Baldwin effect; allopatric vs. sympatric speciation; r/K selection; segregation distorters or iterated prisoners’ dilemma, you are just going to look like a chump when you go up against people whose meat and drink it is to study these things. People are not reluctant to let Jehovah’s Witnesses into their homes because they are afraid of the force of their arguments; they are reluctant because arguing with invincibly-ignorant fruitcakes is a waste of time.

    This is not the fallacy of the Argument from Authority. That fallacy arises when a bunch of Nobel Prize-winning chemists signs a letter advocating the Kyoto treaty, or a bunch of bishops condemns gay marriage. It is not an argument from authority (at least not a fallacious one) when your mechanic tells you your car needs a new fuel pump or your dentist tells you your wisdom teeth need to come out. The sheer arrogance and anti-intellectual stubbornness of the creationist crowd is awesome to behold. One can be a believer in both God and evolution (although personally I find it too much of a stretch). One cannot be a young-earth creationist and a rational, educated human being.

  138. From the perspective of someone outside the USA, what struck me the most was how any religious issue was blown way out of proportion. Blame it on the talk show hosts if you will, but does it really matter what a teacher teaches. I was taught evolution in school, creationism in Church, but both we more than willing to admit they could be wrong.
    The evolutionists that there are still things to be explained, the creationists that it is very possible that Genesis is a simplified version of what really happened, which was as much as the Jews could understand.
    After all if the pansepermianists are right, we may not be from earth at all.

  139. The Scopes Monkey trial was a definitive turning point . . .

    But, could the Scopes Monkey be acquitted today?

  140. Atheist

    RBH, as usual you are dodging the issue.

    You said,

    2003 the board of education specifically and explicitly prohibited Freshwater from using intelligent design and creationism materials in his teaching.

    I pointed out that apparently the board did not prohibit intelligent design in the classroom, but rather prohibited Freshwater’s proposal for what amounted to a creationist curriculum.

    So, why do you ignore the distinction in your response?

    You also ignored (and I will therefore repeat it again) my points that:

    1. The board should have not simply rejected Freshwater’s proposal but should have told him explicitly, in writing, that it wanted no mention whatsoever of creationism in the classroom. I have asked more than once now (on this or other boards) for confirmation of whether it did so. The Freshwater-haters won’t respond.

    2. Absent such an explicit prohibition, the case against Freshwater for insubordination is weak.

    By the way, if you were present, are you involved personally at all? If so, haven’t you a conflict of interest posting here without at least disclosure of that involvement or connection?

    For the record, (1) I live far from Ohio (2) I have never, before the past 2 days of comment, been involved in the issue personally beyond attending an occasional, informal, local atheist dinner.

  141. Atheist

    David Gillies,

    The sheer arrogance and anti-intellectual stubbornness of the creationist crowd is awesome to behold.

    Your sheer, loathsome intolerance is awesome to behold.

    The creationist crowd’s position isn’t arrongance, it’s religion which is by definition neither intellectual nor rational.

    The words you use to conden them show you have neither understanding of, nor tolerance for, the ubiquitous phenomenon of religion. Religion’s irrationality is irrelevant – most of humanity is irrational in one way or another.

    Matthew (above) and I are arguing for tolerance. Those here who cannot understand that, are just as dangerous as the religious fundamentalists themselves.

  142. bobhope2112

    Atheist,

    While you’re waiting for RBH, can you answer my simple question:

    Do you deny the Holy Spirit?

  143. Andrea

    Atheist, if in a hearing the law *does* find “the case against Freshwater for insubordination is weak”, and it is ruled he cannot be fired over these instances, you can be darn sure the school board/district/principal will be very clear, very explicit, and have it all down in writing what he is not to do, and that should he continue to do it, he WILL be fired for insubordination.

    And like a man who’s cheated on his wife but claims he loves her and wants to save the marriage, he’s going to have to act in “good faith” (NPI!) in order to rebuild the trust he has forfeited.

    Would Freshwater be capable of doing his job without the “branding” experiment, without the Ken Hovind video, the mysterious handouts he distributes and then takes back, the “code words” for when he’s teaching something he believes is wrong, etc.?

    I suspect he will not be. And this is exactly why he had no business teaching the way he did for 21 years in a public school.

    If where I was working required me to do what I considered lying on a regular basis (NOT just a one-off thing here and there – different moral dillemna), I would not take that job (mostly why I did not go into Advertising).

    If I believed the rules and laws prohibiting me from working where I wanted to unfairly put me in a position of having to deny what I believed to be the truth, I would work to change those rules and laws as they affect my right to free speech/freedom of religion.

    However, in the above case, I would accept restrictions could it be shown that my exercising my free speech/religion thereby hindered someone else’s exercise of those same or other constitutional rights.

    If I didn’t do either one of the two (three?) things above and instead took the financially easy but morally cowardly way out by doing what I knew was against the rules of my job, I would expect that I would, eventually, be fired.

    My Cheating Husband Analogy is pretty useful I think. If a husband truly wants to save his marriage, he will not complain that his wife “checks up on him”, or that they have to have individual and/or couples therapy sessions regularly. And if he cheats again, the wife can be sure her husband obviously, for whatever reasons, really cares more about … sex, ego, whatever … than he does about her and the marriage.

    I shall be interested to see what kind “husband” Freshwater is. His behavior in the long term will show whether it’s Jesus he truly loves, or Mammon.

  144. mtnmama

    Annie —
    “I can attest to its insular, bigoted, racist, gender-biased worldview.”

    Doubt you’re still around, but I’ll say it anyway: As a newbie to Mt Vernon, I would hardly classify even half in the light you have. Sure there are fanatics (see the MM), but there are in every community, including the one we previously lived in. Perhaps you weren’t privilidged enough to meet the more folks who are “Social justice? Humility? Golden Rule?” They/We are here. The vast majority of people are far from how you describe us; sorry you couldn’t find us.

    For those who are focused on the why now … Mr Short hasn’t yet finished a year as superintendent as he was hired in the middle of the school year, Mr White was in his first year of being principal at the middle school, and the new school board was elected in November. The report clearly says that former administration was aware of complaints and even references that a former assistant principal didn’t/wouldn’t follow through. Now the new people are left cleaning up the mess that was left behind.

    As for the Bible, it is my understanding that MVCS has a policy against personal devotionals on a teacher’s desk. Mr Freshwater was never told to remove his Bible from the classroom or even from his deskspace, but to keep in a drawer while students were in the classroom.

  145. Reality Check

    It seems to me that the proponents ID, rather than condoning intelligence, use their pseudo theory to avoid acquiring any intelligence about the biodiversity we all face every day.

    There is ‘intelligence’ in the design of the genomes and gene pools of the various organism groupings that populate the earth. This ‘intelligence’ has enabled evolution to occur through either genetic mutation or gestational triggers that determine if a gene’s trait is manifested or not. Over time these modifications have become concentrated into new species or modern species that are direct derivations of previous directly related species. For example there is a developing agreement that modern birds are direct decedents of dinosaurs, typically the velociraptor types.

  146. ‘Atheist’ (if you’re really a non-believer then I’m Scarlett Johannson’s secret sugar daddy) – I am perfectly tolerant of people believing whatever the hell they want. What I am not tolerant of is mediaeval obscurantism dressed up as science, and the force-feeding of this pap to defenceless children. The very essence of toleration is give-and-take, and what fundamentalist Bible-thumpers and Islamofascist barbarians have in common is that they believe their viewpoint is uniquely privileged. Any attempt to point out the manifest flaws and inconsistencies in religious belief is howled down as ‘intolerance’. Science, on the other hand, doesn’t work like that. If you think you’ve found a flaw in a theory, then write it up, get it refereed, and go on to acclamation and glory. The ID charade is a transparent wedge tactic. A proponent of ID and his religion merit respect, as Mencken said, only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. The moment he tries to foist this nonsense on the rest of us is when toleration ends. That is the arrogance I am talking about: the idea that you can just step up and start jabbering on about a subject on which you know next to nothing, and expect to be taken seriously, simply because scripture (or your interpretation of scripture) tells you to. Would I be compelled, under the threat of being thought ‘intolerant’, to listen to someone propounding baseless and jejune hypotheses in the fields of software and electronic engineering (in both of which subjects I have academic qualifications)? No, of course not. I’d be legitimately entitled to tell the bothersome twerp to hop it. As another very wise man said: you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. Evolution is a fact, just as gravity or electromagnetism is a fact, and the neo-Darwinian synthesis is the best explanation we have for why it should be. To think that your ‘faith’ trumps the ratiocination of millions of zoologists, biophysicists, endocrinologists, whathaveyou, is indeed the height of arrogance. It is notable that that branch of the Christian faith which places a high premium on rationalism as the basis for belief (i.e. Roman Catholicism) has said it has no beef with evolutionary theory. I, personally, think that there are no rational grounds for faith, but that does not mean I disrespect someone who thinks otherwise. But Freshwater and his ilk are anti-rationalist, and as such are unfit to be teaching science.

    As an aside, if a child of mine came home from school with a cross burnt into his or her arm with a Tesla coil, I would be down to my lawyer’s office so fast I would emit a sonic boom. I would do all in my power to ensure that the police and relevant prosecutorial authorities laid the most stringent charges that were legally possible. I would be looking for jail time and punitive financial restitution. In short, I would be looking to exact a degree of punishment that, were I a believer, I would liken to the Wrath of God.

  147. Atheist

    As an aside, if a child of mine came home from school with a cross burnt into his or her arm with a Tesla coil, I would be down to my lawyer’s office so fast I would emit a sonic boom.

    And under these circumstances, you’d not get far.

    That’s why there’s been no mention of DA interest.

    The case is analogous to a shop doing a teenager’s ear or body piercing on the teenager’s say-so, without clear parental consent.

    The most that you’re likely to get from either civil or criminal procedure is a fairly stern warning to the establishment(s) not to do it again without clear parental permission.

    Furthermore, since Freshwater had been taking kid volunteers for decade(s), and the school knew about it, he could easily argue it implied school consent – which tranfers the liability from himself as an individual, to the school.

    Of course, now that the matter has become an issue, both Freshwater and school had better have parental consent, or discontinue the demo altogether.

  148. Atheist

    For those who try to compare Freshwater’s offense to child abuse, statutory rape, etc: Something of a guideline might be inferred from laws concerning similar adult marking of voluntary adolescents without parental consent.

    In Australia, no law applies and so tattooing a piercing is legal for a minor without parental consent. Laws are just now being considered:
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/push-to-control-piercing-urges/2007/08/12/1186857347084.html

    In the USA, the law varies from state to state.
    http://www.postgradmed.com/issues/2002/05_02/editorial_may.shtml

    “Mature minors, who are legally distinguished from emancipated minors, have sufficient cognitive and psychological maturity to make medical decisions as if they were of legal age of majority. A judicial proceeding is usually required to determine whether an adolescent is mature. States may have laws requiring parental consent for certain procedures (eg, body piercing, tattooing) even for mature minors.”

    Here you have a state-by-state summary from the National Concil of State Legislatures themselves:
    http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/minorbodyart.htm

    Note that many states have no legislation, meaning parental consent is not required. Ohio does require parental consent for tattoos and body piercing, but the penalty is not specified. Of course, even if charged with a misdemeanor (which the DA has not done), Freshwater’s lawyer could argue that the marking:

    1. disappeared by itself in a few weeks and so is far less serious than tattoos and piercings, which have more permanence.

    2. involved no skin breaking and thus far less health risk than tattoos and piercings, which break the skin and so carry a non-negligible risk of infection (particularly hepatitis C).

    Of all states, the most severe penalty seems to be Wyoming’s, with a fine of $750 and possibility of six months’ prison. However, most of the states specify a lesser penalty for a first conviction, often just a minimal fine – so even in Wyoming a judge would likely impose only the fine for a first conviction.

    I think many here are reacting emotionally, without stopping to analyse the teacher’s (and school’s) exact legal liability.

  149. Atheist

    I should add the possibility that the DA has looked at the matter and doesn’t like Freshwater’s behaviour, but has been unable to do anything precisely because the only vaguely relevant law covers only piercing (including tattoos) without consent, and there was no piercing in the Freshwater case.

    Thus the DA would find no law on point and thus no statutory authority for prosecution.

  150. Atheist

    BobHope

    “Do you deny the Holy Spirit?”

    Yes.

  151. Atheist

    Drew

    “[Edwards] also establishes that teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.”

    I disagree. From the decision itself:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard.html

    The Creationism Act forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in “creation science.”

    States and local school boards are generally afforded considerable discretion in operating public schools. Consequently, the Court has been required often to invalidate statutes which advance religion in public elementary and secondary schools.

    It is equally clear that requiring schools to teach creation science with evolution does not advance academic freedom. The Act does not grant teachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life.

    The Louisiana Creationism Act advances a religious doctrine by requiring either the banishment of the theory of evolution from public school classrooms or the presentation of a religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its entirety. The Act violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it seeks to employ the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose.

    In other words, the decision shows:

    1. The decision overturns the LA Creationism Act, by which the legislature attempted to force teaching of creationism by pairing it with evolution.

    2. The decision is probably but not necessarily extended to the subordinate level of the school board, since the decision specifically notes, “States and local school boards are generally afforded considerable discretion in operating public schools.” That makes it even less likely an extension could be argued from legislative mandate of creationism, to teacher discretion.

    3. The decision makes a reference to “a flexibility that [teachers] did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life.” That could even be argued to mean that etachers do retain the ability to teach creationism.

    4. The decision’s reference to “statutes … which advance religion” makes crystal-clear that it is the legislature’s law-making power which is under review, not the teacher’s personal curriculum.

    I think this disproves your claim that “teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.” It says that the legislature requiring creationism/fobidding evolution is an impermissible endorsement of religion. It seems to specifically leave the “flexibility” to school boards and teachers.

    That’s why I stand by my assertion that Freshwater’s teaching is not a clear violation of the law and that the school board’s better line of approach (using the very flexibility the decision mentions) should have been to state clear, written guidelines (forbidding any mention of creationism), then record & argue insubordination.

  152. Atheist

    My apologies for the format error. Here’s the correct format for your ease of reading:

    Drew

    “[Edwards] also establishes that teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.”

    I disagree. From the decision itself:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard.html

    The Creationism Act forbids the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in “creation science.”

    States and local school boards are generally afforded considerable discretion in operating public schools. Consequently, the Court has been required often to invalidate statutes which advance religion in public elementary and secondary schools.

    It is equally clear that requiring schools to teach creation science with evolution does not advance academic freedom. The Act does not grant teachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life.

    The Louisiana Creationism Act advances a religious doctrine by requiring either the banishment of the theory of evolution from public school classrooms or the presentation of a religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its entirety. The Act violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it seeks to employ the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose.

    In other words, the decision shows:

    1. The decision overturns the LA Creationism Act, by which the legislature attempted to force teaching of creationism by pairing it with evolution.

    2. The decision is probably but not necessarily extended to the subordinate level of the school board, since the decision specifically notes, “States and local school boards are generally afforded considerable discretion in operating public schools.” That makes it even less likely an extension could be argued from legislative mandate of creationism, to teacher discretion.

    3. The decision makes a reference to “a flexibility that [teachers] did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life.” That could even be argued to mean that etachers do retain the ability to teach creationism.

    4. The decision’s reference to “statutes … which advance religion” makes crystal-clear that it is the legislature’s law-making power which is under review, not the teacher’s personal curriculum.

    I think this disproves your claim that “teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.” It says that the legislature requiring creationism/fobidding evolution is an impermissible endorsement of religion. It seems to specifically leave the “flexibility” to school boards and teachers.

    That’s why I stand by my assertion that Freshwater’s teaching is not a clear violation of the law and that the school board’s better line of approach (using the very flexibility the decision mentions) should have been to state clear, written guidelines, then record & argue insubordination.

  153. Erik

    Atheist- I’m curious as to why you are spending so much time and energy defending Mr. Freshwater. The legality of the firing will, if necessary, be decided in a court of law, not the internet. Regardless of the legality of his activity or the circumstances of his dismissal, the fact remains that he is an incompetent teacher and deserves to be dismissed (although I agree that the dismissal should follow proper protocol). Other than the legal arguments that you have been advancing do you have any defense for a science teacher that teaches creationism? You seem to believe, based on your comments about tolerance, that he should be allowed to teach creationism in his class. Do I understand you correctly?

  154. A theist, arguments not only without a leg to stand on, but completely limbless, threatens to butt each of us to death with his argumentative head, if only we’ll stand close to him and admit we’ve never seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

    To RBH he said:

    You also ignored (and I will therefore repeat it again) my points that:

    1. The board should have not simply rejected Freshwater’s proposal but should have told him explicitly, in writing, that it wanted no mention whatsoever of creationism in the classroom. I have asked more than once now (on this or other boards) for confirmation of whether it did so. The Freshwater-haters won’t respond.

    Speaking of ignorance, er, ignoring, more than once in more than one forum A theist has been answered about why Freshwater has no “right” to a written warning about teaching creationism. First, it’s against the law. Creationism is religious dogma the courts have determined (the Supreme Court agreeing in 1987) — teachers may not teach religious dogma. Second, Freshwater is a licensed teacher. In accepting his license he agrees to be bound by the law. In fact, and his training covered the issues, he has taken on a duty to protect the students’ religious views from his own.

    Freshwater doesn’t get a chance for a written warning when he has a duty to protect the religious rights of students. Doctors don’t get a written warning when they leave their watches inside their patients in surgery — they have a duty not to do it. Lawyers don’t get a written warning if they fail to show up in court for their clients — they have a duty to show up. Teachers don’t get written warnings telling them not to teach religion — they have a duty not to do it.

    Obviously, A theist is making a case that not only must Freshwater be fired, but his license should be yanked because he’s incapable of performing the duties he swore an oath to perform. Good catch, A theist.

    2. Absent such an explicit prohibition, the case against Freshwater for insubordination is weak.

    Then under the principle of res ipsa loquitur, we’re canning his donkey because students were injured — someone or something used an electrical device to burn crosses on their arms in Freshwater’s class. The testimony is that Freshwater did it himself. Either way, he has a duty to be sure students are not injured in his classes. No written warnings. He’s gone.

    By the way, if you were present, are you involved personally at all? If so, haven’t you a conflict of interest posting here without at least disclosure of that involvement or connection?

    For the record, (1) I live far from Ohio (2) I have never, before the past 2 days of comment, been involved in the issue personally beyond attending an occasional, informal, local atheist dinner.

    I think you need to check the spacing on the sign. I don’t think it’s “atheist dinner.” A think it’s “a theist dinner.” Check the sign carefully, because you’re not getting the benefits other than calaries.

    So, let me get this right: A theist now argues that a reporter at an event must recuse herself from filing a report with the newspaper, because being present makes her, somehow, a party to the case, and therefore someone with an interest in it?

    The only question is, is the report accurate. Since A theist provides no reason to believe the report inaccurate, and indeed vouches for the fact that A theist is far away and unfamiliar with the facts, we’ll take RBH’s word over A theist’s.

    Thanks for playing! Inning over.

  155. Sweet

    Erik, have you ever read what Darwin wrote? Eugenics, which by thee way was introduced by Francis Galton, the cousin of Darwin, is pure evolution according to Darwin, not to mention the racism of it all.

    A sample straight from Darwin.

    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world”

    “At the same time the anthropological apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state … even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

    Darwin also praised his cousins work Hereditary
    Genius, a treatise on the biological nature of intelligence and morality, “remarkable”. He praised Herbert Spencer father of “survival of the fittest” as “our greatest philosopher.”

    In 1912, in his presidential address to the First International Congress of Eugenics, a landmark gathering in London of racial biologists from Germany, the United States, and other parts of the world, Major Leonard Darwin, Charles Darwin’s son, trumpeted the spread of eugenics and evolution. As described by Nicholas Wright Gillham in his A Life of Francis Galton, Major Darwin foresaw the day when “eugenics would become not only a grail, a substitute for religion, as Galton had hoped, but a ‘paramount duty’ whose tenets would presumably become enforceable.” The major repeated his father’s admonition that, though the crudest workings of natural selection must be mitigated by “the spirit of civilization”, society must encourage breeding among the best stock and prevent it among the worst “without further delay”.’ This is a quote from anti-creationist liberal protestant writer Peter Quinn.

    The full title of Darwin book originally released in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    No Eugenics or evolution beliefs to be seen here eh? Darwins theories just got twisted by some folks right?

    By the way there is a very strong significant link between the LIBERAL protestant church and Eugenics, in fact in America the first sterilization law was passed in Indiana pushed by a Liberal Protestant minister (whose name I would have to go look up from a book I have called Preaching Eugenics and since I just worked a 12 hour night shift I’m just too lazy to go to it now, but will later) this same minister was a strong supporter of anarchists. The same mainline Protestant churches that have opted to ordain woman, marrying boys to boys and girls to girls while supporting abortion were the same churches who supported Eugenics. Doubt me? Take a look at the apology released by the United Methodist church on April 28, 2008 http://calms.umc.org/2008/Text.aspx?mode=Petition&Number=1175

    I sincerely urge you to go to this link and read it as it will back up everything I am saying.

    Evolution as seen and later implemented by not only Darwin but Galton, Spencer and others leads one right to the holocaust, with true research into it that conclusion is inescapable. And all of this scientific racism did not come from conservative orthodox Christians, it came from the liberal progressive side of the church whose philosophy is Bible optional, and it came from those who deny a God at all. The result was not only the death of 6 million Jews, but millions upon millions of other people. So me? I’m not so keen to embrace a theory, not a fact, but a theory, that has such a history.

    Speaking of history, what Ed history teacher asked about acquittal today, I am at a lost as to what that has to do with anything. I am not discussing today I am discussing the true history of Eugenics and the fact, not theory, that it grew directly from the theory, not fact, of evolution. And just what Clarance Darrow was defending and just what ended up being force fed down the throats of American children. If you go to the link of the Methodist churches apology you’ll note Clarance Darrow.

    I do not believe in Intelligent Design, I believe in God the father, creator of heaven and earth, creator of man in his image. Just what makes one of you defends of evolution believe that God would not build in the ability of his creations to adapt to their environments or changing conditions. Living environments will never be stable, it seems to me to only make sense for that adaptive ability to be something important in the grand scheme of things. That does not mean man with all of the complexes of our bodies grew from some one cell amoeba.

    There will always be some disagreement over this, but to discount the history of evolution and it’s direct connection to eugenics is a grave disservice, particularly to history. GK Chesterton and William Byran Jennings warned that this belief system would lead to things like what the National Socialists perpetrated, but no one listened.

    What a shame. And what a shame that the true history has been buried.

  156. Now, waving it’s head wildly trying to head butt everyone else into submission, A theist’s arguments go beyond Monty Python absurdity:

    4. The decision’s reference to “statutes … which advance religion” makes crystal-clear that it is the legislature’s law-making power which is under review, not the teacher’s personal curriculum.

    I think this disproves your claim that “teaching creationism is an impermissible endorsement of religion.” It says that the legislature requiring creationism/forbidding evolution is an impermissible endorsement of religion. It seems to specifically leave the “flexibility” to school boards and teachers.

    So, you think John Freshwater has more authority as a teacher than a state legislature does?

    You know, before you get some basic education in biology, and in religion, you might want to take a basic civics course. You see, government employees are subject to the oversight of the government. State government employees — a category which includes all teachers in public schools — are subject to the jurisdiction of the state legislature.

    When the Supreme Court tells us that state legislatures may not authorize an action because that action is impermissible under the Constitution, because that action tramples on the religious rights of others, that does NOT mean that state employees may do as they please. It means that the state legislature cannot authorize such illegal actions, and so state employees including teachers are estopped from doing the actions.

    A teacher with more authority over the law than the state legislature or the U.S. Congress . . . heh, what will creationists think of next.

  157. Sweet, your strip quoting of Darwin is despicable. Anyone who has read Darwin, especially that passage you quote, is familiar with Darwin’s conclusions in that chapter: That eugenics practice in humans is immoral.

    Why did you fail to cite that part?

    And, let’s be really clear: In that section you quote, Darwin was not urging eugenics at all. Darwin, writing that the aboriginals in most cases are evolutionarily superior to Europeans in those lands, laments that, “at some future time” Europeans with guns will succeed in subduing aboriginal populations. As Darwin observed the sad results of the Tasmanian “War” — should we call it genocide? — when a population is so completely subdued and oppressed, it frequently stops breeding at replacement levels, and so goes into extinction.

    And, Darwin noted, when those idiots (yahoos, if you prefer) who oppressed the aboriginals succeed, they will then claim that they were somehow superior to the aboriginals, and claim that evolution doesn’t work.

    And here you are, claiming evolution doesn’t work.

    Darwin was akin to a prophet!

  158. Sweet

    Oops that should read William Jennings Bryan. One other thing I would not put the temperance folks in the conservative category as this petition does, unless you also put those Christians who were abolitionists in the conservative category, the supporters of both were often the same. And William Jennings Bryan was never seen as a conservative until he defended the banning of teaching evolution.

    I have spent over 4 years researching this as well as other issues connected to socialism and the liberal protestant church after leaving the Episcopal church after feeling someone had stolen my church from me. What I actually found has been often shocking and not what I thought mainline protestant churches were at all. However that is another subject. A very worthy one, but nonetheless another one for a different time.

  159. Speaking of history, what Ed history teacher asked about acquittal today, I am at a lost as to what that has to do with anything

    It was a joke. There was no Scopes Monkey. It’s a language joke, small, too-dry tribute to George Carlin.

    “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.” (Euripides, Phoenix fragment 970)

    Look out, creationists.

  160. The full title of Darwin book originally released in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    You’re aware that he specifically avoided discussion of human “races,” right? You’re aware that “favored races” in no way refers to humans — right? You’ve read it, right?

    No Eugenics or evolution beliefs to be seen here eh? Darwins theories just got twisted by some folks right?

    Yes, usually by people who didn’t bother to read what Darwin wrote. You seem to have answered my earlier questions.

  161. While looking at resolutions from the Methodists, Sweet, please note that, once again, the Christians have come down on the side of evolution, against creationism/intelligent design:
    http://calms.umc.org/2008/Text.aspx?mode=Petition&Number=839

    Thanks for the cite.

  162. I put up two blogs about John Freshwater with some commentary and pictures I took of him back in 2004 when he’d out each Saturday to protest abortion here in Columbus. Theoconia

    There is also a shorter blog benneath it. I hope to haev some more up soon.

  163. Sweet

    No, Ed I have read Darwin and what you are stating is incorrect. And as far as “christians” supporting evolution, you do understand the difference between sects right? And if you believe the link I cited shores up your belief you obviously did not read the link. It is an apology from the Methodist church, the LIBERAL protestant Methodist church, for it’s support of Eugenics and how Eugenics grew from evolution.

    Don’t tell me I need a history lesson while you spout not history but ideology. Yes, I think everyone with any interest in this subject should read Darwin, all of it, as horrendous as it is to get through it all and I challenge those who do so not to feel a bit sick to their stomach when they grasp the whole picture. People who defend Darwin in my experience, always accuse the other side of taking quotes out of context. Tell me however just what context you would put this in-passages from The Descent of Man.
    1. But some remarks on the action of Natural Selection on civilized nations may be worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr W.R.Greg, and previously by Mr Wallace and Mr Galton. Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the mained, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. (133-4/138-9; first page numbers to the 1st ed., second to the 2nd ed.)

    2. A most important obstacle in civilized countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr Greg and Mr Galton, namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degreded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves, and their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shown by Dr Duncan, they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that are born by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr Greg puts the case: ‘The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sizth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal “struggle for existence”, it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.’ (138/143)

    The interesting part of this quote is that it is cited by someone stating that Darwin didn’t support Eugenics, despite several sympathetic remarks. Apparently he just didn’t like the Irish, but those stout Scots well, their so much smarter that if even they don’t breed enough they will dominate those stupid Irish by virtue of their intellectual superiority.

    Just taking things out of context here. Sorry.

    Sheesh.

  164. Erik

    Sweet, While I commend Ed for pointing you in the right direction regarding the facts of history, they are entirely irrelevant to my argument.

    EVEN IF what you say is true, in fact EVEN IF there are people today committing acts of evil and saying that they are doing so based on their understanding of evolution, this does not make the fact or theory of evolution false or evil. Tools and facts cannot have morality assigned to them, even if they are used for evil purposes. An act can be evil or good, but a fact or theory can only be true or false.

    Like Atheist, your time and effort would be much better spent, assuming that your goal is to improve the condition of the world and not to prop up the mythology to which you subscribe, by understanding and explaining the fact and theory of evolution so that people will NOT misuse it to the ends you seem to (and I do) disapprove of.

  165. Sweet

    Consider this as well. Did Charles Darwin ever repudiate the work of Francis Galton or did he embrace it? Or how about the work of Spencer. Show me where he was writing or shouting loud and clear, NO you’ve got the theories all wrong!

  166. Hi Marley! Welcome to the blog, and thank you for the link.

    I put up two blogs about John Freshwater with some commentary and pictures I took of him back in 2004 when he’d out each Saturday to protest abortion here in Columbus. Theoconia

    It seems to me you’ve got an outstanding resource there for anyone following this Affair. When I get time, I will take a closer look.

  167. Sweet said:

    No, Ed I have read Darwin and what you are stating is incorrect.

    Then quote Darwin. He was always quite opposed to any exercise in eugenics in humans, especially after he saw the results of the Tasmanian genocide, in 1831. And to specifics: When he wondered the effect on the human genome of allowing the halt, lame and criminal to breed, he specifically made these observations: Criminals and the dastardly poor (thieves) were generally kept from breeding by being imprisoned; Darwin thought there was a great deal of nurture to account for raising children, and he saw no reason that even the criminal class could be educated and fed out of it — so he opposed any “eugenics” actions there. As to taking care of the handicapped, as he observes in chapter 5 of Descent of Man — which I doubt you’ve read, and I encourage you to read carefully — Darwin noted that altruism in caring for such people is essential to the human race, and that it provides the survival advantage that allows us to survive and thrive as a species. This is exactly the opposite of a pro-eugenics stand, of course — but you fail to even mention it. I am pretty sure you haven’t read it because there is a statement in that passage that you would remember if you had, where Darwin notes that the morality of “do unto others as we would have others do unto us” is essential to human morality and the survival of our species. Do we need to remind you who is most famous for that line? Or do you reject that kind of ethical stand?

    Read Darwin again, after you’ve taken your anti-crabby pill. Read my response to Tony Campolo (linked above). You are misreading Darwin if you’re claiming he supported eugenics, and I think such misrepresentations of Darwin’s words are unethical — immoral, if you will.

    And as far as “christians” supporting evolution, you do understand the difference between sects right?

    I merely cited the stand on Darwin of the sect you cited. You like ‘em when you think they support your stand, but you don’t like ‘em if they don’t. Do I detect an odd bias here?

    I understand sects very well, thank you. You are aware that most sects have no problem with Darwin, and that anti-Darwin stands are contrary to the official lines of most Americans’ churches, right?

    Just so long as you understand you’ve not got the Christian position, that’s fine with me.

    And if you believe the link I cited shores up your belief you obviously did not read the link. It is an apology from the Methodist church, the LIBERAL protestant Methodist church, for it’s support of Eugenics and how Eugenics grew from evolution.

    I think you misread the piece, or you didn’t think this through. On the one hand, you’re trying to indict Darwin for what you call an anti-Christian stand on eugenics. On the other hand, the evidence you provide doesn’t show Darwin’s support for eugenics, but instead shows Christians supported eugenics. While Darwin’s views are claimed to be the scientific, urban and liberal view, the piece you point to notes that eugenics in America rooted first in the churches, in rural places like Indiana and Iowa.

    In short, your case is contradicted nicely by your evidence.

    You understand, I hope, that Galton was not Darwin, and that Galton at no time spoke for Darwin. Galton was not a biologist, but a statistician. Eugenics took root in many places where people thought the biology a lot simpler that it is. It didn’t root with Darwin. He specifically abhorred it whenever he encountered it, often on moral grounds, but often on grounds that humans can’t substitute judgment for that of natural selection — he didn’t want human selection screwing up our species.

    I hope you also understand that eugenics doesn’t mean genocide. There’s a difference between encouraging the breeding of good stock, and culling the non-preferred stock. I think you’ll have a difficult time linking any advocacy of eugenics to the murders of Nazi Germany, as Ben Stein tried. Encouraging the smart and health to breed — is that such a bad idea? Let’s be clear on what “eugenics” really means: It only works if we get the “good” individuals to breed more. While we generally look at eugenics today as a moral evil, it is often confused with the murderous policies of fascist states in the past, which were not eugenics policies, but were simple genocide instead.

    So I must insist, if you’re going to make the creationist claim that Darwin advocated eugenics, you’re going to have to provide some solid evidence, something well beyond that fact that he was related to Galton by marriage. If you wish to go further and blame Darwin for murder, you’ll have to find some place where Darwin advocated murder — a move you’ll find absolutely impossible, since he advocated the opposite on the basis that we shouldn’t interfere with superior individuals in such a fashion (and yes, he called aboriginals “superior” to Europeans in their native lands, as you should have noted as you read the pieces I cited).

    Don’t tell me I need a history lesson while you spout not history but ideology.

    All I suggested was that history does not support your claim that Darwin was a eugenics supporter and advocate. I’m afraid that, if you see ideology in that statement of fact, it is your ideology that is showing.

    Yes, I think everyone with any interest in this subject should read Darwin, all of it, as horrendous as it is to get through it all and I challenge those who do so not to feel a bit sick to their stomach when they grasp the whole picture.

    Ah, there you go, letting your ideology overpower the facts. If Darwin makes you ill, you’re misreading him. Or, as I suspect, you’re not reading him at all.

    People who defend Darwin in my experience, always accuse the other side of taking quotes out of context.

    It’s very well documented that’s the case. You have a tall mountain to climb if that’s where you’re coming from. People are well informed and ill-disposed to those who misquote Darwin.

    Tell me however just what context you would put this in-passages from The Descent of Man.
    1. But some remarks on the action of Natural Selection on civilized nations may be worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr W.R.Greg, and previously by Mr Wallace and Mr Galton. Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health.

    You did notice, I hope, that he just said that “savages” (by which he meant only people who do not live in civilization) are of good stock and healthy. So much for a charge of racism against Darwin.

    We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. (133-4/138-9; first page numbers to the 1st ed., second to the 2nd ed.)

    And why did you cut the quoting there? You left out the part where Darwin explained this is no problem. You can read the rest of it here — at least the next 8 paragraphs:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/why-study-evolution/darwin-on-the-evolution-of-morality-in-humans/

    You have indeed stripped out the context, and thereby you have misunderstood Darwin’s intentions. Please read him in full. Darwin writes at great length on difficult topics, with many arguments and lines of evidence, some of them sometimes subtle. I think you’ve not given Darwin the chance he deserves.

    Darwin made fast friends with an African man in Glasgow — a trick if there ever was one — and there is no indication of personal racism in Darwni’s life. His letters from the Beagle are filled with hope for the end of slavery in the British empire, a task to which he and the Wedgwoods set their own fortunes. Darwin befriended “Jeremy Button,” the Fuegian who was being returned to his native land on that voyage, and his writings about the friendship and Button’s fate are filled with compassion without regard to station in life. Darwin’s stories about the slaves who rebelled in Brazil demonstrate his high regard for Africans — he compared their wiles and reasoning to the highest Roman generals. Darwin’s rejection of slavery and racism caused the famous row with the ship’s Capt. Robert FitzRoy, a creationist, devout Christian who argued, science be damned, that the Bible was clear that Africans were an inferior race and could be enslaved.

    For Darwin to backtrack on his long life of anti-racist activities and activism would not be in character. I think you owe him a more fair shot at his opinion.

    2. A most important obstacle in civilized countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr Greg and Mr Galton, namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves, and their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shown by Dr Duncan, they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that are born by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr Greg puts the case: ‘The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sizth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal “struggle for existence”, it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.’ (138/143)

    Once again, you pull the creationist trick of takign it out of context. Once again, at that site I noted above, I have the full chapter. You can search the passages, and read the ensuing paragraphs to see what Darwin actually wrote, and why.

    The interesting part of this quote is that it is cited by someone stating that Darwin didn’t support Eugenics, despite several sympathetic remarks. Apparently he just didn’t like the Irish, but those stout Scots well, their so much smarter that if even they don’t breed enough they will dominate those stupid Irish by virtue of their intellectual superiority.

    You really need to read more closely. He’s quoting someone else in that part — just for the reasons you cite, because Darwin found it offensive. If you bother to read on, and you can do that at my blog, you’ll see that he ultimately dismisses these views as irrelevant in the case of humans.

    You don’t cite his arguments about our foolishness in sending our best boys off to war to die, but then most creationists really don’t like to cite Darwin when he strikes so close to their own views.

    I suggest you take Darwin in context, and read him carefully.

    Just taking things out of context here. Sorry.

    You’re jesting, of course, because you don’t think you have taken Darwin out of context.

    Read the whole thing. It’s not as you paint it at all.

    Did Darwin repudiate the work of Galton? Often, in many ways. Much of Galton’s work was carried on after Darwin died. We can’t expect the man to publish from the grave (which would really be ex cathedra since Darwin is interred in a cathedral . . .). Requiring Darwin to shout from the grave is rather bizarre, and simply shows that you’ve misunderstood the sequence of events here, I think.

    Did Darwin ever embrace Galton? You’ve offered nothing to suggest he did.

    Spencer? Darwin disliked Spencer from the start. Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” was coined some years before Darwin’s fame, and for five editions of his big book Darwin avoided the phrase entirely.

    Did Darwin embrace Spencer? Nowhere that I know. Can you offer something other than an oblique reference? Someplace where Darwin shouted loud and clear, “Spencer’s right! Eugenics is the future?” No, of course you can’t.

    So we’ll have to read what Darwin actually wrote, and hold to the history that we actually have.

    And, by the way, you are aware that Darwin’s theories were thought by many scientists to be dead by 1900, yes? Eugenics grew despite Darwin, not because of his ideas. And the most ardent eugenicists burned Darwin’s books. It’s difficult to base a cult on Darwin when they don’t even know what Darwin said because they burned his books.

    If

  168. Ooops.

    Should be, ” . . . he saw no reason that even the criminal class could NOT be educated and fed out of it . . .”

  169. Erik

    Sweet, Darwin was not infallible. He was not a prophet. Scientists do not revere and defer to Darwin the way religious people treat people they label as prophets. Scientists do and always have questioned and improved his theory. Darwin’s word on the subject is not some sort of sanctified unchangeable law.

    Unlike religion, science continually advances, changes, and improves. It does this through the constant challenge and refinement of ideas by many people who have spent extensive time and energy to learn enough to do so. Evolutionary theory has come a long way since Darwin. Unlike religious people who cling to books written long ago and actively resist any effort to update or even re-interpret these books, scientists actively and enthusiastically update the books that they use. Just ask anyone who couldn’t sell his/her used science textbook the next semester because a new edition was published. The only classroom that Darwin’s publications belong in for use in any depth is a history classroom.

    Most importantly, even if Darwin himself actively engaged in evil behavior that he based on his understanding of evolution, this does NOT invalidate or in any way change the reality that evolution is an established fact and a scientifically valid theory. So your obsession with Darwin simply further demonstrates your ignorance of the subject. Your argument, even if it were correct, is entirely irrelevant. Unless you can make a coherent, scientifically valid argument that creation mythology has validity as a scientific theory then it does not belong in science classes and any science teacher that professes it in class should be dismissed as incompetent.

    I don’t think you actually care very much about the evils of eugenics. I think you are just trying to find a way to justify clinging to your bankrupt mythology and eugenics is just a smoke screen that you use to waste the time of people like Ed. If you really cared about stamping out eugenics you would take the time to learn enough about evolution to counter the arguments of the evil people you cite yourself, instead of using their evil to further your own ends. Actually, in some respects I think you are just as bad as they are. You are actively attempting to give credence to their arguments. By giving their arguments credence you make it easier for more evil people to justify acting as they acted, and you help to spread and sustain evil in the world.

  170. Sweet

    Just evil me, helping to spread and sustain evil in the world. Yes, my belief that humans are humans regardless of their color or race based on my belief in God is based on the evil mythology of religion. You do little more than bait, and deliberately misunderstand.

    In case there is anyone else reading this I am going to post what is in the apology from the Methodist Church for their support for Eugenics. A snip—-

    Eugenics, the belief that certain “genetic” traits are good and others bad, is associated in the public mind mostly with the extreme eugenics policies of Adolf Hitler, which ultimately led to the Holocaust. The study of eugenics did not begin with Hitler or his German scientists, but rather was first promoted by Sir Francis Galton, in England. Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, who expanded on Darwin’s theories and applied them to the human population. In an article entitled “Hereditary Character and Talent” (published in two parts in MacMillan’s Magazine, vol. 11, November 1864 and April 1865, pp. 157-166, 318-327), Galton expressed his frustration that no one was breeding a better human:
    “If a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create! We might introduce prophets and high priests of civilization into the world, as surely as we can propagate idiots by mating cretins. Men and women of the present day are, to those we might hope to bring into existence, what the pariah dogs of the streets of an Eastern town are to our own highly-bred varieties.”

    Galton in the same article described Africans and Native Americans in derogatory terms making it clear which racial group he thought was superior. Francis Galton, the founder of the Eugenics Society, spoke hopefully about persuading people with desirable genes to marry and have large families. Galton’s successor at the helm of the Eugenics Society was Major Leonard Darwin (1850-1943), a son of Charles Darwin. Leonard Darwin, who ran the Eugenics Society until 1928, made the transition from positive to negative eugenics, and promoted plans for lowering the birthrate of the unfit.
    Built into the idea of natural selection is a competition between the strong and the weak, between the fit and the unfit. The eugenicists believed that this mechanism was thwarted in the human race by charity, by people and churches who fed the poor and the weak so that they survived, thrived, and reproduced.
    Ironically, as the Eugenics movement came to the United States, the churches, especially the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Episcopalians, embraced it.

    It of course continues. I point to this specifically because it was not the orthodox who embraced eugenics, it was the liberal protestants. The Progressives. This is not my theory, it is admitted in more than a few places. The liberals, or the more correct term of progressives, were not orthodox Christians. Henry Emerson Fosdick would be an obvious example. These were not backward rural folks, I caught that little snide comment Ed, they were the better educated-from Harvard, Princeton, Yale. From the “better” families. The first eugenic law centered from that yawning rural gash of Indianapolis. It is not the sect I dislike Ed, it is their belief that the Bible is an optional part of Christianity and the results that it led to. Liberal protestantism has walked with eugenics, right sided socialism and when that failed, they embraced left sided socialism, including the revolutions and those who have perpetrated murder and torture. Not so far from eugenics. I believe that the idea of breeding better people as if they were domestic animals, and the idea that murderers and those who torture others because they don’t believe the same ideology are what Christians should be embracing.

    Darwin must be one of the most misunderstood men in history, even by his own family, even by his son ,President of the British Eugenics society. “As an agency making for progress, conscious selection must replace the blind forces of natural selection; and men must utilize all the knowledge acquired by studying the process of evolution in the past in order to promote moral and physical progress in the future. The nation which first takes this great work thoroughly in hand will surely not only win in all matters of international competition, but will be given a place of honour in the history of the world.”

    - Leonard Darwin, Presidential address, First International Eugenics Congress, 1912.

    Natural selection just wasn’t fast enough. Leonard Darwin was not some sort of freak in his family either, Eugenics was a family business which included many female members as well. Am I to believe then that Charles Darwin repudiated the idea of eugenics. Even though he had very little relationship with Galton until both were mature scientists, and that Darwin initiated the contact? The letters between them can be found with just a little bit of searching. Did they always agree? No, yet it was not the issue of eugenics that caused a real snit between the two, it was Galtons testing of a theory of Darwin’s which proved Darwin wrong that caused friction between the two. I don’t give two hoots whether you believe I’ve read Darwin or not, I know the reality. The fact that I did not take from it what you did certainly does not show me a liar. Nor have I only read Darwin, I have read a great deal beyond Darwin, to those who support and those who did not. I have read books that date back more than a hundred years, as well as newer books. My conclusions are simply not yours. And since it is perfectly clear that eugenics, both positive and negative, were based on evolution. Galton is clear on this. And since Galton and Darwin were corresponding why did not Darwin simply tell him he was all wet? He did make some statements that indicates he does not completely agree with certain theories, but he does not repudiate the overall ideas. Darwin made a theory, the progressives took it and ran, including those in Darwin’s own family. One can’t help but wonder how it would be that Darwin’s son headed up the Eugenics society if dad was so opposed to what it represented. Or maybe the various members of the family were just rebelling against the old man.

    This past century has been the century of the progressives, and it was perhaps the most bloody century humans have known. The biggest lie of the past century has been that the Nazi’s were not behaving like other progressives. Not Marxists, progressives. 2 very similar, despite differences, socialists. A bit like the Lutherans and Catholics. A spate between branches of the family.

    I do not agree with what this teacher did at all, as far as I am concerned he assaulted a child, and had this been my child I would not have been nearly as nice as the parents involved. This alone is why he should be fired, but very few people focus on what he did to a kid do they? No they focus on his belief system, and the reason he should be fired comes down to their disagreement with that belief system. Read the responses here, some of which are terribly nasty. The idea is that he professes Christianity, combined with the cross shape that was burned means he’s just a crazy Christian, you know, just like the rest of those rabid crazy people who help sustain evil in the world. Witness the above, I spread and sustain evil simply because I do not agree with Erik.

    Apparently I’m a bit undereducated as well.

    Just in case someone might be interested, I would recommend The Freedom of Science in the Modern State. A quick quote from the German author-”Only imagine, then, the shape which the evolution theory assumes at the present day in the brain of the socialist!” (page 19)By Rudolf Ludwig Karl
    Virchow
    Published 1878
    this little 65 page book bears reading, the rest that follows the quote is all but a prediction of what the 20th century would bring. It is at google books here http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=A6wIAAAAIAAJ&dq=the+freedom+of+science&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=HSdnzrK8P-&sig=qcPg6YI7PLSV0Bcsh9UV-lolK1E&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA20,M1

  171. Sweet

    From The Descent of Man

    It has been urged by several writers that as high intellectual powers are
    advantageous to a nation, the old Greeks, who stood some grades higher in
    intellect than any race that has ever existed (26. See the ingenious and
    original argument on this subjec

    t by Mr. Galton, ‘Hereditary Genius,’ pp.
    340-342.), ought, if the power of natural selection were real, to have
    risen still higher in the scale, increased in number, and stocked the whole
    of Europe. Here we have the tacit assumption, so often made with respect
    to corporeal structures, that there is some innate tendency towards
    continued development in mind and body. But development of all kinds
    depends on many concurrent favourable circumstances. Natural selection
    acts only tentatively. Individuals and races may have acquired certain
    indisputable advantages, and yet have perished from failing in other
    characters. The Greeks may have retrograded from a want of coherence
    between the many small states, from the small size of their whole country,
    from the practice of slavery, or from extreme sensuality; for they did not
    succumb until “they were enervated and corrupt to the very core.” (27.
    Mr. Greg, ‘Fraser’s Magazine,’ Sept. 1868, p. 357.) The western nations of
    Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors,
    and stand at the summit of civilisation, owe little or none of their
    superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks, though they owe much
    to the written works of that wonderful people.

    Who can positively say why the Spanish nation, so dominant at one time, has
    been distanced in the race. The awakening of the nations of Europe from
    the dark ages is a still more perplexing problem. At that early period, as
    Mr. Galton has remarked, almost all the men of a gentle nature, those given
    to meditation or culture of the mind, had no refuge except in the bosom of
    a Church which demanded celibacy (28. ‘Hereditary Genius,’ 1870, pp. 357-
    359. The Rev. F.W. Farrar (‘Fraser’s Magazine,’ Aug. 1870, p. 257)
    advances arguments on the other side. Sir C. Lyell had already
    (‘Principles of Geology,’ vol. ii. 1868, p. 489), in a striking passage
    called attention to the evil influence of the Holy Inquisition in having,
    through selection, lowered the general standard of intelligence in
    Europe.); and this could hardly fail to have had a deteriorating influence
    on each successive generation. During this same period the Holy
    Inquisition selected with extreme care the freest and boldest men in order
    to burn or imprison them. In Spain alone some of the best men–those who
    doubted and questioned, and without doubting there can be no progress–were
    eliminated during three centuries at the rate of a thousand a year. The
    evil which the Catholic Church has thus effected is incalculable, though no
    doubt counterbalanced to a certain, perhaps to a large, extent in other
    ways; nevertheless, Europe has progressed at an unparalleled rate.

    The remarkable success of the English as colonists, compared to other
    European nations, has been ascribed to their “daring and persistent
    energy”; a result which is well illustrated by comparing the progress of
    the Canadians of English and French extraction; but who can say how the
    English gained their energy? There is apparently much truth in the belief
    that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character
    of the people, are the results of natural selection; for the more
    energetic, restless, and courageous men from all parts of Europe have
    emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country,
    and have there succeeded best. (29. Mr. Galton, ‘Macmillan’s Magazine,’
    August 1865, p. 325. See also, ‘Nature,’ ‘On Darwinism and National Life,’
    Dec. 1869, p. 184.) Looking to the distant future, I do not think that the
    Rev. Mr. Zincke takes an exaggerated view when he says (30. ‘Last Winter
    in the United States,’ 1868, p. 29.): “All other series of events–as that
    which resulted in the culture of mind in Greece, and that which resulted in
    the empire of Rome–only appear to have purpose and value when viewed in
    connection with, or rather as subsidiary to…the great stream of Anglo-
    Saxon emigration to the west.” Obscure as is the problem of the advance of
    civilisation, we can at least see that a nation which produced during a
    lengthened period the greatest number of highly intellectual, energetic,
    brave, patriotic, and benevolent men, would generally prevail over less
    favoured nations.

    Please note this is a second edition-sounds like he’s praising Galton to me. Certainly isn’t repudiating the theories, but instead is using them as citations.

    This is little more than Racism masquerading as Science. And boy that horrid Catholic church, takes all the cultured men and denies them the ability to bred and then picks out the freest and best of the rest and murders them! And then take a look at those Anglo-Saxons would ya!

  172. Erik

    Sweet, My understanding of your argument is as follows: evolution is linked with eugenics, primarily via your contention that Darwin was favorably disposed toward eugenics and that others who have espoused eugenics used evolution as a justification. You then seem to make the argument that this purported link makes the fact and theory of evolution false, and that it justifies teaching creation mythology in science class. If this summary misunderstands your position, please correct the misunderstanding rather than just saying that I misunderstand, which doesn’t serve to advance the dialog at all.

    The crux of my disagreement with you is in your attempt to use your purported link between evolution and eugenics to discredit evolution, suppress the teaching of evolution, and support teaching creation mythologies in science classes. I have repeatedly posted my argument as to why this is an entirely invalid line of reasoning. To wit: even if the link you seek to establish exists, it would not change the validity of the facts or theory of evolution. Furthermore, since creation mythologies fail to have any scientific validity they have no place in science classes and any science teacher that professes creation myths in science class is incompetent and should be dismissed. If you have a response to this argument, I’d love to hear it. But posting more of the purported links between Darwin, evolution, and eugenics does not do so.

  173. Erik

    PS Sweet: Although I think that his professing creation mythology is sufficient for his dismissal, I agree that burning shapes, regardless of the shape, into kids’ arms is wrong, and for that alone Mr Freshwater should have been fired.

  174. Erik

    PPS Sweet: I have not, in any of my posts until this one, mentioned Christianity specifically. Nor have I suggested that all Christians, or even all religious people, are the cause or sustainment of evil. Nor have I made the argument that non-religious people are never evil. Nor have I made the argument that the mere fact of your religiosity causes you to help sustain evil beliefs.

    I make the argument that mischaracterizing evolution as inevitably leading to eugenics is both wrong and provides an excuse and cover for people to, wrongly, espouse and carry out eugenics. This mischaracterization that you engage in does so because, since evolution is demonstrably correct, if evolution inevitably leads to eugenics then people who espouse eugenics can use this fact to convince people that eugenics is an appropriate policy since it has a source of validity.

    Both of us agree that eugenics has no valid basis. What I am saying is that you are, perhaps inadvertently, attempting to provide it with one. By providing eugenics with a basis of validity you are helping to sustain it. Since eugenics is evil, by helping to sustain it you help to sustain evil.

  175. Atheist

    Erik

    the fact remains that he is an incompetent teacher

    False. Excepting the religious issues, he was said by all to be very competent, engaging the kids in science. It would have been far eaier and more pragmatic for the board to fire him for incompetence were he so. Yet it neither made that claim nor instructed its lackey HR firm to investigate any such charge. Q.E.D.

    You seem to believe, based on your comments about tolerance, that he should be allowed to teach creationism in his class. Do I understand you correctly?

    No, you don’t. You seem to have trouble with the English language. I have recommended tolerance and compromise, but demand no specific coerced solution. Possibilities abound. Have him teach math, earth science, chemistry, physics, but not bio. Or have him take vacation days (with another teacher subbing) on the days evo is to be taught.

    Or change the class format for those days to a debate between Frehswater and a pro-evolution science teacher.

    Or force Freshwater to never mention creationism by formalising school board policies and warnings. That process is meant to give mis-behaving employees time to change.

    Darrell, if you wish to convince others your arguments have merit, you’d do well not to attempt your puerile games of “A theist”. Until you apologise, I shan’t bother with you.

  176. Erik

    Sweet says: “This is little more than Racism masquerading as Science.”

    If you disagree with the racism, attack racism. If you think the science is flawed, attack the science, but do so scientifically.

    If a wolf is masquerading in sheep’s clothing you don’t blame the sheep for the wolf’s behavior.

  177. Oh, Sweet!

    Am I to believe then that Charles Darwin repudiated the idea of eugenics.

    No, don’t put faith in it. Read what he wrote, and quit putting out your thoughts for his. Read the blessed book, will you? Darwin posed a rhetorical question about whether human stock would get frail as a result of altruism — but, I’ve answered this argument of yours three or four posts ago. Darwin did not argue for eugenics, ever. Not ever. You failed to note the argument at all, but blindly go on butchering Darwin quotes as if you have any idea what Darwin and his editors intended. Balderdash. Go back and read it as I wrote it before. Quit ignoring the answers. Darwin said let natural selection work naturally in humans. Darwin said stop genocides. Darwin said aboriginals are superior to “civilized” tribes and should be left alone. Darwin said nature takes care of what he regarded as less-than-top-quality stock among humans, no intervention necessary.

    Even though he had very little relationship with Galton until both were mature scientists, and that Darwin initiated the contact?

    Ah, so now your claim is that if you write a letter to me, you have adopted all of my ideas. Good. Where shall I send you the address? We can get you a full education in Darwin very quickly — just send me a letter.

    More seriously, you make the case here yourself that Galton is not Darwin, and that imputing the views of one to the other is insanity.

    So stop it.

    The letters between them can be found with just a little bit of searching. Did they always agree?

    The immediate issue is whether they agreed on eugenics at all. Your claim is that Darwin repudiated his life-long views of egalitarianism and no-interference in human breeding. You’ve offered no evidence of such a repudiation, but instead have offered a weak guilt-by-association claim with regard to Galton.

    That doesn’t make your case. There is no evidence Darwin shared Galton’s views on eugenics, and as I have noted before, it would be contrary to what Darwin wrote in Voyage of the Beagle all the way through to Descent of Man, not to mention completely contrary to Darwin’s own actions through his entire life.

    You’re making an extraordinary claim, Sweet. You need extraordinary evidence, not just half-quotes from Darwin, not just sections of his writings you have ripped untimely and irrationally from their context.

    No, yet it was not the issue of eugenics that caused a real snit between the two, it was Galtons testing of a theory of Darwin’s which proved Darwin wrong that caused friction between the two. I don’t give two hoots whether you believe I’ve read Darwin or not, I know the reality.

    You’re denying the reality. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve read Darwin — I hope you haven’t. If you haven’t read him, you’re merely deluded. If you’ve read him, you’re a two-faced, dishonest scoundrel.

    That’s your ticket: You’ve never read Darwin at all, but instead have seen only the bawdlerized versions offered by stiff-necked creationists. That’s your story, and you should stick to it, for the sake of honor.

    The fact that I did not take from it what you did certainly does not show me a liar. Nor have I only read Darwin, I have read a great deal beyond Darwin, to those who support and those who did not. I have read books that date back more than a hundred years, as well as newer books. My conclusions are simply not yours.

    But they should be. And since your views are not mine, and your views are incorrect on the history alone, you should repent.

    And since it is perfectly clear that eugenics, both positive and negative, were based on evolution.

    Well, yes, if you ignore the 5,000 years of animal husbandry upon which that part of evolution is based.

    Good heavens! Have you not bothered to read the first two chapters of Origin of Species just because you misinterpreted the title? In those chapters Darwin details the history and state of animal husbandry, noting that it relies on exactly the same mechanisms as evolution, only with artificial selection substituted for natural and sexual selection.

    Now, are you going to go all Ben Stein on us, and make the unevidenced and irrational claim that eugenics also involves murder? You haven’t read Galton, either, have you.

    Galton is clear on this. And since Galton and Darwin were corresponding why did not Darwin simply tell him he was all wet?

    Galton and Darwin corresponded on the science of breeding and selection, and evolution. You’re claiming Darwin adopted Galton’s political views. That’s a different kettle of fish, a horse of a different color, an entirely different species.

    But if you don’t know much about evolution, maybe you don’t recognize the differences in species of arguments, either, eh?

    He did make some statements that indicates he does not completely agree with certain theories, but he does not repudiate the overall ideas.

    Nor does he adopt the eugenics theory. As Darwin wrote to Galton upon the publication of Hereditary Genius, “you have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think [this] is an eminently important difference.” (See Desmond and Moore’s biography of Darwin, p. 572)

    Did you notice that Darwin listed himself an opponent of Galton’s ideas? Do Darwin’s real words count for anything with you , Sweet?

    Darwin made a theory, the progressives took it and ran, including those in Darwin’s own family. One can’t help but wonder how it would be that Darwin’s son headed up the Eugenics society if dad was so opposed to what it represented.

    Oh, yes, it’s quite uncommon for the son to differ from the father on any issue at all, isn’t it? Franklin and his Tory son, Hemingway and his non-hunting, non-drinking sons, the right-wing Joseph Kennedy and his sons . . . Santayana warned about those who don’t know history.

    Do you have a father, Sweet? Do you have a son? Your claim is fatuous.

    Or maybe the various members of the family were just rebelling against the old man.

    If I thought you didn’t offer that in sarcasm, I would hold you redeemable.

    Oooooh: Warning to Readers: Here comes the violence and murder part we knew Sweet was warming up to; here’s where Sweet goes all Ben Stein:

    This past century has been the century of the progressives, and it was perhaps the most bloody century humans have known.

    You cut even your own quotes. Notice that most of the mass murders were not committed by progressives, however, but by totalitarians, by fascists in name and fascists in deed — and not by progressives like Galton, the Roosevelts, Churchill, and others who actually read Darwin.

    The biggest lie of the past century has been that the Nazi’s were not behaving like other progressives. Not Marxists, progressives. 2 very similar, despite differences, socialists. A bit like the Lutherans and Catholics. A spate between branches of the family.

    Again, I refer you to my earlier comments, in which I noted that the Nazis burned Darwin’s books. Ashley Montagu wrote several pieces over the 1950s and 1960s noting how the Nazis repudiated most of real science, but especially evolution. Adolf Hitler believed heritage passed in the blood — as the Bible argues, but not as Darwin argues — and so prohibited the use of blood banks, causing the needless deaths of tens of thousands of German soldiers. There is no evidence Darwin ever crossed Hitler’s mind, except as an example of a degenerate Brit, which is what Hitler called him in essence.

    Nazis didn’t get their ideas from Darwin. They repudiated Darwin’s science, they burned Darwin’s books, they impugned Darwin’s nation and everything it ever produced. Which part of “Hitler didn’t like England or the English” did you fail to pick up on in history class?

    And of course, Stalin was worse. Stalin banished the Darwinists, fired, expelled and imprisoned anyone who he thought might be Darwinist, and murdered a few for good measure.

    Do creationists ever read history?

    I do not agree with what this teacher did at all, as far as I am concerned he assaulted a child, and had this been my child I would not have been nearly as nice as the parents involved. This alone is why he should be fired, but very few people focus on what he did to a kid do they? No they focus on his belief system, and the reason he should be fired comes down to their disagreement with that belief system. Read the responses here, some of which are terribly nasty. The idea is that he professes Christianity, combined with the cross shape that was burned means he’s just a crazy Christian, you know, just like the rest of those rabid crazy people who help sustain evil in the world. Witness the above, I spread and sustain evil simply because I do not agree with Erik.

    I do not think you can find anyone who has argued that Freshwater should be fired for being Christian. Of course, I don’t think his blasphemous work with the Bible was Christian, but that’s beside the point — he has a right to be Christian.

    He has no right to teach religious dogma in place of good science. He has no right to injure students. And if you check the remarks above, more than 150 of them, I’ll wager you don’t find anyone who claims he should be fired for being a Christian. Not one (and I haven’t looked).

    You mistake arrogance and totalitarian theocracy for Christianity. You’re not paying attention.

    But of course, if you really believed that, why do you bother to spend so much time falsely maligning Darwin, impugning the reputation of a great man and one of the greatest ideas of western civilization? Nothing you have written could change anything about Freshwater’s manifest manifold sins.

    And later Sweet said:

    Please note this is a second edition [of Descent of Man] -sounds like he’s praising Galton to me. Certainly isn’t repudiating the theories, but instead is using them as citations.

    You do have the most annoying, creationist habit of butchering the words of Darwin. Why did you stop where you stopped, without continuing to the concluding paragraph? Ah, well, Darwin rather undercuts your argument there — so you couldn’t very well cite that, could you? And thinking that surely no one else would bother to snip any of the 8 or 9 on-line editions of the book, you hoped to get away with impugning the great man by putting ideas to his work that the words of his pen do not support?

    Here is Darwin’s conclusion, which you so uncharitably leave out entirely — starting from the line you last quoted:

    Natural selection follows from the struggle for existence; and this from a rapid rate of increase. It is impossible not to regret bitterly, but whether wisely is another question, the rate at which man tends to increase; for this leads in barbarous tribes to infanticide and many other evils, and in civilised nations to abject poverty, celibacy, and to the late marriages of the prudent. But as man suffers from the same physical evils as the lower animals, he has no right to expect an immunity from the evils consequent on the struggle for existence. Had he not been subjected during primeval times to natural selection, assuredly he would never have attained to his present rank. Since we see in many parts of the world enormous areas of the most fertile land capable of supporting numerous happy homes, but peopled only by a few wandering savages, it might be argued that the struggle for existence had not been sufficiently severe to force man upwards to his highest standard. Judging from all that we know of man and the lower animals, there has always been sufficient variability in their intellectual and moral faculties, for a steady advance through natural selection. No doubt such advance demands many favourable concurrent circumstances; but it may well be doubted whether the most favourable would have sufficed, had not the rate of increase been rapid, and the consequent struggle for existence extremely severe. It even appears from what we see, for instance, in parts of S. America, that a people which may be called civilised, such as the Spanish settlers, is liable to become indolent and to retrograde, when the conditions of life are very easy. With highly civilised nations continued progress depends in a subordinate degree on natural selection; for such nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes. Nevertheless the more intelligent members within the same community will succeed better in the long run than the inferior, and leave a more numerous progeny, and this is a form of natural selection. The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through natural selection as one of the most important elements of the social instincts. (31. I am much indebted to Mr. John Morley for some good criticisms on this subject: see, also Broca, ‘Les Selections,’ ‘Revue d’Anthropologie,’ 1872.)

    Intelligence is shared among all men, education is the key to upward mobility and progress. Which part of that equation do you disagree with, Sweet? No wonder you cut it out.

    And while you’re there, get the full context, will you? The next section of the chapter is titled, alluringly, “ON THE EVIDENCE THAT ALL CIVILISED NATIONS WERE ONCE BARBAROUS.”

    Give it up, Sweet. Darwin was right. Darwin was not evil. Freshwater’s sins that merit his dismissal have nothing to do with a genuine practice of Christianity, nor can his faith cover up for his totalitarian theocratic actions, or his abuse of students with electricity.

  178. Sorry about the formatting garble there, folks. Perhaps Paul could sort it out. I think you can figure out who said what . . .

  179. Erik

    Atheist,

    1) you can’t except the religious issues from the argument when the religious issues have direct bearing on what is being taught.

    2) You probably noted the phrase “do I understand” since you quoted it. I invite you to consider that this is an indication that I admit that I might NOT have understood, and for you to take the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding. No need to resort to insults to do so. I can agree that math, chemistry and physics are probably safe bets for him to teach (assuming he has the qualifications to do so), but possibly not earth science if he is a young earth creationist. Taking vacation days is an idea that might have merit, but evolutionary theory is tied to so much else in biology that it might not be sufficient.

    3) A debate between Mr. Freshwater and a teacher that can explain evolution correctly is a bad idea for several reasons. First, it suggests that creation myths have scientific standing, which they don’t. Second, a debate format would allow emotion in addition to facts to enter the process. The idea isn’t to convince students that evolution is true, but to teach them the facts of evolution. Third, even if you reject my first two reasons, giving special standing to Mr. Freshwater’s particular creation myth does a disservice to all the other creation myths. His creation myth is no more or less valid than any of the others so it would seem, in the interest of tolerance and compromise, that the others would have to be considered equally. This seems like an untenable proposition to me given the shear number of them.

    4) I completely agree that teachers should be prevented from indoctrinating students with religious dogma. I’d like to think that this is, in the interest of tolerance, pretty much understood and common practice but clearly that is not the case. We should work to make it so.

    You seem very hung up on the emotional and legal issues of this particular case. The points I am trying to make are general and transcend this particular case. Rather than cutting and pasting from a prior post, please refer to my post of 6/24 @8:19. I have yet to see anyone address that argument, either positively or negatively.

  180. Ed Darrell:

    Sorry about the formatting garble there, folks. Perhaps Paul could sort it out. I think you can figure out who said what . . .

    I’m on it! :)

  181. Ed Darrell has put up an interesting discussion of the debate in this thread over Darwin and eugenics here.

  182. Sweet

    Actually Ed, you are so completely distressingly wrong that I can only say that it is very, very sad that you can not see.

    You tell me you don’t know of any instance of Darwin admiring Spencer. Well, here it is. Not even hard to find.

    Dear Sir

    I beg permission to thank you sincerely for your very kind present of your Essays.—f2 I have already read several of them with much interest. Your remarks on the general argument of the so-called Development Theory seem to me admirable.f3 I am at present preparing an abstract of a larger work on the changes of species; but I treat the subject simply as a naturalist & not from a general point of view; otherwise, in my opinion, your argument could not have been improved on & might have been quoted by me with great advantage.

    Your article on Music has also interested me much, for I had often thought on the subject & had come to nearly the same conclusion with you, though unable to support the notion in any detail.f4 Furthermore by a curious coincidence Expression has been for years a favourite subject with me for loose speculation, & I most entirely agree with you that all expression has some biological meaning.—f5

    I hope to profit by your criticisms on style,f6 & with my best thanks, I beg leave to remain | Dear Sir | Yours truly obliged | C. Darwin

    linkhttp://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-2373.html#mark-2373.f1

    unfortunately the complete text of the various letters between Spencer and Darwin are not online, though the summaries on this site give at least the general gist and guess what? Darwin praises Spencer. And by the way Spencer makes the same general argument that sympathy is a part of natural selection also.

    And that stopped the process of eugenics how? It didn’t, it did however propel it’s acceptance among socialists, who are professional sympathizers.

    It might interest any reader who is still looking at these pages that the thesis Hereditary Genuis , praised by Darwin and written by Galton his cousin, as above, is an argument that exceptional men came from a small number of Anglo-Saxon families. Natural selection had thus blessed them as it were.

    It is sheer willing blindness to discount the link between Darwin’s theory and Eugenics, all one has to do is read the works of leaders in the Eugenics movement. Spencer is cited, Darwin is cited, Lamarck is cited.

    Charles Darwin died in 1882, eugenics was in full swing by 1869, but Darwin had to shout what was going on as wrong from the grave Ed? Hardly.

    The additional quotes you presented are some of the very same that eugenic proponents used to justify what they wished to do. Some of the stuff they wrote makes for some extremely tedious reading, yet within that reading it is clear where they got their theories, AND THE FACT IS THAT DARWIN DID NOT SPEAK AGAINST IT.

    And people wonder why so many are taking their kids out of school and homeschooling them. Here we have one teacher who is stupid enough to deliberately burn a student, and shout that because he got in trouble for it, his religious beliefs are being stepped on. On the other hand we have a man who identifies himself as a history teacher, who argues that Darwin had nothing, just nothing to do with eugenics or how it came into being. Good research will show that to be wrong.

    Ed, Newton was a great man, a scientist that furthered our knowledge. He also believed he could turn lead into gold, as well as some other theories that we shake our heads at. Darwin’s observation that life changes and modifies based on their condition is adaption, it seems to me that makes only good sense. The rest of it ranks up there with Newton’s alchemy, and the theories that grew based on the Descent of Man, managed to get thousands of people sterilized, not to mention millions dead.

    Hunter’s biology book that Clarance Darrow fought for shows the blend of evolution and eugenics perfectly. And we taught it to our children by order of the court, and implemented it by agents of the government. So much for limited government. And so much for the idea of American independence.

  183. bobhope2112

    Hunter’s biology book that Clarance Darrow fought for shows the blend of evolution and eugenics perfectly. And we taught it to our children by order of the court, and implemented it by agents of the government. So much for limited government. And so much for the idea of American independence.

    Perhaps you can give me a leg up. Where in A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems by George William Hunter, A.M., does it show that?

    You can find the entire 1914 edition, the one that Scopes used, here. Although (or because) I find your claim dubious, I want to see it for myself. A bit later today, I’ll start on the more obvious chapters to discuss Eugenics, but maybe you could be so good as to cite the specific source for your claim above? Unfortunately, the google copy is not text searchable, but maybe this Table of Contents will help you to be more specific:

    Foreword to Teachers (pg. 7)
    I. Some Reasons for the Study of Biology (pg. 15)
    II. The Environment of Plants and Animals (pg. 19)
    III. The Interrelations of Plants and Animals (pg. 28)
    IV. The Functions and Composition of Living Things (pg. 47)
    V. Plant Growth and Nutrition–The Causes of Growth (pg. 58)
    VI. The Organs of Nutrition in Plants–The Soil and Its Relation to Roots (pg. 71)
    VII. Plant Growth and Nutrition–Plants Make Food (pg. 84)
    VIII. Plant Growth and Nutrition–The Circulation and Final Uses of Food by Plants (pg. 97)
    IX. Our Forests, Their Uses and the Necessity of Their Protection (pg. 105)
    X. The Economic Relation of Green Plants to Man (pg. 117)
    XI. Plants without Chlorophyll in their Relation to Man (pg. 130)
    XII. The Relations of Plants to Animals (pg. 159)
    XIII. Single-celled Animals Considered as Organisms (pg. 166)
    XIV. Division of Labor, the Various Forms of Plants and Animals (pg. 173)
    XV. The Economic Importance of Animals (pg. 197)
    XVI. The Introductory Study of Vertebrates (pg. 232)
    XVII. Heredity, Variation, Plant and Animal Breeding (pg. 249)
    XVIII. The Human Machine and its Needs (pg. 266)
    XIX. Foods and Dietaries (pg. 272)
    XX. Digestion and Absorption (pg. 296)
    XXI. The Blood and its Circulation (pg. 313)
    XXII. Respiration and Excretion (pg. 329)
    XXIII. Body Control and Habit Formation (pg. 348)
    XXIV. Man’s Improvement of his Environment (pg. 373)
    XXV. Some Great Names in Biology (pg. 398)
    Appendix A. Suggested Course with Time Allotment and Sequence of Topics for Course Beginning in Fall (pg. 407)
    Appendix B. Suggested Syllabus for Course in Biology Beginning in February and Ending the Next January (pg. 411)
    Appendix C. Hygiene Outline (pg. 415)
    Appendix D. Weights, Measures, and Temperatures (pg. 415)
    Index (pg. 419)

    Thank you for any assistance you might provide in this regard.

  184. bobhope2112

    Ah, spoke to soon. Starting on page 261, there is a discussion of Eugenics that comes off fairly supportive of the practice. It is an important distinction, though, that Darwin detailed [i]natural[/i] selection and Eugenics employs [i]artifical[/i] selection of humans. Are you suggesting that Darwin is somehow culpable for forced artificial selection because he observed the effects of natural selection?

  185. Erik

    sweet: anything for me, or are you going to continue arguing off point and based on false assumptions? Your claims are historical, at best, and have nothing to do with the reality of evolution or how it should be understood or used today. Nor do they have anything to do with the validity of firing Mr. Freshwater, an incompetent science teacher.

  186. Colugo

    “the theories that grew based on the Descent of Man, managed to get thousands of people sterilized, not to mention millions dead.”

    Darwin is not the founder of scientific racism (not to mention theological racism). Scientific racism resulted in eliminationist policy when combined with eugenics. Racial inegalitarianism and eliminationist racism predate Darwin.

    Paul Finkelman, historian at Hamline University School of Law, Ken Burns’ Thomas PBS online archives:

    “[Thomas Jefferson] suggests that blacks mate with orangutans. … He also goes on and on about the inferiority of blacks, that they aren’t as smart as whites, that they don’t have the same skills, that they have no musical skills, no poetry. He says they’re as brave as whites but that’s only because they lack forethought. And he does all this very articulately because he’s perhaps the most articulate man of his generation. So that Americans come to believe in racism by reading Jefferson. And in the 1840′s and 50′s, these Southern racists who are defending slavery are reading Jefferson and quoting him on these issues.”

    Andrew Jackson, 1830, making the case for the Indian Removal Act:

    “Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. … Nor is there anything in this which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, is to be regretted.”

    Shall we repudiate Jefferson and Jackson based on these views?

  187. Rocky

    This whole issue is another example of the far left-wing radical socialist environment in our public schools today. I speak from experience. I am a retired public school teacher and still a member of the OEA and NEA, but disagree with their stands on many issues. The day I found a middle school boy and girl having intercourse in a dark corner of the building and the left-wing principal stated “Now Mr. —- , you know we cannot infringe upon young people’s right to freedom of sexual expression” I began to prepare to leave the public system. Would the board members in Mount Vernon Ohio desire their children to be having open sexual intercourse in the halls of the school where they are throwing out the Bible and a man who has the decency to be trying to teach young people a better way. I trust that God brings judgment upon each of the board members and adminsitration of that school system in a mighty way in the next few weeks to show their community that God is still on the thrown and He will not be trashed as they are attempting to do. If any of those people are so-called Christians they had better repent before they meet God as He will have a special punishment for them for neglecting their Christian duty to speak up. What about the so-called Mount Vernon Christian University in that town? Should it not be gathering support for this man? I pray that God brings judgment upon them as well for their apostasy and lack of character.

    • So, your claim is that a principal illegally defended illegal fornication and what is, under the laws of many states, sexual abuse?

      Gee, I find that difficult to comprehend, let alone believe.

  188. mary

    Rocky,
    So you think it is Ok for a teacher to use a device to put an electrical burn on a student?

  189. Hi Rocky!

    You make some extraordinary claims. Do you have any evidence to back them up?

  190. Andrea

    Rocky,

    You don’t possibly think it might have been just that one principal who decided to handle the matter that way? I think his/her response is much less indicative of his (or her) political leanings than it is of “Oh, I don’t want to get bogged down in some legal mess. It would be too much work. Let’s just let bygones be bygones”.

    That policy of letting “bygones be bygones” is what helped Mr. Freshwater get into this mess in the first place. He was allowed to do things he should not have been for at least 11 years, if not more. The former school board members dismissed it, to their discredit. The current ones are tackling the situation, as difficult as it is, the very thing you complain about your former principal for not doing.

    Did your school not have stated policies on the subject of sex in the school? Should have. If not, I’m sure it would NOT have been difficult to have made a motion to the appropriate body along the lines of “Oh, BTW, school policy states that students are not allowed to have sex on school property, either during or after school. Any students who engage in sexual activity on school property will be subject to [inset punishment here].

    [Attach definitions of sexual activities here]

    Like what school administration or school board is not going to go for that?

    So don’t even try to whitewash this as the evil liberal (or godless) school board persecuting a completely innocent Christian teacher. It is not that simple’

    Assuming John Freshwater is a Christian. Christians, last I heard, were human beings. Human beings, last I heard, can make mistakes, can be wrong.

    It is therefore not out of the realm of possibility that Mr. Freshwater erred, that it was his behavior that caused what is happening to him now, that if he had made different choices, a different result would have occured. Are not we all supposed to take responsibility for our actions?

    Oh, wait, even better one for ya Rocky. What if a wonderful Teacher of the Year, science teacher Mr. Stalebread, a devout Muslim, kept a Koran on his desk at all times, taught his students to be highly critical of evolution as taught in their textbooks and continually refered to the explanation of the origin of the world and life from the Koran as being the correct one, and, to boot, made “marks” on students arms in the shape of crescent moons with an electrical device, whose instructions say to keep it away from skin?

    Rights are rights, Rocky. What you allow John Freshwater, you allow ANY teacher to do in the name of their religion.

    Deal with the real legal ramifications of that before you decide to defend him any further.

  191. Tony

    Eugenics and Darwin/Natural Selection really don’t go together. Please read Origin of the Species before you start rehashing Ben Stein. First of all, natural selection does not focus on the individual organism, it’s about how an organism adapts to it’s environment over successive generations. The environment is a key part, this is were the term “Natural” comes into Natural Selection. The process is unaided, unlike Eugenics, which is basically a selective breeding program which is steered by human intervention. So please don’t mix the two up, they are completely different concepts.

  192. whiskytangofoxtrot

    Update: talked to reps from Ohio. They said that he, of course, never joined the union until he actually wound up in trouble. For years, he got away with his shenanigans, supported by members of the local school board who agreed with his creationist stance and covered by his administration. Once it became an actual criminal problem, the board and admin dropped his ass like a hot potato. In order to avoid having to pay for his own legal defense, he then tried to join the union. They told him they’d be happy to have his membership, but they couldn’t help him with problems he had before joining…

    And, btw, Rocky is full of shit and obviously never taught a day in his damn life. I have NEVER run into a “left-wing” principal. And I have taught for years in California.

  193. One of the wisest things our founding fathers ever did was to recognize the destructive power in religion, specifically the ready willingness of some to do harm to others (from subtle to mortal) who do not share their spiritual opinion. Our founding fathers, painfully aware of the extent of religious diversity in the world (and in their own colonies), with one religion so often at odds with its neighbor and equally as often showing such hatred and violence that the only predictable outcome was misery for all, wisely elected to declare a separation between that which we can handle and that which we clearly cannot (as history to that point had proven). In a stroke, they removed the impediment for banding together, none of us any longer having to resent his neighbor for being forced to take note of a religious opinion not his own. The result was a nation that could safely navigate the perils of governing without the impossibility of satisfying the widely diverse spiritual wants of its constituency. Restated, we were able to advance our country and the democratic concept without the constant drain of internal turmoil.

    This is one of the legacies left to us by our founders, but it is ours only as long as we are wise enough to understand it, understand that the role of a government such as ours should be to protect our earthly rights, not our heavenly fates. Of late we are backsliding, and should this continue, we will be the epitome of the historical adage that “Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

    (From my book, “If You Can Keep It,” p. 27-28)

  194. . . . AND THE FACT IS THAT DARWIN DID NOT SPEAK AGAINST IT.

    I regret the blithe fashion in which you ignore the many places Darwin spoke against eugenics, with particular fury against those who perpetrated the Tasman “war,” and the several other instances I cited.

    The fact remains that, whether his many statements and life-long stance against doing anything other than encouraging good people to have babies (a form of eugenics I’m rather positive even you don’t disavow, Sweet) persuade you and others or not, Darwin also never spoke a word endorsing eugenics with regard to restricting breeding of anyone in any way, nor with regard to restricting the freedoms of anyone in any way, and especially with regard to the infamous forms of genocide you wish to associate with eugenics.

    As to Darwin’s being so polite to Herbert Spencer: Never mistake the genuine manners of a very polite man for endorsement of another’s ideas. Darwin doesn’t endorse Spencer’s cruder ideas at all, and barely mentions one essay favorably. However, Darwin, ever the epitome of politeness, properly thanks Spencer for the gift of a book.

    That’s a far cry from endorsing genocide.

    Darwin praises Spencer. And by the way Spencer makes the same general argument that sympathy is a part of natural selection also.

    The date on that letter is 1858, the year prior to Darwin’s publishing Origin of Species. Clearly this letter makes no reference to eugenics.

    Spencer agreed that sympathy is a natural characteristic of humans? That rather cuts the rug out from under the idea that the letter endorses eugenics, or touches on it in any way.

    Of course, all of Darwin’s discounting of Spencer’s views came later, most well after the publication of Darwin’s big book. Generally historians give sway to later views voiced, assuming they supersede the earlier views.

    And that stopped the process of eugenics how? It didn’t, it did however propel it’s acceptance among socialists, who are professional sympathizers.

    Just as anti-socialists are professional liars.

    All non-sequitur, unevidenced false claims aside, this letter has nothing at all to do with eugenics. It cannot possibly be interpreted to refute Darwin’s later rejection of Spencer’s ideas.

    It might interest any reader who is still looking at these pages that the thesis Hereditary Genuis , praised by Darwin and written by Galton his cousin, as above, is an argument that exceptional men came from a small number of Anglo-Saxon families. Natural selection had thus blessed them as it were.

    How interesting. How irrelevant. This letter refers to different essays.

    It is sheer willing blindness to discount the link between Darwin’s theory and Eugenics, all one has to do is read the works of leaders in the Eugenics movement. Spencer is cited, Darwin is cited, Lamarck is cited.

    And Goebbels claimed that God and Jesus were on his side, even citing the Bible. Scoundrels make all sorts of assertions. That does not make the assertions so.

    Charles Darwin died in 1882, eugenics was in full swing by 1869, but Darwin had to shout what was going on as wrong from the grave Ed? Hardly.

    1869? Balderdash. The term “eugenics” wasn’t invented until 1883, with the publication of Galton’s first book on the topic. That was a year after Darwin’s death, for those counting.

    And people wonder why so many are taking their kids out of school and homeschooling them.

    In a few cases it’s to improve the kid’s education. In way too many cases, it’s ill-informed, unthinking, nominal Christians who misread science, and often misread history, too. David Barton, the great distorter of history, has a new film out, encouraging people to pull their kids out of public schools. Ignorant peasants are easier to hoodwink, and Barton is just looking out for the future sales of his book.

    That leaves it to the rest of us to look out for our schools, our nation, and our Constitution.

  195. The day I found a middle school boy and girl having intercourse in a dark corner of the building and the left-wing principal stated “Now Mr. —- , you know we cannot infringe upon young people’s right to freedom of sexual expression” I began to prepare to leave the public system.

    And John Freshwater’s assaults on students and assaults on students’ religious rights does absolutely zero to stop that couple copulating in the halls.

    It might aid their continuing to do so, however, by forcing administrators to deal with other issues first.

    Whose side do you claim Freshwater is on?

  196. Mike G

    This issue definately isn’t regarding his ability to teach because Freshwater’s class is the only eighth grade science class at MVMS to pass the Ohio Achievement Test (OAT) and the same school district that claims they have been having trouble with him for years gave him a distinguished teaching award last year (2007).

  197. I’d love to see a citation on those claims, Mike G — got anything to back ‘em up?

  198. Brit

    As a person who lives in Mt. Vernon I am disgusted by John Freshwater and his complete lack of respect and concern for his students and people of other religions. This isn’t an issue about his beliefs. It is more of an issue about what he is contracted to teach and his complete disrespect for other people and now he is lying and saying he didn’t burn crosses on children now which is a reverse from what he said before. He says it was and “x” as if this matters. Burning is wrong and he is a religious bigot who doesn’t care for other people who are also worshipping God in their own religion. He is teaching bigotry, division and intolerance and it amazes me that people who have the nerve to call themselves Christian actually defend him burning kids. He is sick and so are a good many people who support his version of Christian behavior.

  199. Anon

    Evangelist, you are either woefully underinformed or willfully ignorant. Read about the establishment clause and start talking about seperation of church and state as a legal principle instead of a proper noun.

  200. Paige

    I am a student at mount vernon high school and what people dont realize is that this town is very much seperated by religion. Especially the school system. This whole freshwater problem has caused huge problems in the school, and has even created arguments and fights within the school. Freshwater should be fired, there’s no doubt about that, but the whole school system is so heavily influenced by religion and the nazarene church that its difficult for someone to say that he should be fired without your morals being attacked. This whole school system needs to be reformed. Seperation of church and state is not taken seriously and that is why he was able to get off as long as he did.

  201. MikeMa

    Paige,
    Kudos to you speaking up. I hope you graduate with the same determination to see and recognize truth regardless of consequences. The world outside Mt Vernon has it’s share of injustice too. Make a difference if you can.

    Sounds like school privatization could really help Mt Vernon. Get rid of all the religious bigots and start teaching again without bibles and prayer.

  202. Freshwater’s lies make baby jesus cry.

  203. This mindless god-sucker is lucky he never tried to do that to any of the kids in my family. My father would have kicked down the door to his classroom and he would still be sitting there, dead, with his little toy stuck in his sizzling ear. I don’t want to think what my mother would have done to him.

  204. Pingback: Stale swamp tricks from John Freshwater | Atheist Age

  205. Charles

    This is obviously a heated issue with many comments and opinions. Regarding the separation of church and state – reading the comments of Thomas Jefferson leads me to the conculsion that this separation is intended not only for the government NOT to iterfere with religion, but the thought that religion should be a positive influence in government. Where else are our leaders going to get a sense of “morality?” A quote from Thomas Jefferson…”Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State,” (letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802)

  206. Quoth Charles: “Where else are our leaders going to get a sense of ‘morality?’”

    The notion that morality comes from religion — and especially from Christianity — is an interesting one, isn’t it? But can an educated person believe it?

    Now, by educated, I don’t necessarily mean someone who has a formal education — although that might be the case — but I mean anyone who has seen a bit of the world. For instance, a well traveled person. So, can an educated person really believe that morality comes from religion — that our political leaders must have religion to have morality?

  207. Charles

    Hello Paul,
    I believe it’s not about whether a so-called educated person believes morality comes from religion or not. Does an educated person, or any peron for that matter, need to believe that gravity exists in order for it to be so? It’s not about having religion…it’s about the sense of morality and integrity and character that are defining traits and are developed over time. I’d like to know where this would come from if it wasn’t coming from religious teachings. Where is this teaching coming from if it’s not based in religion? It’s very much about – What are you going to do when no one is watching? We need a basis from which to draw. It’s very obvious to me, that the world economic crises is based on being a moral crisis. I invite you to think about it…

  208. Hi Charles. I’ve written about this question of where morality comes from at least once before.

  209. A moral compass is often traced to a religious source but there is no requirement for that to be so. There is no proof whatever that atheists are amoral, and in many cases an atheist’s lack of dogmatic religious training allows him (or her) to be far more accepting of others in spite of differences due to religious upbringing.

    As for the world economic mess being in any way a moral issue, I see no direct link. Office holders are predominantly a religious bunch because to get elected as an atheist is quite difficult. Those religiously trained folks make and enforce the rules and if their greed and corruption has resulted in a mess, I blame the baser nature all humans seem to share. Having a religious upbringing seems to have little or no effect on the outcome.

  210. SamC

    Like Paige a few posts above, I’m a student at Mount Vernon High School, and frankly, she’s completely right. While we’re on the subject of learning, might I say that for days after Freshwater became an issue, classes were disrupted by endless discussions of whether or not he should have been fired. I had a some rather torturous arguments with several of my closest friends that produced an enormous amount of undue stress. The impetus to take a side was enormous.

    The most distressing thing was that, for the longest time, very few of the students knew what he had actually been fired for, and very few people cared that their information might have been wrong.

  211. Thanks for the information, Sam!

  212. zeusiswatching

    The guy needed to be fired. If he wants to help found and teach at a private school that does welcome his course materials he should seek such work, even help to establish such a school and course curriculum. At the public school one is paid to teach a certain course of studies and he was shockingly insubordinate. End of discussion.

  213. Pingback: Ohio news: No creationist right to burn crosses on junior high science students « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

  214. Freshwater finally settled the case the kid brought against him:
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2010/11/freshwater-cour.html

    Still coming: May the board fire Freshwater for doing that?

  215. Jim King

    Good riddance About time teachers learn they can not use a classroom as a podium for their religion or their politics. It happens every day, both right and left taking advantage of their positions.. I wish every stupid one would be fired. The nerve to think their classroom can be used to indoctrinate with their non factual garbage be it religion or politics!!

  216. Vicki Fitzgerald

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t ended yet. The referee in the Employment hearing found in favor of the School Board for it’s firing of Freshwater. He has now appealed this decision. Right now the School Board is asking that the appeal case be moved to the federal court.

  217. Do you mind if I quote a small number of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources returning
    to your site: http://cafephilos.wordpress.
    com/2008/06/20/the-firing-of-john-freshwater/.
    I am going to aslo be sure to give you the proper anchor-text link using your blog title: The Firing of John Freshwater
    | Café Philos: an internet café. Please be sure to let me know if this is ok with you.
    Thanks alot :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s