Dispatches from the Creation Wars

This was quite predictable, mostly because it is what always happens in such situations. Remember the situation in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where a teacher named John Freshwater is being investigated for a whole range of church/state violations? It’s divided up the whole school and any kid who is viewed as not sufficiently enthusiastic in support of Freshwater is being harassed and bullied.

Beth Murdoch, whose daughter attends the middle school, is one of the parents who has expressed concerns about the sometimes hostile environment at the middle school.

“You’re either for Mr. Freshwater or you’re against Mr. Freshwater. There’s no in between,” Murdoch said. “In the kids’ minds, I think, it is just the Bible issue. And who is going to go against the Bible? Nobody. But it seems like the ‘Christians’ are using that as an excuse to gang up on the ‘atheists.’

Some of the details are frightening:

“My daughter Arie told me about a Jewish child who brought his Torah to school when other students brought Bibles in support of Freshwater,” she continued. “He thought he was supporting freedom of religious expression, and the other kids just ripped him apart. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked. ‘You can’t support Mr. Freshwater, you’re Jewish.’ So they don’t get it.

“I don’t think people realize the depth of what’s going on between the students. It’s a mob mentality right now. It’s peer pressure. To not wear a T-shirt and to not bring your Bible when they say bring your Bible and wear a T-shirt, you’re asking for trouble.”

Murdoch said one of Arie’s friends wore a T-shirt to school that read, “I don’t need to wear a special T-shirt to be a Christian.” That individual was reportedly pushed into the lockers and called a “stupid atheist b****.” That is not acceptable in Murdoch’s mind.

This is from a parent of a student. Here’s another parent’s report:

Christine Hamilton has two sons in the middle school.

“They have gotten harassed,” she said, “because they are friends with the boy [whose parents filed the complaint against Freshwater]. In our country, everyone’s allowed their religious opinion, but some of the middle school kids are just jumping on a bandwagon. If you’re not for Mr. Freshwater, you are going to be harassed. That is flat out what is happening in the middle school. Therefore, I think a lot of kids are for Mr. Freshwater because they don’t want to be harassed, they don’t want to be singled out. And who wants to be against the Bible? Nobody.

“This whole thing has divided the community,” Hamilton added. “I think a lot of kids who don’t blindly support Freshwater have decided, ‘Boy, friends that we thought we had, are not friends.’ It’s even coming out on the soccer field. … This is the United States of America. You’re supposed to accept everybody for who they are, and none of this is supposed to matter. That is very frustrating to me. As a Christian, you shouldn’t judge anybody. … We all believe in different things. I personally might not agree with the way you believe or the way you practice, but we can still be friends.”

This is one of the main reasons why church and state are separate, because when they come together it causes enormous strife and divides communities and turns them against one another.