You all might remember a few months ago, a fellow named ‘John Freshwater’ was in the news. According to World Net Daily and Freshwaters own students, Freshwater was asked by school administrators to remove a personal Bible from his desk.

Students protested in defense of their teacher by putting bibles on their own desks.

Good for them!

Of course students have the right to put a Bible on their desk! Just like they have the right to put ‘The Three Musketeers’ or ‘The Satanic Verses’ or ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Poo’ on their desk.

How strange their school administration would be so huffy about something so silly!

… But then strange rumors started seeping from the woodwork. Freshwater was branding students with crosses. He was preaching in his ‘science’ class. He spoke in ‘code words’ when he was talking about science he, personally, didnt like.

Those rumors have just been substantiated in a suit against him and the school district. It was never about ‘the Bible’. It was never about ‘free speech.’ It was about an insane teacher abusing his position of authority over and over and over, with no repercussions from his administration.

This is one part I loved:

White also, according to the court documents, disclosed the identity of the plaintiffs to Freshwater, although Short had promised them anonymity. After the parents raised concerns of retaliation against their son, a field trip was scheduled, with their son assigned to a certain group and chaperone. The suit claims that once the child’s identity was revealed, his group assignment was changed to the one led by Freshwater. As a result, the parents “were forced to prohibit their son from attending the school field trip.” That caused injury by depriving the son of a valuable educational experience and discouraging the plaintiffs from continuing to exercise their right to free speech.

So allegedly, the school principle told Freshwater which student was filing suit against him, and Freshwater arranged to be in a position of authority over said student so he could harass him, on a field trip. Luckily the student found out about this convenient switch before the trip, and could stay home.

*blink*

What was Freshwater planning on doing to this child?

Starting a physical altercation? Mentally and spiritually abusing him further?

What was Freshwater planing on doing to this child on that field trip??

*sigh* Never mind, I dont want to know.

Look, I went to school in a small town in Missouri. Do you know the religion of my science teachers? I dont! To this day. I assume they are some sort of Christian, just because most people in my part of the country are, but they could have been Jewish or Muslim or Pagan, for all I know.

They never preached in my classes.

My science teachers didnt. My government teachers didnt. My math teachers didnt! My music teachers didnt!! They were too busy teaching!!!

*sigh* Theres no force on this plant quite like the arrogance of an Evangelical.

Comments

  1. #1 Sili
    June 17, 2008

    Mark 10:24 – “Make the little children suffer”

    What?

    That’s not it?

    Oh …

    Nevermind then …

  2. #2 Sili
    June 17, 2008

    *10:14

    Damn my fat fingers.

  3. #3 Stacy S.
    June 17, 2008

    What an A-hole! That just pisses me off.

  4. #4 PhysioProf
    June 17, 2008

    Theocratic motherfuckers like that wackaloon sick-fuck teacher and the shitbag enabler principal make me fucking sick. Why can’t these creepy scumbags leave normal people alone?

  5. #5 JanieBelle
    June 17, 2008

    I think PhysioProf just about covered all my bases.

    Well, except for the lasers and testicles thing.

  6. #6 The Chemist
    June 17, 2008

    All of the branding and other extreme wack-a-loonery aside, I don’t think there was anything wrong with placing a bible on his desk. It’s just another odd and end, like porcelain cats, or family portraits. So long as it isn’t propped up in an ostentatious way for the benefit of the students who cares?

    Now obviously this guy crossed the line, but if one of my professors pulled a bible out of their bag and set it on the podium for their own inspirational benefit, I wouldn’t care. It’s not any worse than pawing at a lucky rabbit’s foot (unless you think that’s cruel).

  7. #7 paul
    June 17, 2008

    I’ve been following this story on Ed Brayton’s blog, and up until now I’ve just been thinking this guy’s a nut who needs to be fired. But hearing this update is pretty horrible. If I had a kid, and this specific incident happened to that kid, right now I’d be weighing the cost-benefit analysis of seeing him on the ground spitting up blood, and “beating the shit out of him” would be winning over “just let it go.” I may need to take anger management courses if I ever intend to adopt.

    As for the man’s Bible itself, I’m against it simply because I know that’s not the full extent of his evangelism. In normal circumstances, I just know that I personally wouldn’t, as a teacher, have it on display. I’m going to be TAing my first lab next semester. Now, I’m a pretty vocal atheist and liberal, and just being a conscientious person, I know that I’m gonna have to make sure that I don’t allow too much of that to seep into how the students see me, at least while I’m teaching, even though I’m only a TA. I wouldn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, or think that they have to act a certain way to get me to like them or somesuch. It just has no place when you’re doing a job like that.

  8. #8 sbh
    June 18, 2008

    I once had a teacher who forbid me from having a copy of Fletcher Pratt’s Secret and Urgent on my desk for whatever reason–I think because it was my personal book rather than a school text or something. That’s the only time I can remember me being told to remove a book from my desk, but many times other students were told that they couldn’t have anything from comic books to encyclopedia volumes on their desk, the excuse being that they were distractions from the business at hand–learning whatever subject that was supposedly being taught. Seems to me that the same standards should apply to things the teacher has chosen to display on his or her desk–is it a distraction from the task at hand?

    Of course this bible-on-the-desk thing was only a distraction from the real issue–what the hell was this teacher doing in his classes? Remember that he not only displayed a bible on his desk, he also hung religious posters in his classroom, posted the ten commandments (an overtly religious document) prominently at the door to the room, and preached his religion when he should have been teaching the subject. In that context I’m not in the least surprised that he was told to remove the bible from his desk–and high time too.

  9. #9 Eric Saveau
    June 18, 2008

    You know, it’s fair to say that it IS about the Bible, at least insofar as the Bible can be used to justify tyranny, authoritarianism, and ego-driven power trips. And then, as you point out, to distract from the substance of the complaints against the perpetrator. It’s about the use of the Bible as a weapon against our children, wielded by narcissistic sociopaths occupying positions of public trust.

  10. #10 Gingerbaker
    June 18, 2008

    It’s a public school. Exactly what business has a Bible and only a Bible doing on his desk during science class?

  11. #11 The Backpacker
    June 18, 2008

    What ever happend to the good kind of crazy science teachers you know the one’s that would burn a gram of Magnizeum Powder to show just how dangerous the stuff can be. Or the one that taught us how to really torment trick or treaters, it involved flour and a candle in a Jack o Lantern.

  12. #12 Eyemagistus
    June 18, 2008

    I had a math teacher in the 8th grade who said God was a mathematician. I still can’t disagree with that and I don’t think it came from the Bible.

  13. #13 Joshua Zelinsky
    June 18, 2008

    Eyemagistus, story related to that: when I was young (in 8th grade or so) and taking a class on Jewish history taught by an Orthodox rabbis obsessed with calendars (Although his interest was primarily into the Jewish calendar and how it used a combined solar-lunar year, he also for example pointed us to an article about social consequences of the Islamic calendar floating). Anyways, he asked at one point some question about why we needed a certain class of leap years in the Jewish calendar and I wasn’t completely sure and so I bsed something half-right and then said “the real issue is that like for all these calendrical problems: God didn’t make a universe that operates off of integers”. The rabbi thought this was such a good point that he made me spend the next 5 minutes or so explaining to the other members of the class how there’s no a priori reason that different astronomical times should neatly divide each other.

    So I guess the point might be God if he is a mathematician doesn’t agree with Leopold Kronecker.

  14. #14 Felstatsu
    June 19, 2008

    Wow, somehow I missed seeing this stuff before. Nothing gets my blood up like someone harming a kid. Add to that preaching in a science classroom and I have half a mind to disregard my non-violence oath. Continuing on, he’s still working events in ways to try and give himself power over the kid again, likely for more abuse in the hope the kid will keep quiet afterwards, and I’m pretty sure my oath would be left at the door if I had some time alone in a room with him.

    He seems to have a fair number of students supporting him, but not any of them I’ve seen in various posts are acting very rationally in defending him. Just look at Amber over on the Pharyngula link, comment #136. I’d expect this level of behavior from someone in a cult that brainwashes their members, not from someone who has a good teacher that hasn’t done anything wrong. Wonder if anyone else noticed the teacher seems to have his own cult set up in the school.

  15. #15 JanieBelle
    June 19, 2008

    Felstatsu,

    I’d expect this level of behavior from someone in a cult that brainwashes their members…

    Yes, well there’s a reason for that.

  16. #16 Felstatsu
    June 20, 2008

    JanieBelle,

    Yeah, I know about the whole Christian cult thing, and how one of the things that keeps people coming back is a series of techniques commonly used to distort someone’s worldview (IE brainwash). I suppose I should’ve clarified it a little better. Should probably say “a cult that brainwashes their members into fanatics.”

  17. #17 Benjamin Franklin
    June 20, 2008

    A bible on his desk? OK

    Copies of Kent Hovind videos in the classroom? No way

  18. #18 Paul Lundgren
    June 20, 2008

    @Gingerbaker:

    If I was a science teacher, I’d at least have a Bible in my desk to use as a counter-argument for any inane parents during P-T conferences. Like, say, challenging some IDiot to find the word “antibiotics” in the KJV. Or reading someone the full quote instead of the quote-mined version of whatever nonsense they’re spouting. It’s all in how you use it. And this clown was using it for fanaticism.

  19. #19 John Kwok
    June 21, 2008

    Hi everyone,

    My friend Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Coalition for Science and her fellow citizens in the state of Louisiana need our help in supporting quality science education there. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has stated recently on television (last Sunday’s “Face the Nation”) that he supports the LA Science Education Act (SB 733) which would destroy Louisiana’s efforts to ensure quality science education for its students.

    This bill is one of the reasons why Brown biology professor Ken Miller wrote “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul” and why I wrote the extensive, persuasive review praising it at Amazon.com (It is also why he appeared on the Colbert Report last Monday.):

    http://www.amazon.com/Only-Theory-Evolution-Battle-Americas/dp/067001883X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214054479&sr=8-1

    Regards,

    John Kwok

    Reprinted from a Center for Inquiry announcement:

    Help the Louisiana Coalition for Science Defeat Anti-Science Bill; Protect the Integrity of Science Education

    Implore Governor Jindal to veto bill SB 733, LA Science Education Act

    The Louisiana Senate has passed SB 733, a bill that creationists can use to force their sectarian views into public school science classes. The bill provides that, upon the request of a local school board, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) must permit appropriate supplementary instructional materials in science classes, but gives no guidance about the criteria BESE should use in approving such supplementary materials. Effectively, the legislation provides a means for creationists to promote their pseudo-scientific views in the classroom. The LA Coalition for Science (LCFS), a group of concerned parents, teachers and scientists, has called on Gov. Jindal to veto the bill through an open letter on its website at http://lasciencecoalition.org.

    “This bill doesn’t help teachers. It allows local school boards to open the doors of public school science classrooms to creationism with the blessing of the state,” explains LCFS member Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. “Governor Jindal surely knows that evolution is not controversial in the mainstream scientific community. He majored in biology at Brown University, and he belongs to a church that considers evolution to be established science and approves of its being taught in its own parochial schools. The LA Family Forum is pushing this bill over the objections of scientists and teachers across the state. The governor has a moral responsibility to Louisiana children to veto this bill.”

    Paul Kurtz, CFI’s Chair, has stated that “SB 733 poses a serious threat to science education and represents yet another attempt by creationists to insinuate their religious doctrine into the classroom under the guise of promoting critical reasoning.”

    We have reached the point at which the only possible measure we have left is to raise an outcry from around the country that Gov. Jindal has to hear. What is happening in Louisiana has national implications, much to the delight of proponents of “intelligent design.”

    Please contact everyone you know and ask them to contact the governor’s office and ask him to veto the bill. Louisiana will be only the beginning. Your state could be next.

    Here are the talking points:

    Point 1: The Louisiana law, SB 733, the LA Science Education Act, has national implications. So far, this legislation has failed in every other state where it was proposed, except in Michigan, where it remains in committee. By passing SB 733, Louisiana has set a dangerous precedent that will benefit the Discovery Institute and other creationists by helping them to advance their strategy to get intelligent design creationism into public schools. Louisiana is only the beginning. Other states will now be encouraged to pass such legislation, and the Discovery Institute has already said that they will continue their push to get such legislation passed.

    Point 2: Gov. Jindal’s failure to oppose the teaching of ID clearly helped to get this bill passed in the first place. His decision to veto it will stick if he lets the legislature know that he wants it to stick.

    Point 3: Simply allowing the bill to become law without his signature, which is one of the governor’s options, does not absolve him of the responsibility for protecting the public school science classes of Louisiana. He must veto the bill to show that he is serious about improving Louisiana by improving education. Anything less than a veto means that the governor is giving a green light to creationists to undermine the education of Louisiana children.

    TAKE ACTION NOW! TELL GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO VETO SB 733

    Contact Information:

    E-mail: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor

    Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free)

    Fax: 225-342-7099

  20. #20 Thomas Ho
    June 21, 2008

    PhysioProf certainly is “eloquent” so I wonder what HE teaches in HIS classes?

  21. #21 Eric Saveau
    June 21, 2008

    PhysioProf certainly is “eloquent” so I wonder what HE teaches in HIS classes?

    Going by his nickname, I’d guess physiology.

    And yes, he certainly is eloquent. Sometimes he eloquently voices an appropriate measure of anger at, as he so eloquently put it, “creepy scumbags.”

  22. #22 Creyente
    July 4, 2008

    Interesting information about Geo. Washington, whose home town gave Vernon its name. Comes from a Christian writer:

    Vernon. The battle unfolding there should interest every American. The city was named after George Washington�s home and is nicknamed �Think of that for just a moment � a city with historic ties to George Washington just might declare it is illegal to have a Bible on the corner of a teacher�s desk. How does this mesh with history? It doesn�t. The McGuffey readers used for generations in �s public schools were filled with Bible references and Bible stories. The school day began with prayer. George Washington wrote eloquently about the role of religion in our form of government. In his famous farewell address he stated the following, �Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.. And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.� If the School Board of Vernon, Ohio bans the Bible from even the corner of a teacher�s desk � it would seem they were defying the wisdom of their namesake.

  23. #23 Jay
    July 8, 2008

    I don’t get this. Why are people up in arms about him preaching in the classroom when he BURNED CROSSES INTO KID’S ARMS?

    I mean, seriously. With this thing: http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/05/11/Zapper.ART_ART_05-11-08_B1_4JA5TI2.html?sid=101
    This is no Van de Graff generator.

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