Creationist teacher Freshwater’s appeal moves to Federal Court

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John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon Ohio teacher who was fired for proselytizing in his 8th grade science class has appealed his termination and it was announced today his appeal will be moving to Federal Court.

The board filed notice with U.S. District Court in Columbus on Tuesday to move the case to the federal court system because Freshwater’s appeal involves an allegation that his constitutional right to express a religious opinion was violated.

Freshwater was accused of preaching Christian beliefs in class and of using a scientific device to mark students’ arms with a cross. The hearing officer said there was a plausible explanation for that but didn’t explain further.

Fired Mount Vernon teacher’s appeal moved to federal court

Of course he should have been fired for burning things in a student’s arm. Now he can cry to a federal judge that his rights were violated because he was proselytizing in his public school class room.

This saga just doesn’t seem like it will end.

Fred Phelps can be a douche at funerals

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This week the US Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church can picket military funerals. Fred Phelps, leader of the church, and his merry band picket funerals in order to advance their sick anti-gay religious agenda. Even though their brand of picketing is tasteless and offensive, the Supreme Court was right to rule in their favor.

For the past 20 years, the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church has picketed military funerals to communicate its belief that Godhates the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, particu-larly in America’s military. The church’s picketing has also con-demned the Catholic Church for scandals involving its clergy. Fred Phelps, who founded the church, and six Westboro Baptist parishion-ers (all relatives of Phelps) traveled to Maryland to picket the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq inthe line of duty. The picketing took place on public land approxi-mately 1,000 feet from the church where the funeral was held, in ac-cordance with guidance from local law enforcement officers. The picketers peacefully displayed their signs—stating, e.g., “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Fags Doom Nations,” “America is Doomed,” “Priests Rape Boys,” and “You’re Going to Hell”—for about 30 min-utes before the funeral began. Matthew Snyder’s father (Snyder), pe-titioner here, saw the tops of the picketers’ signs when driving to the funeral, but did not learn what was written on the signs until watch-ing a news broadcast later that night.

(d) Westboro addressed matters of public import on public prop-erty, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of lo-cal officials. It did not disrupt Mathew Snyder’s funeral, and itschoice to picket at that time and place did not alter the nature of itsspeech. Because this Nation has chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that public debate is not stifled, Westboro must be shielded from tort liability for its picketing in this case. Pp. 14–15.
580 F. 3d 206, affirmed.

SNYDER v. PHELPS

As long as Phelps follows the normal process for picketing – like staying on public property – then even his offensive speech can’t be censored.

As Blair Scott at American Atheist wrote:

It is easy to get caught up in the emotion and want to deny the Westboro Baptist Church any opportunity to speak their mind and enjoy their Constitutional rights. It is even easier to get swept away in the emotion of a military funeral and want to deny their constitutional rights just this one time or in this one instance. Constitutional Rights do not work like that. What judge or government entity gets to choose when and where your constitutional rights get to be overridden and denied? What does your local atheist group do when you are denied a permit because it might offend someone?

SCOTUS Rules Phelps and WBC Can Protest Funerals

As much as it pains me to say, I agree with the court.

Minnesota lawmaker trusts God to protect us from climate change

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Minnesota State Rep. Mike Beard is a cheap labor conservative and pro-business who denies climate change is a problem so he wants to lift the moratorium on coal-fired power plants in Minnesota. Of course he doesn’t as most cheap labor conservatives don’t think climate change is a problem. But then he had to base his views on his religion.

A lot of what Beard knows he learned in church. One Congressman, talking about global warming, recently said that God wouldn’t allow man to do anything to destroy the planet. Beard told me, “It is the height of hubris to think we could.” I asked him about nuclear war. He said: “How did Hiroshima and Nagasaki work out? We destroyed that, but here we are, 60 years later and they are tremendously effective and livable cities. Yes, it was pretty horrible,” he said, “But, can we recover? Of course we can.”

It’s like the old farm back in Pennsylvania.

‘We are not going to run out’
Beard believes that “God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable. We are not going to run out of anything.”

The International Energy Agency’s most recent analysis said world oil production peaked in 2006 and petroleum reserves are now in decline. We might not be running out. We are, it seems, running low. Beard continued, “God gave us our minds, creativity and ingenuity, and that is our most valuable natural resource.” I agreed with him. I don’t think we’ve peaked on those resources, yet.

Picking science that fits politics: Rep. Mike Beard on climate change

That’s right. Beard thinks God will not let us run out of resources or let us destroy the planet.

Imagine his face when our world ends due to a climate catastrophe. The warning signs ARE going off.

Creationist Teacher John Freshwater officially fired by school board

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Finally it is over. By a vote of 4-1 the Mount Vernon Ohio School Board accepted the referee’s report that upheld the firing of John Freshwater, who not only burned crosses in arms of students but pushed his creationism on his classes against orders from his superiors.

From the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) website:

On January 10, 2011, the Mount Vernon City Schools Board of Education voted 4-1 to terminate the employment of John Freshwater. A middle school science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Freshwater was accused of inappropriate religious activity in the classroom — including displaying posters with the Ten Commandments and Bible verses, branding crosses on the arms of his students with a high-voltage electrical device, and teaching creationism. After a local family sued Freshwater and the district in 2008, the board voted to begin proceedings to terminate his employment in the district. Finally, after administrative hearings that proceeded sporadically over two years, the referee presiding over the hearings issued his recommendation that the board terminate his employment with the district.

Freshwater officially fired

Also info from the Columbus Dispatch

The hearing is among the most costly and lengthy that education experts can recall. Records, however, are not kept.

Asked if the cost is worth it, officials with the Ohio School Boards Association had mixed feelings.

“It’s sad that they had to spend all that money to do what they thought was right all along,” said Rick Lewis, executive director.

The board voted unanimously in 2008 to terminate Freshwater. But under state law, teachers are entitled to an administrative hearing to defend themselves.

The process protects teachers and also discourages districts from keeping rogue teachers in less-sensitive positions.

“Allowing somebody to resign and go away and pass those problems on to another school district isn’t right, either,” Lewis said.

Asked if the system works, Holly Ready, chief legal counsel for the association, said, “I think it’s fairly clear that it’s not working in all cases. That’s a huge burden on taxpayers – we’re paying for that.”

Mount Vernon schools pay to uphold Freshwater firing

Finally! Hearing report says teacher who pushed Christianity in science class should be fired

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Well it took about two years, but in a report released by a state hearing officer, he concluded that John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon Ohio teacher who was to be fired for proselytizing in his 8th grade science class should be fired.


In the report, Shepherd said Freshwater was given ample opportunity to change his content and style of teaching.

“(Freshwater) persisted in his attempts to make eighth grade science what he thought it should be – an examination of accepted scientific curriculum with the discerning eye of Christian doctrine,” Shepherd wrote. “He used his classroom as a means of sowing the seeds of doubt and confusion in the minds of impressionable students as they searched for meaning in the subject of science.”

Freshwater had for years asked the school board to consider allowing a curriculum that includes arguments against evolution. Shepherd wrote that after no changes were made, Freshwater took it upon himself to hand out Christian materials and push creationism.

State hearing officer: Mount Vernon teacher should be fired for pushing Christian agenda

Freshwater also was accused of burning crosses in the arms of some students. A lawsuit about that was settled earlier. Until I see the state hearing report I’m not sure if that child abuse was mentioned.

The next step, which I hope is the final one, is the Mount Vernon school board accepts the report and finally fires Freshwater.

*Updated*

I’ve been trying to get a copy of the report. The link on the page of the Dispatch article is broken so probably won’t have a copy until Monday. But the website Panda’s Thumb has more details on the report.

Freshwater: Summary of the referee’s recommendation

How does your head NOT hurt Bill O’Reilly?

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What really pushes my buttons are average well educated people who are science stupid. I’m not talking about not knowing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by heart but basic science like how magnets work. Talk show host Bill O’Reilly has a problem with knowing basic science and there is video to prove it.

On his 01/04/2010 FOX “news” program “The O’Reilly Factor” he said this:

“Tide comes in tide goes out, never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in….”

His guest was David Silverman, President of American Atheists. The topic was the new billboard American Atheist sponsored in Huntsville Alabama that had the text “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS” along side the major religious symbols.

In his rush to defend religion, O’Reilly picked the wrong item to “prove” religion is real. Many people try to argue that if you can’t explain something then it must be “God” but people try to pick something that is in fact not easy to explain or currently can’t be explained.

In you might be wondering, ocean tides are influenced by the gravity of the Moon.

Here is a video of the “interview”:

This is why we need a rededication to strong rational science education. Mom’s don’t let your kids grow up to be science stupid like Bill O’Reilly.