There was a news story on TV the other day about a public school teacher complaining about having to remove his personal Bible from his classroom. The video, included here, showed a protest in the town of Mount Vernon, Ohio. The group there included about dozen people and some students from the school. The teacher, John Freshwater, had been asked to remove some religious theme items from his classroom and to take his personal Bible off his desk when students were in the room.
Freshwater, in his statement, says:
My question today is if Congress can make no law prohibiting the “free exercise” of my faith, from where does the Mt. Vernon City Schools obtain the power to restrict it?
Until the Mount Vernon City Schools can demonstrate to me how I can remove the Bible from my desk without sacrificing my own God-given right to free exercise of my faith, I cannot in good-conscience comply with their directive.
I do not forfeit my right to free expression of my faith when I walk into the school and because I strongly object to the “Christian censorship” being promoted in our schools I respectfully reject the request to remove the Bible.
The thing that Freshwater and those who share his point of view forget is that when you are at work, you don’t get to enjoy 100% of the Bill of Rights. The employer can set reasonable limits of what you can do at work. The 2nd point is that Freshwater is a teacher in a public school which brings in the notion of agent of the state. Courts have said that school teachers and administrators are restricted in religious matters during school hours.
The teacher was also disciplined in 2006 for trying to add Intelligent Design concepts into his science class against the established curriculum. That generated a letter from the school. Read it here.
Freshwater said that putting the Bible out of sight is censorship.
As the letter to Freshwater from the school district says:
While you certainly may read your bible on your own, duty free time [i.e. during lunch], it cannot be sitting out on your desk when students are in the classroom and when you are supposed to be engaged in your responsibilities as a teacher.
Letter to John Freshwater from William D. White Principal, Mount Vernon Middle School 04/07/2008
It states he is free to read it on his non-teaching time. That isn’t censorship.
If you view the video, note who is standing next to Freshwater during his protest. It is none other than Coach Dave Daubenmire who also lost his own battle to subvert the 1st amendment while he was a high school football coach. If Freshwater is taking pointers from Daubenmire then he is asking for driving lessons from a sightless person.
Well on April 22, the Freshwater story got better. Not only is he being investigated for not complying to the request to remove his Bible from sight, he is also being investigated for using a science experiment that burned a cross in a student’s arm and teaching the meaning of Good Friday and Easter during a recent class.
Here is the video:
What bothers me about Freshwater and his actions is they border on obsession, an unhealthy obsession. They HAVE to proselytize 24/7 and if they aren’t they feel like losers or they want to blame others and become the victims.
Most people who have unhealthy obsessions usually require mental help or worse they get put in jail for hurting others – but it seems no one really considers religious obsession wrong.