John Freshwater is Back in the News

April 11, 2011

Before I stopped blogging for a year I had been following the John Freshwater case. I first started reporting on Mr. Freshwater in October of 2008 and it’s still going. For background, you can type Freshwater in the search box. Freshwater is the Mt. Vernon science teacher who after repeated warnings continued to teach creationism and Christianity in his classroom. He had Christian posters on the wall, kept a Bible on his desk, although he thought is was O.K. because it was not his regular Bible, and burned crosses into children‘s arms using a device not meant to be used on humans. He said it was not a cross, but an “X.” In addition, he called Islam a false religion.

After month’s of court room proceedings and  much cost to the citizens of Mt. Vernon, the school board was allowed to fire him.

He appealed to the state court who set it back to Knox county. Freshwater’s appeal involves an allegation his constitutional right to express a religious opinion was violated. Here’s Thomas Jefferson’s and The Supreme Court’s idea of free religious expression.

“…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.” Jefferson reflected his frequent speaking theme that the government is not to interfere with religion.[1] The phrase was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. Like many other governing principles, the phrase “separation of church and state” itself does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

So, Jefferson and the Supreme Court both consider there to be a wall of separation between church and state. Freshwater is within his rights to proselytize his religion when not in class. But when working for a publicly funded school, he is required to follow that schools curriculum.

What if your child was sent to a public school that demanded they learn a religion that is not yours. What if you were transferred to a different country and were forced to follow the rituals of their state religion. The fact is, it is foreign to Mr. Freshwater and many other Christians that anyone might have a differing view on religion. We live in a pluralistic society where it is O.K. to have more than one belief. In fact that is part of our heritage, whether John Freshwater likes it or not.

Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists (June 1998) – Library of Congress Information Bulletin
Freshwater firing case back in state court

Separation of church and state


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3 Responses to John Freshwater is Back in the News

  1. 1

    I think your extremist views are one of the reasons the good people of this union are still in chains. You obviously are not a ‘forward thinker’ at all! I hope that one day you will realize that our country was founded on freedoms and certain unalienable rights. What planet do you come from? Take me to your leader!

  2. 2

    Hi James.
    Quite a comment. I understand if you disagree with the separation of church and state which is what the post was about. But what made you so vitriolic that you asked me to take you to my leader? And how is it extreme to follow the constitution?

    I believe your first sentence says a lot. When you say “good people” do you mean people who look, sound, and think like you do. Like the Republican party. I looked around today and the only people I saw in chains were those who unknowingly fell into the trap of right wing conservatives. The ones who say don’t worry about that growing gap between the rich and the poor. It will trickle down … nudge nudge, wink wink.

    You say our country was founded on freedoms and certain unalienable rights. I agree. Rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of those freedoms is also the freedom of religion. Again, our society is a pluralistic one and we accept more than one idea. Sounds forward thinking to me. In addition, it’s one of the reasons that monotheist states don’t like us. It certainly has worked well for Christianity, it’s the #1 religion in America.

    As for my leader, that would be my higher power, whom I choose to call GOD, HP, and sometimes hey you. It will be difficult to meet my higher power because I keep that in my heart instead of trying to shove it up other peoples asses.

    I require that this blog have thoughtful and/or funny posts and comments. Mine was neither as was yours.

    Even after realizing we were on different sides of the political spectrum, I still was ready to have you write a guest column and possibly I would write one for your blog. I don’t mind hearing from other points of view and I always keep an open mind to the possibility mine could change.

    I have a great deal of respect for many of my blogging friends on the right. I’m not so sure your one of them yet.

  3. 3
    James OvertonNo Gravatar says:

    I’m afraid I’ve underestimated you MM.I must admit, I’ve been playing the devils’ advocate with you, and I’ll be forthright from now on. I too have a HP with the same title as yours, and would gladly vote for him in any election. And you’re right, Church and State have NO business being in bed together. Thanks for an honest response. I’ll recommend your site to anyone one who wants a Patriots point of view.

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