These are only accusations and honestly I hope that they turn out not to be true:
An Ohio 8th grade science teacher has had conflicts with the local public school over religion in the class room. John Freshwater apparently had been doing some bible thumping in science class, teaching the ten commandments, demanding repentance of his students and so on. The school, of course, had to ask him to tone it down and ordered Mr. Freshwater to remove the ten commandments from his classroom. Later he was ordered to remove a bible from his desk, which he alleged violated his first amendment rights, implying that the book was for his own personal use outside of class hours.
An investigation was launched into Freshwater’s behavior in the class room and the allegations got much worse. Students have come forward alleging that Freshwater had burned a cross into their arms using an “electrostatic device” which was apparently some kind of heat-based cutting tool used by the class. Apparently this occurred during some of his “healing” and purification rituals which he was known to have held.
According to a parent complaint, John Freshwater used an electrostatic device to burn crosses onto students’ arms. One of the students said the pain was so severe it prevented him from sleeping at night.
“The cross-burning happened during an eighth-grade science class,” Attorney Jessica Philemon told 10TV. “It happened with a science machine that uses an electric shock to cause a burn, and the teacher chose to burn a cross onto John Doe’s forearm.”
Philemon said parents complained to the district after the alleged incident in December 2007.
Given that the accusations are so serious, not simply the preaching in class, which is apparently not being contested but the disfigurement of students by burning, a practice which hearkens to the dark ages as a manner of atonement for perceived sins, one would think that a full investigation would be universally supported. Multiple parties have complained about the incident and others related and nobody is denying that Freshwater was a very outspoken and driven preacher in his classroom. However, Coach Dave Daubenmore, leader of Pass the Salt Ministries, the religious group Freshwater is part of, has demanded that the investigation be ended immediately.
To me, this is highly disturbing, because I know if I were accused of something like this which I was innocent of, I would want nothing more than to have a full investigation with the evidence allowed to speak for itself. The fact that it has taken so long for the full investigation to become public and the fact that Freshwater has been allowed to continue to teach, even after the claims of harming his students physically, seems to be based at least partially on strong support Freshwater has been receiving in the community, a predominantly conservative Christian area of Ohio.
Believe it or not, the recent rally which occurred in front of the school was in support of Freshwater and demanded an end to the investigation. It is not the first of such rallies for Freshwater, either. The local NBC affiliate has stated:
In an act of encouragement, students brought Bibles and wore homemade T-shirts to school, supporting Freshwater. A rally was also held to support him early last week.
While the investigation continues, Freshwater will be allowed to continue to teach, although a monitor will be observing his classes and interactions with student at all times. This has been called a violation of his rights and an act of “character assassination” by many of Freshwater’s supporters.
Honestly, this kind of thing scares me. It’s amazing what a group of angry and ignorant villagers with torches can do.
And no, I’m not implying that *all* Christians or religious people are like this, but the support that one can get by thumping the bible and (allegedly) searing the flesh of school kids is disturbing.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Education, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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