An eighth-grade public school science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is under fire over allegations that he has been proselytizing in class.
Teacher John Freshwater’s actions have divided youngsters in the school, creating what some parents say is an unhealthy atmosphere. Some parents say Freshwater preached about Christianity while discussing the meaning of Good Friday and Easter and that he takes part in meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes by offering “healing” services, when he is supposed to simply monitor them. There have also been allegations that Freshwater teaches creationism.
Perhaps the most troubling allegation was lodged by anonymous parents who charge that in December of 2007, Freshwater used an electronic device to burn a cross on their child’s arm.
The controversy has divided the school.
“You’re either for Mr. Freshwater or you’re against Mr. Freshwater,” parent Beth Murdoch told the Mount Vernon News. “There’s no in between. In the kids’ minds, I think, it is just the Bible issue. And who is going to go against the Bible? Nobody. But it seems like the ‘Christians’ are using that point of view as an excuse to gang up on the ‘atheists.’”
Murdoch told the newspaper that one of her daughter’s friends wore a shirt to school that read, “I don’t need to wear a special t-shirt to be a Christian.” She said that student was reportedly pushed into the lockers and called a “stupid atheist b*tch.”
School officials say they are looking into the matter. In the meantime, they have ordered Freshwater to remove a Bible from his desk. Freshwater’s supporters are active in the media, insisting that his rights are being violated.