John Freshwater, an 8th grade science teacher from Mount Vernon, Ohio, a town of some 15,000 people, has taken his long court battle all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court after two lower courts upheld the Mount Vernon School Board’s decision to fire him back in 2011.
Freshwater has been a divisive figure locally and even nation-wide for a long time. While he has been a popular and well-liked teacher, he has also drawn the ire of some students and fellow educators for posting the 10 Commandments and Bible scripture in his classroom, refusing an order by his principal to remove his Bible from his desk, and for reportedly burning crosses into student’s arms.
Freshwater has also been quoted as saying that “science is wrong” in regards to there being a homosexual gene. According to Freshwater, because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, then anyone who is gay has chosen to be gay, and is therefore a sinner.
He also once proposed that the school board adopt a policy to teach evolution as theory, not proven scientific fact. And he was accused of handing out surveys to students asking them how important religion was to them. After initially denying having done that, at a hearing discussing his dismissal, he was shown two of the completed surveys and responded, “it appears like you have gone through my room and taken some stuff.”
Freshwater also used a handout titled “Survival of the Fakest,” to teach his students to doubt science, and as far back as 1994, he was told by a middle school principal to stop distributing another handout titled “Answers in Genesis.”
So now, the case will head to the Ohio Supreme Court. Freshwater is receiving legal backing from the Charlottesville, Va.-based Rutherford Institute, a conservative civil liberties group whose roots are partly based on Christian Reconstructionism.
If Freshwater somehow wins this case, it could open the door for other science teachers to indoctrinate students with religious dogma.
Watch the video below in which Freshwater defends himself against the Mount Vernon School Board in 2010