More on the Climate Crisis

That climate being the "The Climate of Persecution" going on in our public school classrooms today.

Drive into Mt. Vernon, Ohio and it’s like a step back into history. The city, founded in 1805, is anchored by a city square straight out of an old post card or possibly a Norman Rockwell painting. There’s the requisite gazebo, statues and park benches. All of this belies a true American battle brewing that could shatter the idyllic setting of what has been called “Ohio’s most livable city.”

The battle is centered on a mild-mannered, self-effacing middle school science teacher and his Bible. John Freshwater has been a teacher in the Mt. Vernon public schools for over 20 years. Twice he has been designated as “Teacher of the Year” by the School Board—most recently just last year. That was then. A few months ago it seems that a student in one of his classes made accusations that Mr. Freshwater was being too Christian in his class. The extent of the allegations are not known as the School Board is not commenting—with the exception of an occasional “leak” to the press about how “serious” the matter is in light of the “separation of Church and State.” As a result, the School Board demanded that Mr. Freshwater remove a Bible that has been sitting on the corner of his desk for 21 years. You read that correctly, “sitting” on the corner of his desk. The teacher is not accused of reading it, proclaiming it, preaching from it. Nope—it just sits there. Evidently, that has offended at least one student, so the Bible has to go.

There’s just one problem: Mr. Freshwater and his convictions. At the request of the School Board, the teacher has removed a copy of the Ten Commandments from the wall of his classroom and some other “objectionable” materials that might have been somehow construed as “Christian”—but the Bible was the last straw. In direct defiance of his employer, Freshwater has refused to remove the Bible from the desk. He was offered a compromise—put it in a drawer when students were present and take it out when they left. No deal, the humble but courageous man has replied. He has drawn the proverbial line in the sand. The Bible stays and the controversy has exploded.

The ACLU rode into town with the fictional “separation of church and state” penciled in the margins of their Constitution. They threatened the School Board to force the teacher to remove the Bible from his desk or they would sue. At this point in similar stories, the School Board usually cowers before the mighty ACLU and cowardly compliance is the rule. The ACLU did not bargain for John Freshwater or Mt. Vernon, Ohio. This brave man has stood his ground. The Bible remains on his desk. Shortly after the initial confrontation over the Bible, approximately 75 percent of the students in the middle school brought Bibles to school (yes, a public school) and wore homemade T-shirts supporting their beloved teacher. Reports surfaced of 8th graders moving from class to class lugging huge family Bibles under their arms. On a recent Sunday afternoon the city square swelled with hundreds of supporters for a public rally in support of their “Teacher of the Year” and his Bible.

No one can predict the end result of the controversy. John Freshwater continues to teach with a “monitor” present in every class to make sure no one is injured by the Book on the corner of the desk. The School Board has launched a full scale investigation into the “allegations,” The Columbus Dispatch has launched a vicious campaign to malign the Christian teacher and the ACLU is standing in the wings like a bunch of hungry jackals waiting to devour this good man, his reputation, his family and the well-being of his students. Sadly, the large Christian civil liberty organizations that often help in cases such as this have been strangely silent. Sadly, it would seem that this battle is not a “slam dunk” and is not worthy of their attention.

In many respects, Mt. Vernon, Ohio is America—a microcosm of everything that makes up the USA. The battle unfolding there should interest every one of us. The city was named after George Washington’s home and is nicknamed “Colonial City.” Think of that for just a moment—a city with historic ties to George Washington just might declare it illegal to have a Bible on the corner of a teacher’s desk.

How does this mesh with history? It doesn’t. The McGuffey Readers used for generations in America’s public schools were filled with Bible references and Bible stories. The school day began with prayer. In his famous farewell address, George Washington wrote eloquently about the role of religion in our form of government: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” If the School Board of Mt. Vernon bans the Bible from even the corner of a teacher’s desk—it would seem they were defying the wisdom of their namesake.

You probably have never heard of John Freshwater. He is comfortable with that. This is a battle he did not choose, but one he has chosen to fight. If John Freshwater’s Bible is taken off of his desk, will yours be next? Pray for this man and his family. They will have enormous legal bills and unbelievable stress placed upon them. John Freshwater deserves the support of every American who loves liberty.

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Unless the school is a parochial school, religion has no place in public schools - mainly because there are students who have different faiths (I think). It'd be akin to having the Koran sitting on the teacher's desk & the Muslim faith being taught & wondering why Christian students were upset. Religous tolerance goes both ways - to all religions. Some Christians may like to think there's is the only religion practiced in this country, but it is not. The parents & the church should be responsible for religious teaching - not public schools.

As far as referencing old school primers, many also made mention of slaves, black people in a negative way, taught that a girl needs to 'know her place', and were highly stereotyped. That said, those old school primers also had far more advanced vocabulary, spelling & reading for the age they were aimed at, than school books to today.

So you think by having the bible on his desk for his entire career and not once ever opening it or talking about it is somehow teaching religion?! Can you honestly justify that ridiculous bias?

Have you read about the school in Minnesota where Islam is being forced on students? It's a tax-funded Charter school.

Check this out and tell me that having a bible sit on your desk unopened for years is not okay, but this garbage is:

TV news crew probing Islam at public school attacked
Sought comment on state report ordering institution to stop religious accomodation

Posted: May 20, 2008
1:17 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Officials at a charter school in Minnesota attacked a TV news crew yesterday that came to investigate whether the publicly funded institution complied with a state order to stop accomodating Islamic prayers and religious programs.

KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St.Paul reported police are probing the incident at the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., which is housed in the same building as a mosque and the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. The station said a photographer was injured while wrestling with two school officials over a camera.

As WND reported, a substitute teacher at the school reported religion appeared to be a significant educational focus. Amanda Getz said her duties included taking students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform "their ritual washing." She told a Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist teachers also "led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day" led prayer.

The school, which came under investigation after a series of Star-Tribune reports, yesterday was ordered by state officials to comply with state and federal law. The academy must no longer allow Islamic prayers on school grounds and must stop delaying transportation until an after-school religious program is completed, the state officials said.

The state, according to the Minneapolis newspaper, found the 30-minute prayers take up so much time they could burden non-praying students and prevent the school from fulfilling its required number of instruction hours. The state report also noted allowing teachers to participate, even though they don't lead prayers, could give the impression the school endorses Islam.

The KSTP crew was dispatched to the school to cover the story and obtain reaction from school officials, according to a statetment on the station's website .

"While on school grounds, our crew was attacked by school officials," the station said. "Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera. Our photographer was examined by paramedics and suffered minor shoulder and back injuries."

The Minnesota Department of Education's deputy commissioner, Chas Anderson, said the agency "goes to great lengths to make clear to charter schools and their sponsors that, while schools should appropriately accommodate students' religious beliefs, they must be 'nonsectarian' under the state's charter school law."

Along with the issue of communal prayer giving the appearance of state sponsorship, the state said the school should stop delaying its bus service until completion of the after-school Islam course, so students who don't participate can go home immediately.

"We have directed the school to take appropriate corrective actions regarding these matters and will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the school is in compliance with state and federal law," Anderson said.

KSTP reporter Chris O'Connell told Fox News today he and his photographer had been on public property in front of the school trying to reach school officials for an hour. Another camera crew arrived and went directly onto the property to try to obtain a comment, so he and his cameraman followed, he said.

O'Connell said that as soon as he and his cameraman stepped onto the school property, two men from the school "came right out" and tried to wrestle the camera away.

"There were two guys on my cameraman," he said.

O'Connell called police.

"It's quite clear they targeted us as a station," he said.

He said police were investigating various charges related to the cameraman's injuries, as well as possible trespassing charges against the news crew brought by school officials.

"The police are going to try to look into our videotape," O'Connell said. "Our competing station also got video from another point of view. It's pretty telling video. You see it all go down."

The state report said many of the school's operations comply with state charter school law and federal guidelines for prayer in schools, but the two areas – the formalized Islamic prayer time during the school day and the plan delaying transportation home for children until after the post-class religious instruction is finished – must be addressed.

School director Asad Zaman told the Star-Tribune, "I now have proof that this is not a religious school."

The Star-Tribune previously documented that the charter high school for kindergarten through eighth-grade students is named after a Muslim warlord, shares the address of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, is led by two imams, is composed almost exclusively (99 percent) of blacks and has as its top goal to preserve "our values."

And it's all funded by the taxpayers of Minnesota.

Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten wrote she was denied permission to visit the school. The school also has declined to return WND telephone requests for an interview.

The institution has drawn criticism from a number of observers, including Robert Spencer, who monitors such developments at Jihad Watch.

"Can you imagine a public school founded by two Christian ministers, and housed in the same building as a church? Add to that – in the same building – a prominent chapel. And let's say the students are required to fast during Lent, and attend Bible studies right after school. All with your tax dollars," he wrote. "Inconceivable? Sure."

If such a place existed, Spencer said, "the ACLU lawyers would descend on it like locusts. It would be shut down before you could say 'separation of church and state,' to the accompaniment of New York Times and Washington Post editorials full of indignant foreboding, warning darkly about the growing influence of the Religious Right in America."

The substitute teacher Getz told Kersten after she spent the day at the school, "The prayer I saw was not voluntary. The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred."

Kersten previously revealed other links between the school and Islam, including a carpeted space for prayer, halal food in the cafeteria and fasting for students during Ramadan.

The Muslim American Society of Minnesota has not hidden the fact that the charter school is located at its facility. The published program for its annual convention last year – featuring the theme "Establishing Islam in Minnesota" – asked, "Did you know that MAS-MN … houses a full-time elementary school?"

On the adjacent page was an ad for Tarek ibn Ziyad.

I'm sorry - I misunderstood. I do not believe that non-Muslim children should have the Muslim faiths' practices & beliefs take up quality classroom time, nor should it be forced onto them. I feel the same about any religion in a public school. If Muslims need ritual washing, praying, etc. then they should attend a Muslim school that accomodates that.

That said - I do not believe in censorship, ever. And a teacher should be allowed to have on his desk, the Bible or the Koran, or any book (except porn which would violate some law anyway around children, I"m sure) - regardless of whether the school is a public or private/parochial school; regardless of what religion is taught at that parochial school. It should raise no more concern than if the book in question was "Tale of Two Cities" or "Darwinism". As long as the teacher is not reading or teaching religion to the students in a public school, I fail to see why anybody would have a problem with what books are on the teacher's desk. I do have great problems with non Muslim kids being subjected to Muslim rituals during the school day. I'd feel the same if non Catholic kids were subjected to Catholic rituals & prayers during school hours. (or any religion in a public school).

Well said Starling. We agree on that principle entirely.

This kind of thing happens all the time in the government schools. I
will be watching the news today to see if any young people get stopped
from saying the God word in their commencement speech.

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