MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Supporters of John Freshwater stood in a parking lot yesterday asking God to inspire the school board to make the right decision.
Three hours later, the board announced that it intends to fire Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher.
Freshwater preached his Christian beliefs about how the world began, discredited evolution and didn’t teach the required science curriculum, the board says. He was told to stop teaching creationism and intelligent design, but he continued to do so, an investigation found.
“We’re all Christian people. … But rules are rules. You just can’t do that in a public school,” said Karen McClure, a Mount Vernon resident who was at yesterday’s meeting to support her daughter, school board member Jolene Goetzman.
McClure was one of about 60 people at the meeting in the Mount Vernon Middle School library. Most were Freshwater supporters.
Freshwater burned crosses onto the arms of some of his students and told them that gays are sinners, the school board said in a resolution the five members passed unanimously yesterday after meeting privately to discuss the results of an investigation.
Freshwater’s actions became public in April after he refused to remove a Bible from his desk. Yesterday, his attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, focused on the Bible in characterizing Freshwater as a victim who’s being denied his Constitutional right to practice his beliefs.
“They have to tear him up, beat him up, to distract from the issue of the Bible on the desk,” Hamilton said.
Freshwater will request a hearing before the school board to contest the firing, Hamilton said.
After learning of the board’s decision, Freshwater called the consultants’ report half-truths and said he never veered from the state standards for teaching science.
High-school science teachers told consultants that Freshwater’s teachings were undermining science instruction in the district. They reported having to re-teach scientific concepts to students who took Freshwater’s class.
Complaints about Freshwater’s teachings were made by teachers and people in the community for at least 11 years, a school administrator told consultants. Freshwater has taught eighth-grade science in the district for 21 years.
In April, the school board hired HR On Call Inc. to investigate Freshwater, four months after the parents of a child in his class said he had burned a cross into the child’s arm, causing swelling and blistering.
Hamilton called the complaints “fabrications created by a couple of students. … Not a single child has ever been harmed,” he said.
The family of the boy filed a lawsuit last week against Freshwater and district officials, claiming the boy’s civil rights were violated.
The branding was done with a machine used to show characteristics of gases.
In Mount Vernon, the public debate over Freshwater is reflected in signs on the road, one saying that if the school board made Freshwater remove his Bible from his classroom, the community would get rid of the school board.
“It saddens us that we’re at this point,” said Mary Lou Sinzinger, a Freshwater supporter. “This God-fearing community is one of the reasons we moved here.”
A youth program associated with the Los Angeles Police Department will no longer be affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, due to the BSA’s policy of excluding gays, atheists, and agnostics.
The Explorer’s Program, which the Boy Scouts created in 1949, has served since 1962 as a means of giving youth interested in law enforcement practical experience by allowing them to assist the LAPD with crowd monitoring, clerical work, and other tasks. But now the program is set to be re-vamped, dropping both its old name and its last ties to the BSA, which has provided insurance to participants through its Learning for Life program, reported an article posted Dec. 22 at Daybreeze.com.
But the Boy Scouts’ policy of excluding gays, atheists, and agnostics clashes with the city’s non-discrimination policies, and the Police Commission has determined that the LAPD will no longer associate with Learning for Life. The new program will commence on Jan. 1, 2010, and will rely in part on donations.
“It’s bittersweet in the sense that the Boy Scouts or Learning for Life have been part of this for a long time–in name only–but the LAPD is committed to a better program and we can do that without having discrimination,” Police Commissioner Alan Skobin said.
Openly gay Police Commissioner Robert Salzman said that the new program, which he has helped devise, would be “as good or–I’m confident–better than the program it replaces.”
Continued Salzman, “The Boy Scouts are clear that they discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and the result of that is I could not be active on the Boy Scouts.”
The Boy Scouts have defended their exclusion policy, taking the battle to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the group’s right, as a private organization, to determine who may belong. But the group has continued to generate controversy, since it is in some cases entwined with city programs.
The Boy Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, told the Associated Press recently that, “We do have folks who say we probably should rethink this.” The Boy Scouts of America will celebrate its centennial in February, 2010; said Mazzuca, “We can agree to disagree on a particular issue and still come together for the common good.”
For all the organization’s emphasis on leadership and ethical integrity, however, Mazzuca indicated that the Scouts were in no hurry to update their policies. “This issue is going on in every nook and cranny of our country,” Mazzuca said. “We’re just not at the point where we’re going to be leading on this.”
Said Lambda Legal’s Kevin Cathcart, referring to the 2000 Supreme Court decision, “The world has changed immensely in these past nine years and the Scouts appear not to have changed at all.”
Said David Niose, who serves as the president of The American Humanist Association, “The Boy Scouts are synonymous with American values and patriotism–like motherhood and apple pie. By excluding atheists and secular Americans, they are essentially saying we cannot be good citizens.”
It’s not just social attitudes that are changing; how people connect, stay in contact, and influence one another’s views also are in flux, as young people grow up with cell phones, text messaging, and the Internet. Said Mazzuca, “We’ve been slow to realize the changing landscape of how people form their opinions.” The AP article said that BSA is now delving into social media such as Twitter and Facebook to plug into youth culture.
“One of the magic parts of this adventure is that none of the bedrock things that made us who we are have to change for us to be more relevant and dynamic,” Mazzuca said.
The Shroud of Turin – revered as the cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb – is a man-made relic, according to scientists who reproduced a copy of the famous fabric.
Italian chemist Luigi Garlaschelli said his experiment proves that earlier carbon dating of the shroud to the 14th century was correct.
He used materials and techniques that were available in the Middle Ages to explain how a negative image of a crucified man could be imprinted centuries before the invention of photography.
Professor Garlaschelli said his team used the same type of woven linen as the shroud and first artificially aged by heating it in an oven and washing it with water.
The cloth was then placed on a student, who wore a mask to reproduce the face, and rubbed with red ochre, a well known pigment at the time.
The entire process took a week, said Professor Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia.
His replica even includes the spots which, on the original, were said to show blood seeping out of Christ’s nailed hands and feet.
The scientists were commissioned by a group of sceptics and atheists called the Italian Committee for Checking Claims on the Paranormal.
Professor Garlaschelli today said: ‘Many still believe that the shroud has unexplainable characteristics that cannot be reproduced by human means.
‘But the result obtained clearly indicates that this could be done with the use of inexpensive materials and with a quite simple procedure.’
However, Professor Garlaschelli said he still expected people to challenge his research and insist the shroud, kept at Turin Cathedral, is real.
‘If they don’t want to believe carbon dating done by some of the world’s best laboratories they certainly won’t believe me.’
The shroud is first recorded in history around 1360 in the hands of a French knight – a late appearance that is one of the reasons why some scientists are skeptical of its authenticity.
Measuring 13ft long and 3ft wide, it has suffered severe damage during the centuries, including from fires.
Owned by the Vatican, it is kept locked in a special protective chamber in Turin’s cathedral and is rarely shown.
The last public display was in 2000, when more than 1 million people turned up to see it, and the next is scheduled for 2010.
The Catholic Church makes no claims about the relic’s authenticity, but says it is a powerful symbol of Christ’s suffering.
The shroud has been strongly debated within the scientific community.
Some researchers claim that patches used in the Middle Ages to repair the cloth after a fire altered the carbon-dating results.
Another study, by the Hebrew University, concluded that pollen and plant images on the shroud showed it originated in the area around Jerusalem sometime before the eighth century.
The study considered to be the most definitive, however, was carried out in 1998 via separate tests by three institutions granted permission by the Vatican.
The chosen laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, used radio carbon dating on separate portions of the cloth.
They found the shroud dated from 1260–1390.
Thanks to kchiu for this story.
We’ve all heard of people being stoned to death.. But what does that look like?
Militants from Hizbul Islam haul the bloodied body of Mohamed Ibrahim, 48, from a chest-deep pit after stoning him to death for illicit sexual intercourse with a woman in the Afgoye district, Somalia on December 13, 2009. Ibrahim was sentenced to death by a local Islamic court after he was found guilty of infidelity.
Man Stoned To Death (Warning – Very Graphic)
You can thank religious fuckheads for this one, this guy was killed for sleeping with a woman he wasn’t married to..
Before you blame Islam, keep in mind Christians and Jews have done their share of stonings.
…and god told them to be ironic.
Bothwell’s detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state’s antiquated requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Consititution.
“The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it’s certainly not relevant to public office,” the recently elected 59-year-old said.
Bothwell ran this fall on a platform that also included limiting the height of downtown buildings and saving trees in the city’s core, views that appealed to voters in the liberal-leaning community at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. When Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternative oath that doesn’t require officials to swear on a Bible or reference “Almighty God.”
That has riled conservative activists, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina’s Constitution that disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and wasn’t revised when North Carolina amended its constitution in 1971. One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell’s appointment.
“My father was a Baptist minister. I’m a Christian man. I have problems with people who don’t believe in God,” said Edgerton, a former local NAACP president and founder of Southern Heritage 411, an organization that promotes the interests of black southerners.
The head of a conservative weekly newspaper says city officials shirked their duty to uphold the state’s laws by swearing in Bothwell. David Morgan, editor of the Asheville Tribune, said he’s tired of seeing his state Constitution “trashed.”
Bothwell can’t be forced out of office over his atheist views because the North Carolina provision is unenforceable, according to the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. Six other states, Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, have similar provisions barring atheist officeholders.
In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that federal law prohibits states from requiring any kind of religious test to serve in office when it ruled in favor of a Maryland atheist seeking appointment as a notary public.
But the federal protections don’t necessarily spare atheist public officials from spending years defending themselves in court. Avowed atheist Herb Silverman won an eight-year court battle in 1997 when South Carolina’s highest court granted him the right to be appointed as a notary despite the state’s law.
Bothwell said a legal challenge to his appointment would be “fun,” but believes his opponents’ efforts have more to do with politics than religious beliefs.
“It’s local political opponents seeking to change the outcome of an election they lost,” said Bothwell, who’s lived in Asheville nearly three decades and wrote the city’s best-selling guide book.
Even if he can’t force Bothwell out of office, Edgerton said he hopes a legal battle would ultimately force North Carolina’s Legislature to determine the legality of the article of the Constitution.
“If the law is wrong, it is the obligation of the Legislature to say it’s wrong,” he said.
Provisions like North Carolina’s tend to stay on the books because lawmakers would rather not spend time weeding out outdated laws, said Duke University Law School Professor Joseph Blocher.
“I mean there are state laws against spitting in the street,” he said. “Why spend the time?”
But the battle is important to Silverman, who says there are scores of other atheist politicians afraid to “come out of the closet.” He cited U.S.Rep. Pete Stark of California, the first and only congressman to publicly acknowledge he doesn’t believe in God.
“We’re trying to change our culture to the point where it’s not political suicide,” Silverman said.
Best part of the article: “Webb says she has no regrets about leaving him in that recliner.”
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (NBC) — Believing his faith would heal him, a Greenwood County, South Carolina man sat down in his recliner after an injury in March and never got up.
On Thursday, his wife explained why he stayed in the recliner until shortly before he died.
“The man totally believed in God and his healing,” said Ada Webb.
In March, Webb’s 550-pound husband, Tillmon, sat down in a recliner inside their trailer in Greenwood. Wearing nothing but a blanket, the 33-year-old didn’t move from that recliner for the next eight months.
“He couldn’t do nothing for his self and I couldn’t do but so much,” Webb explained.
Webb says Tillmon tore his ACL in March and drove to a doctor’s office.
“They were gonna give him an appointment, but they wanted $300 up front, and we didn’t have the money,” said Webb.
Webb says he returned to the recliner, picked up his Bible and became determined that faith would heal his leg.
“He read his Bible daily, he spent his full focus on God,” said Webb. “And he was literally waiting and praying for a Job miracle. If anybody knows the Bible and knows Job, he really and fully believed that God was going to heal him just like he did Job, because he said he couldn’t think of a better testimony to go out and to tell people.”
For eight months they had no visitors. Webb rarely left his side, and she tried to keep him clean.
“I couldn’t get him rolled over to use a bedpan,” said Webb.
Other than eating and reading the Bible, she says Tillmon posted sermons online and texted messages of faith through his cell phone.
“He wanted so much to get up and you know, he wanted to tell everybody what Jesus done,” said Webb.
Webb says Tillmon consistently told her not to call for help. She says Wednesday morning he was in so much pain that she finally called an ambulance.
Greenwood County authorities say they found Tillmon covered with sores, and that he appeared to weigh about 800 pounds. They say he was stuck to his chair, and they had to saw the recliner apart. They cut a large hole around the front door to get him out.
He died at the hospital.
Webb says she has no regrets about leaving him in that recliner.
“If I feel anything right now, it’s envy for him because I wish he had taken me with him,” said Webb.
Greenwood County deputies will not charge Webb with a crime. They determined she had no malicious intent of neglect.
Neighbors at the trailer park said they had no idea Webb had a husband inside that trailer the whole time.
Jesus has come back! In cow form!! Everyone, praise our lord and cow-savior!
Moses, who has been hailed as a “holy cow”, was born last week at a dairy farm in Sterling, Connecticut, a small rustic town on the Rhode Island border.
The mostly brown calf is half Jersey, half Holstein. Local children gave him his Biblical name.
His owner, Brad Davis, told WFSB-TV he thought the marking may be a message from above, though he is still trying to worl out what that message might be.
Ric Grummer, the chairman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Dairy Science, told the Norwich Bulletin newspaper it is not unusual for a Holstein cow to have a white marking on its head.
But Mr Grummer said the cross shape is unique.