Light under a bushel? NO!

I was recently in Mount Vernon, Ohio where the news story of John Freshwater is taking place. If you haven’t heard about this story, it is intriguing and worth looking in to. The story made national headlines last week, being mentioned on many major newscasts including Fox News and CNN. Mr. Freshwater is a middle school teacher at Mt. Vernon public middle school, and has been for some time (20+ years). His faith and Christian lifestyle are well known throughout the smaller, midwest community, and the majority of the students and parents appreciate and support him.

However, recently a parent decided that he/she didn’t like that he had verses on his walls and a Bible on his desk. So he/she complained and made the school principal ask Mr. Freshwater to “remove all religious items” from his classroom. Well, he took down the wall stuff, but held his ground on the Bible on his desk.

What is great about this story is all the support he has garnered from the students in the school system. Middle and High school students are wearing supportive shirts, putting together petitions, and generally voicing their displeasure with the school administration over this. I say way to go!

On a personal level, I was very convicted by this story of some pride in my life. I too like Mr. Freshwater have taken a Bible to my place of employment. However, mine has sat in my desk drawer pretty much for the duration of the 2 years I have been working at said job. I used to think what a good and radical person I was for having my Bible in my desk, but I am so wrong. I realize I am more hiding it in the drawer that using it as a tool for my edification and also to share my faith.

Being in Mt. Vernon and hearing the story of John Freshwater touched close to home with me, showing me how short I come to sharing my faith. I know most people around me know of my Christian faith, but I don’t think they know my passion. I can only sit here and sing the great children’s song, “hid it under a bushel, No!” and realize I must not be ashamed of the gospel! (Romans 1:16)


6 Responses to “Light under a bushel? NO!”

  1. 1 Christopher Waldrop April 23, 2008 at 9:44 am

    The problem with Freshwater is not that he has a Bible on his desk, but rather that he’s using his class to proselytize. Maybe you think that’s acceptable, but also consider the following news item regarding a lawsuit filed by parents who had a child in Freshwater’s class:

    The fax stated, “We are religious people, but we were offended when Mr. Freshwater burned a cross onto the arm of our child. This was done in science class in December 2007, where an electric shock machine was used to burn our child. The burn was severe enough that our child awoke that night with severe pain, and the cross remained there for several weeks. … We have tried to keep this a private matter and hesitate to tell the whole story to the media for fear that we will be retaliated against.”

    This is what he should really be fired for.

  2. 2 Trisha April 26, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Freshwater is a wonderful teacher. He did not preach in his classroom. I had him 14 years ago. what I remember about him is teaching of the periodic table, My grandmother passed away that year and it tore me apart. Not once did he bring up the bible. That “burned a cross into the arm of my child” is bull, I know he passes it around the room or at least he did 14 yrs ago with my class and 10 and 9 with my brothers. And as for Steve Short…. I had him for home room in the 6th grade also went to the same church with him. I still remember things from his classroom that is NOT acceptable

  3. 3 Marvin Pryce April 27, 2008 at 6:21 am

    We have launched an on-line petition in support of John Freshwater. We plan to deliver the signatures to the media and school board. Thank you for allowing us to mention it here!

  4. 4 Marvin Pryce April 27, 2008 at 6:23 am

    To sign the petition supporting John Freshwater, go to:

    We, the undersigned, value John Freshwater as a Teacher, Friend and Community member and insist on his fair treatment by the Mt. Vernon Schools.

    We strongly believe that Mr. Freshwater has been a very popular and effective teacher during his tenure here. Hundreds of students rallied for him recently.

    Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act clearly protects Mr. Freshwater’s right to keep a Bible on his work desk. He should be commended, not pilloried, for upholding moral values. We support John all the way!

  5. 5 Quincy Scott June 21, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Mr. Freshwater can best exhibit his Christianity in a public school by loving his students and modeling virtuous behavior. By using his position as a teacher to in essence preach, he has crossed the line.

    Look, it’s a science classroom. How would you feel if Mr. Freshwater were a Buddhist? Wouldn’t you want him to focus on his subject matter and keep his religious beliefs to himself while teaching? This is not a matter of him “hiding under a bushel” out of shame for his beliefs. It’s a matter of respecting the diversity of beliefs that exist in a public school classroom, and not using ones position as a teacher to press ones own beliefs onto students. Freshwater is welcome to witness all he wants outside of a publicly funded classroom.

  6. 6 Atheist June 24, 2008 at 7:51 am

    In my opinion, all involved – the school board, the secuarists, the anti-religious, and Freshwater himself – have all gone over-board with stubbornness and pride. This thing should have been settled by compromise and negotiation, rather than ending up in lawsuits and firing of a competent, well-liked 21-year teacher.

    That said, I think it a riot that the die-hard anti-religion brigade online has been attacking me, a devout atheist, for having the temerity to defend Freshwater.

    Just because I don’t believe in God, doesn’t mean I need feel compelled to crush everyone who does. What’s so hard about the principle “live and let live”?

    The most dishonest part of the attacks on Freshwater is the trumping-up of the branding charge. The device is harmless. It’s a limited-current Tesla coil. The only reason one kid (of a half-dozen volunteering kids every year for decades) had any discomfort the first night, is that (as his parents later admitted) he put equipment on the same day right over the marking area, and so irritated it.

    Well, at least I learnt something – my fellow atheists can behave badly, too.

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