NewsTue Jun 24, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Teacher Fired for Refusing to Remove Bible from Desk, Allegedly Teaching Religion in Class
By Tim Waggoner
MOUNT VERNON, OH, June 24, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Yesterday, the Mount Vernon Board of Education voted unanimously to terminate the contract of a Mount Vernon Middle School science teacher. John Freshwater has been a teacher at the school for 21 years. Among several questionable allegations, including that of "burning" a cross on a student’s arm, the only significant allegation Freshwater admits to, is failing to remove his personal Bible from his classroom desk.
According to Mount Vernon News, the Mount Vernon School Board relied on the report of an independent investigator, H.R. On Call Inc., to pass their resolution to consider the termination of Freshwater’s contract. The investigator reported that Freshwater "burnt" what they determined to be a cross, and not an "x" as Freshwater claimed, on a student’s arm during a routine science experiment, taught religion in the classroom, refused to remove religious articles from the classroom, and prayed at a Federation of Christian Athlete’s (FCA) meeting, which is a Christian student-led group Freshwater advises.
In an exclusive LifeSiteNews interview, Freshwater’s Pastor Don Matolyak of the Trinity Assembly of God parish, who has been closely monitoring the case, said the only accusation against Freshwater with any truth to it is his refusal to remove his Bible from his desk. Matolyak spoke adamantly on the partiality of the investigator’s report.
"The investigation is so biased. It should be known that there were people who should have been interviewed, positives for John, that were never interviewed. Who paid for this investigative group? The school board."
"The main issue behind these complaints is John’s refusal to remove his personal Bible from his desk," he explained.
Pastor Matolyak said the entire ordeal started five years ago when Freshwater raised a question to his students about intelligent design. Freshwater was covering the theory in his classroom, just as he was covering the theory of evolution, when he received complaints about the inclusion of intelligent design in his curriculum. Meetings ensued with the principal, superintendent, and eventually the school board, which shot down his argument that intelligent design, like the theory of evolution, should be taught as a creation theory. Freshwater then agreed to stop teaching the theory and has not done so since.
"Since then, there have been people who have had it out for John," claims the pastor, who believes this first incident acted as the catalyst for the recent events.
Several years after the intelligent design debate, in December of 2007, Freshwater was called into the principal’s office and shown a photo of what looked like a person’s arm after being marked by a tesla coil, a electricity harnessing device used in classroom science experiments. Freshwater said he did not know if this was one of his students because he could not see the student’s face. Like many science teachers, Freshwater has been for years demonstrating the capabilities of the tesla coil by marking students’ arms with it, Pastor Matolyak attested.
"John has used it for 21 years; others teachers in the school use it. He moves it over your arm and it leaves a line." Pastor Matolyak continued, saying, "The student gave Freshwater permission to do so. Truthfully they line up to have it done. He is showing what electricity can do. The students volunteer to have it done. It is not something that is coerced; the students have fun doing this."
Freshwater was never approached by the parents of the child, who supposedly complained about the experiment, and he does not even know who the student is. Furthermore, after 21 years of similar experiments, he locked up the tesla coil, as requested by the principal. However, he now stands accused of burning a cross on a student’s arm.
"Someone says it’s a cross, someone says it’s an ‘x’; it’s a matter of interpretation," said Matolyak.
This April, Freshwater was informed that there had been another complaint about him regarding religious articles in his classroom. He was given a written directive to remove from his classroom a collage of the 10 Commandments, several Bibles in the back of the room used by the FCA, and the personal Bible that has been on his desk for 21 years.
After consulting with Pastor Matolyak and receiving legal council, Freshwater decided to comply with every part of the directive aside from the request to remove his personal Bible, which Pastor Matolyak described as his "constitutional right".
The report also alleges the teacher did not remove a religious poster from the wall of his classroom. Pastor Don said he could not imagine what that might be referring to, although he said it may have been a poster of President Bush praying alongside Colin Powell during a meeting.
Freshwater has also been accused of teaching religious beliefs in the classroom, to which Pastor Matolyak responded, "One of the allegations against John is that he is teaching religion in the classroom, and John will flatly deny that. I know plenty of students in the classroom that will say he does not do that. Past and current students who will say, ‘Mr. Freshwater has never taught religion.’"
The last allegation suggests Freshwater prayed during an FCA meeting. To that Pastor Don said, "He supposedly led a healing session and an exorcism during an FCA meeting. The meeting was running late so, the only thing John did was wrap it up by saying a small prayer to end things. Not wanting to be rude, he said a quick dismissal prayer, ‘God go with us today in Jesus’ name.’ We are talking about a Christian organization and he was trying to get the kids to move on."
Not only has Freshwater been fired from his job, he is also facing a legal battle over the allegations. Mount Vernon News reports that a lawsuit was filed on behalf of a student at Mount Vernon Middle School.
Pastor Matolyak concluded the interview by commenting on a claim from the report that suggests Freshwater was not doing an adequate job teaching the students, and that they had to be re-taught at the high school.
"The funny thing is," he said, "the yearly tests indicate his students tested the best out of all the others in the middle school. His students passed with flying colors, but the school as a whole did not pass."
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.