Branding for Jesus: Ohio Teacher Accused of Teaching Creationism and Burning Crosses into Arms of Students

John Freshwater has long been a controversial teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Parents and other teachers accused him of not teaching required science subjects while drilling in creationism into his students. Now, a lawsuit accused him of literally impressing his students with Christian values by branding them.

Freshwater was the subject of complaints for 11 years, but it appears that the school district refused to take action. Now, consultants have concluded that:
“There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwater’s teachings regarding subjects related to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and state standards,” the consultants reported.

Their report further confirmed that Freshwater burned crosses onto students’ arms, using an electrostatic device, in December.

Freshwater previously fought over his insistence in having the Bible visible in his classroom and teaching intelligent design theories.

Assuming these allegations are true, it will make for a very difficult case for the district. Given the failure of the district to act, a lawsuit appears the only reliable way to deter further negligence in the selection and supervision of teachers in this district.

For the full story and picture of the burned crosses, click here.

21 thoughts on “Branding for Jesus: Ohio Teacher Accused of Teaching Creationism and Burning Crosses into Arms of Students”

  1. Hello Susan,

    I have had a great deal of trouble with this site. It is slow go and glitching like crazy. Hope you are well and drinking your coffee!


  2. Cool Hand Luke is one of the Newman classics I missed. BTW, has anyone been experiencing what I call “technical gremlins” here? I have. Sometimes my posts go up as usual, other times, I’ve hit the “Submit” button twice and each time, the post does not appear. Am I only allowed to post on certain topics? 🙂

  3. Bob,Esq:

    Great video from Cool Hand Luke. My favorite lines:

    Boss Paul: That ditch is Boss Kean’s ditch. And I told him that dirt in it’s your dirt. What’s your dirt doin’ in his ditch?

    Luke: I don’t know, Boss.

    Boss Paul: You better get in there and get it out, boy.

  4. I don’t mind the proclamation of his faith in Christ. Unlike those with the above comments I think its worth the rejection, job-loss, and any negative results that may accompany it (even if it is offensive to others). I would say that in some regards he should have shown more honor and submission to his authorities at the school board. I would definitely agree that the branding was idiotic and weird.

  5. Mespo wrote:
    I think the religious right wackos have adopted the practice to stop the apostacy they see happening around them. What better way to insure piety than a body mark that is permanent.

    Well, if I hadn’t already made an exit from christianity over 25 years ago, this latest assault would have definitely been cause for getting the heck out of Dodge. Frankly, this guy Freshwater sounds like a lunatic!

  6. One would think that a cross literally burnt into the arm of a student would be more than enough evidence that this guy should be not only arrested for criminal assault, but also be immediately removed from teaching permanently as well.

  7. It’s cases like these that make ya wish for the days of putting people in the stocks and on display for everyone on main street.

    “And this is what ya get for using the public school as a platform for your fanatical religious beliefs …”

    Plastic Jesus
    Platic Jesus, ridin’ on the dashboard of my car…

    He don’t slip & he don’t slide
    cause his a$$ is magnetized….

    ridin’ on the dashboard of my car.

  8. Mespo,

    That is an interesting point. In this case I believe branding was the teacher’s way of having total control over his students. It would also give him visible proof of that absolute control. Many cult leaders ask that people hurt themselves on his/her say so to show their complete fealty to the “leader”. It also makes the victim feel “special”, further tying the victim to the perpetrator. They have formed (really she or he has imposed) a bond with the special marking or action. This also silences a victim. The victim may feel ashamed in addition to feeling special. Shame keeps them silent. They went along with it didn’t they? Of course a child did not freely choose to go along with this in any way, but look at the idiots even now saying that the children “choose” to be branded. So shame and specialness work together to close the victim off from help. This teacher, and others like him cement their power very effectively in this manner. This was such a cruel thing to do. It is heartbreaking.


  9. I can drive a hundred miles an hour,

    Long as I got that Almighty power…

  10. JIll:

    I am puzzled by this concept of “branding.” We know that paramilitray groups have mandated or encouraged it for years. Uniforms, tatoos, war paint, and insignias have always been a part of military life that was justified for reasons of identifying members on a battlefield and preventing desertions. I think the religious right wackos have adopted the practice to stop the apostacy they see happening around them. What better way to insure piety than a body mark that is permanent.

  11. Anne:

    Mt Vernon is also a high school in Northern Virginia,and when I first looked I thought the story was about that school. Thankfully it wasn’t, but the fact that I wasn’t shocked after living here all of my life, says something too.

  12. P.S. Young people may ask for many things. No one needs a brand to show their faith. Any responsible adult would state that in no uncertain terms. A sane option would include directing them to a myriad of other ways to display their faith, perhaps by volunteering to help others etc. Anyone who justifies harming a child by saying they asked for it is not taking the responsibility of adults to help, not harm children seriously. This man is disturbed. To justify his actions this way is unethical and appalling.

  13. Mespo and puzzling,

    I was thinking the same. This man is obviously disturbed, to put it mildly. The fact that his bizarre and destructive actions were allowed past one notification does seem to be the result of religious delusions. It seems many defenders of his actions hold these same delusions. I don’t really see how claiming a teacher branded his students with an X instead of a cross improves things.

    Thank you both for your insights into this and other postings.


  14. This happened in Mt. Vernon, OHIO, not Virginia.

    Mt. Vernon in Virginia is a historic site. George Washington slept there!

  15. Another example of psychosis masquerading as religiosity and the failure of those in authority to recognize it due to their own religious delusions.

  16. How blinding must this teacher’s beliefs have been to fail to see the wrong in branding his own students?

    I have seen people defending this teacher online, saying that this mark “was an X, not a cross”, or that these students voluntarily “asked for it” as some kind of affirmation of their beliefs.

    These same defenders are the ones who use pseudoscience to legitimize creationism and blunt the tools our students need to advance science education and their own global competitiveness… the same defenders who endanger teenagers with STD’s and a lifetime of poverty by compelling abstinence education… while constantly repeating the construct that fanaticism’s dangers are virtually exclusive to Islam, and using religious conviction and its moral infallibility as a justification for war.

    “If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.”
    – Christopher Hitchens on the death of Jerry Falwell

    I’d like to see society wake up and bury this whole movement for the sham it is.

  17. You can make accusations all day long and the people will still be innocent of any wrong doing at the end of the day.

    I am surprised Mr. Turley would print garbage that is so baseless of an accusation. But then again he has been hanging around the LIE-FEST at Countdown with WoodTICk Keith Olbermann.

  18. I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
    Long as I have my plastic Jesus ….

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