An Ohio judge has ruled against a public school science teacher who was fired for allegedly pushing his religious beliefs on his students, and for keeping a Bible on his desk. The Rutherford Institute, the legal advocacy group representing him in an appeal of the termination, insisted that the charge has more to do with the teacher’s efforts to get students to think critically about the issue of evolution.
According to the Associated Press, Knox County Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster ruled on October 6 that the Mount Vernon, Ohio, school board was justified in dismissing John Freshwater, a 24-year teaching veteran with an exemplary record. “Eyster noted in his two-page decision that he reviewed more than 6,300 transcript pages from a hearing held before a state referee,” reported the AP. “That hearing officer recommended … that Freshwater’s contract be terminated, and the school board formally fired him within days.”
The Rutherford Institute explained that in 2008 the Mount Vernon school board voted to suspend the science teacher, citing concerns about his conduct and materials found in his classroom, specifically those related to his views and teaching on the issue of evolution.
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Illustration: An 1870s-era caricature of Charles Darwin with an ape or monkey body symbolized evolution.