(COLUMBUS DISPATCH) — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Mount Vernon City Schools properly fired middle-school science teacher John Freshwater because his refusal to eliminate religious symbols from the classroom — excluding his Bible — was insubordination.
While the school district unconstitutionally overstepped its bounds in ordering Freshwater to remove his personal Bible from his desk, it properly told him not to “engage in any activity that promotes or denigrates a particular religion or religious beliefs while on board property, during any school activity” or when he was teaching, the court declared today.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in the majority opinion: “The district simply stated what the law, and the First Amendment, commands. Freshwater not only ignored the school district’s directive, he defied it. After he was directed to remove the items, Freshwater deliberately added to them, incorporating the Oxford Bible and Jesus of Nazareth (book) into the classroom. He then refused to remove his personal Bible from his desk, and refused to remove a depiction of former President George W. Bush and Colin Powell and others in prayer from his wall.”
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