Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jewish Student Finds Ten Commandments Offensive

The following testimony took place on 10/29/08—this article relies on the official hearing transcript for details of the testimony.

The student—testifying in a hearing that will determine if his former teacher keeps his job—said that the teacher kept two copies of the Ten Commandments displayed in the classroom. “I didn’t like being in that classroom and being Jewish,” James Hoeffgen said.

Hoeffgen said that there were other items in the classroom that he deemed to be “Christian” but the Ten Commandments was the only item he could name or describe.

The student—a high school senior during the time of his testimony—was called as a witness by the school board in the hearing for Mount Vernon, Ohio, eighth grade science teacher John Freshwater. The hearing began in October of 2008 and has yet to be completed.

Freshwater removed the Ten Commandments from his classroom when requested to do so, in writing, by school administration.

Hoeffgen said that the topics Freshwater covered in class included the age of things. “[W]e were taught such things such as the earth may have been around for only a few thousand years,” Hoeffgen said, “and that carbon dating was inaccurate and things like dinosaurs lived with humans and, for instance, the Loch Ness Monster existed still today.”

One of the handouts he received in class was titled “Survival of the Fakest,” Hoeffgen said. He said that handout, or another handout, contained information about faked drawings of animal embryos that originated in the 1800’s—the handout said that the drawings were still being used in textbooks.

There was an article published in the Dec2000/Jan2001 of American Spectator with the same title and that covered the same subject that Hoeffgen described. (For those that have access to OhioLink, here is the article “Survival of the Fakest” from American Spectator.)

Freshwater never used the words “Intelligent Design” or “Creationism,” Hoeffgen said.

Hoeffgen said he believed that some of the things being taught in class were based out of Christianity. He said he did pass his proficiency test for science.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly why religion doesn't belong in a public school.

Anonymous said...

When I was in the class room, I was offended constantly as a Christian by the Liberals preaching their religion of secularism. I believe in free speech. If a person gets offended, they should go to a private school.

Public Funding requires free speech and freedom of religion in the classroom for all, not just the Secularist!!

Anonymous said...

The teacher should go to a private school. All children should feel welcome in a PUBLIC school. The teacher, as an adult, has the right to make a decision. To follow the laws and teach in public school or teach his personal values and teach in a private school.

Sam Stickle (mountvernon1805) said...

Anonymous said: “The teacher should go to a private school. All children should feel welcome in a PUBLIC school.”

Even a JEWISH student who doesn’t realize the Ten Commandments are from his own religion?

Hoeffgen said...

That Jewish student is my son. The comment was taken out of context. There were many other "Christian items" in the classroom, including the Bible. The teacher also said disparaging things about Catholics, including that they weren't really Christians. It was very clear what the "preferred religion" was in that classroom. My son never told this teacher he was Jewish because he was afraid to.

Sam Stickle (mountvernon1805) said...


Thanks for commenting.

The issue of the alleged statement about Catholics was addressed several times during the hearing.

From the article “School Board Witness Says She ‘Heckled’ John Freshwater”:

“Orsborn said that Freshwater never made the statement ‘Catholics aren’t Christens.’”

From the article “Missing Evidence in John Freshwater Hearing":

“Additional statements by Freshwater […] His son attended a Catholic school for a year—he would not have sent his son there if he thought ill of Catholics.”

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