Supreme Court Says Firing Of Ohio Creationist Science Teacher ‘Justified’

The United States Supreme Court rejected Monday the appeal of Ohio science teacher John Freshwater, who was fired three years ago for teaching creationism. Freshwater, who taught eight grade science until 2011 at the Mount Vernon Middle School, reportedly taught creationism instead of evolution during science classes and also decorated his classroom with religious verses and imagery.

According to Raw Story, Freshwater was dismissed from his teaching position at the Ohio school for rejecting evolutionary principles and for giving extra points to students who attended creationist films. Freshwater also posted biblical verses on the walls of his public school classroom. In 2008, Freshwater allegedly used a high-voltage Tesla coil to burn a cross on a student’s arm; the family sued and eventually settled out of court.

Shortly after he was fired, Freshwater filed a lawsuit against the school board, claiming that his dismissal violated his First Amendment rights. According to the Huffington Post, the state court decided that the school infringed on his freedom of speech when he was asked to remove his bible from his personal desk. However, they added that the violation didn’t extend to when he was asked to remove religious posters from the walls of his classroom.

When the lawsuit was dismissed, Freshwater pushed his claim to the Ohio Supreme Court. Unfortunately for the science teacher, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld his firing, writing in their decision that the “insubordinate” nature of Freshwater’s behavior as a science teacher already justified his dismissal.

“We recognize that this case is driven by a far more powerful debate over the teaching of creationism and intelligent design alongside evolution, [but] here, we need not decide whether Freshwater acted with a permissible or impermissible intent because we hold that he was insubordinate, and his termination can be justified on that basis alone.”

Because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Freshwater’s appeal, the lower court’s decision will hold it’s place.

Reverend Barry Lynn, director of American United, expressed his support for the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse appeal from Freshwater.

“This case should serve as a reminder to public school teachers and administrators that classrooms are not churches. School-sponsored religious activity is a violation of students’ rights.”

There is an overwhelming evidence for the theory of evolution and almost none for the idea of creationism. According to Pew Research, 97 percent of all scientists in the U.S. accept some form of evolution, with 87 percent of them believing in natural selection as the primary drive behind the biological phenomenon. Eight percent of the scientists surveyed say a supreme being or beings may have been a guiding force behind the process of evolution.

[Image of the Ohio Judicial Center by Sam Howzit/Flickr]