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Groups urge Ohio Supreme Court to uphold firing of Creationist science teacher

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Secular and science groups have urged the Ohio Supreme Court to rule against John Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher who was fired for teaching creationism instead of evolution in class.

“Freshwater’s pedagogy serves no legitimate educational purpose in a public school science class, is scientifically unsound, and serves only impermissibly to advance a sectarian purpose, namely, to teach creationism in its tradition version of ‘creation science’ or its modern incarnation of intelligent design,” National Center for Science Education told the court last week.

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Freshwater decorated his classroom at the Mount Vernon middle school in Ohio with Biblical verses and taught his students “competing theories” about evolution. He repeatedly attacked the theory of evolution, encouraged his students to question their scientific textbook, and gave extra credit to students who saw a creationist film. Freshwater was also sued in 2008 for allegedly burning a Christian cross into student’s arm using a high-voltage Tesla coil.

The Board of Education voted to consider firing Freshwater later that year for failing to adhere to the school’s curriculum and injecting his personal religious beliefs into his teaching plan. Freshman sued the school board members, the superintendent, the middle school principal and others in 2009, alleging that his First Amendment rights had been violated. . Freshwater is seeking $1 million in damages and to have his job reinstated.

After the Knox County Court of Common Pleas and Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the Board’s decision, Freshwater appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“Simply put, public-school teachers do not have a constitutional right to impose their faith on their students. There can be no doubt that Freshwater was doing exactly that: He now frankly admits what everyone in the community knew all along-namely, that he was intentionally teaching creationism and otherwise incorporating his religious views into his classes,” Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Ohio Supreme Court.

“The School District had both the lawful authority and the constitutional obligation to curtail his actions; and in the face of his recalcitrance, terminating his employment was, as the referee found, more than justified.”

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Stephen and Jenifer Dennis, whose son was allegedly branded by Freshwater, also urged the court to uphold the Board’s decision. The family sued Freshwater in 2008 and later settled the case for $450,000 plus attorney fees.

“A governmental employee retains all of his First Amendment rights in his private life but must surrender some of them when he is on the job because in that role he speaks for the state as its representative,” the American Humanist Association and the Secular Student Alliance added, citing prior court rulings.

[Intelligent design in school via Shutterstock]

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‘Breadth and scale’ of nationwide protests is ‘staggering’: NYU history professor

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Protests continued to grow in size in cities and towns from coast-to-coast -- and around the world.

"As a historian of social movements in the U.S., I am hard pressed to think of any time in the past when we have had two straight weeks of large-scale protests in hundreds of places, from suburbs to big cities," NYU history Prof. Tom Sugrue posted on Twitter.

"The breadth and scale of #Floyd protests is staggering," he continued.

"We have had some huge one-day demonstrations, e.g. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963); antinuclear march in NYC (1982), and Women's March (2017). We have widespread, simultaneous protests, such as in the days following MLK, Jr.'s assassination (1968)," he explained. "But the two together--very unusual."

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Incel blew his hand off — and may have been planning for suicide bomber attack on ‘hot’ cheerleaders: report

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A young man in Virginia was photographed for his mugshot with extensive facial injuries.

"A 23-year-old Virginia man who appeared to be planning an incel bomb attack on "hot cheerleaders" accidentally blew off his hand with explosives, authorities say," BuzzFeed News reported Saturday. "Cole Carini was charged in federal court on Friday connection with the plot after he allegedly lied to FBI agents by saying his extensive injuries were the result of a lawnmower accident."

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Big turnout for protest in Texas town known as a ‘haven’ for the Ku Klux Klan

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Protesters gathered in Vidor, Texas on Saturday for a rally against racism and police violence.

https://twitter.com/JordanJamesTV/status/1269366486189080576

The East Texas town has long had a reputation for racism.

Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present," Keith Oppenheim reported for CNN in 2006.

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