Mount Vernon, a small city in central Ohio surrounded by farmland, is dotted by churches of just about every denomination. The town has a strong evangelical presence.
Some residents consider Freshwater a courageous fighter for religious freedom. Others say he has brazenly violated the separation of church and state, as required by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"This is going to be a mess," said Dr. Allan Bazzoli, who has written letters to the local newspaper criticizing Freshwater. "Resident against resident, and worse, student against student."
Freshwater's supporters have rallied on the town's square urging school board members to resign.
A much-viewed sign about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from town reads: "If the Bible goes, the school board should follow."
In some ways, I see this as a backlash to the recent court decisions that are removing the right to teach scripture of any kind in the schools. The parents are hacked off and, in the absence of a decent venue to vent their frustrations, see groups like Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research as their friends. Consequently, they are willing to accept uncritically all of the help and teaching that they get. The perspective almost seems to be "even if its bad science, the kids are getting the scripture they need." You can almost see their point. Almost.