Friday, June 27, 2008


Minutemen United plan to be at Pride this Saturday, not to protest but to minister. They will be participating in the Living Waters Project distributing water to marchers and spectators.

The Minutemen plan to meet at the Statehouse at 11 AM for prayer, and then fan out to various locations along the parade route and Bicentennial Park. According to the Minutemen webpag , "There will be thousands of "profoundly lost" souls that need to hear from all of us."

Also, go here for an odd collection of photographs of "body mutilation," with the admonition that "scenes like this could become commonplace across the state, and it would be illegal not to allow or even to criticize such displays."


Oppositional researcher and political analyst Chip Berlet will make two appearances at Comfest here in Columbus on Saturday. His schedule, according to the official Comfest program is:

4:25 PM - Bozo Stage (no subject)
6:30 PM - Solar Stage (Progressive Thought and Political Workshop)

Here is a partial bio of Berlet from the Public

Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates (PRA), has spent over twenty–five years studying prejudice, demonization, scapegoating, demagoguery, conspiracism, and authoritarianism. He has investigated far right hate groups, reactionary backlash movements, theocratic fundamentalism, civil liberties violations, police misconduct, government and private surveillance abuse, and other anti-democratic phenomena. He is a lively speaker defending democracy and diversity. Berlet is co–author, with Matthew N. Lyons, of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, (Guilford Press, 2000), which received a Gustavus Myers Center Award for outstanding scholarship on the subject of human rights and intolerance in North America. He is on the advisory boards of the Defending Dissent Foundation, the journal Totalitarian Movements and Political Religion, and PRA's Public Eye magazine.

The Columbus Free Press will also hold its monthly Salon at Comfest. Unfortunately it's at 4:30 PM at the Solar Stage, at the same time as Berlet's first talk.

There's also some local open source media workshops you might want to check out.

Finally, the amazing Linda Dachtyl (ldb3) is playing at the I Wish You Jazz stage at 5:00 PM on Saturday.

So much good stuff.

Go to the Comfest page for more!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Between 2004 and 2006 I frequently spent Saturdays in front of the old Capital Care Women's Center on North High and E. Weber Road in Columbus documenting the weekly abortion protest. I tape recorded interviews and took hundreds of photographs. Although there were various groups at CapCare (Catholic prayer walkers, a few independent locals and neighborhood folks), the main group of protesters were Coach Dave Daubenmire's Minutemen United in their trademark blue baseball caps-- dubbed "meanies in blue beanies." The Minutemen and a few of their wives and children emigrated each Saturday from Warsaw, Coshocton, Jeffersonville, Hebron, Newark, Lancaster, and Mount Vernon. They added a certain "flare" to the otherwise mundane walkabouts.

Among those coming to CapCare with the Minutemen was John Freshwater.

While Minuteman involvement in the Freshwater case is well documented, as far as I know, Freshwater's Minutemen membership has not been mentioned. I don't know if it's "understood" or over-looked by an incurious media. Whatever, it's important to know that Freshwater is not simply a man under the gun of a "God-hating" school board, but a Minuteman, part of a regional militant Christian dominionist organization with ties to larger organizations such as Operation Save America/Operation Rescue. (see my entires on OSA/OR in my "labels" sidebar.)

Here are some pictures of Freshwater protesting at CapCare in October-November 2004:

Does this mean that John Freshwater's case has been orchestrated? Probably not. But it does mean that the events playing out in Mount Vernon have the potential to get real ugly real fast when outsiders, invited or not, get involved.

How ugly can it can get?

On April 18 Mount Vernon police were stationed in the lobby of Mount Vernon Middle School to prevent entry of unauthorized persons and to protect student privacy.

How ugly can it get?

According to the May 6, 2006 Mount Vernon Press, Parents express concern about environment in school :

from Parent Beth Murdoch:

"My daughter Arie told me about a Jewish child who brought his Torah to school when other students brought Bibles in support of Freshwater,” she continued. “He thought he was supporting freedom of religious expression, and the other kids just ripped him apart. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked. ‘You can’t support Mr. Freshwater, you’re Jewish.’ So they don’t get it.

“I don’t think people realize the depth of what’s going on between the students. It’s a mob mentality right now. It’s peer pressure. To not wear a T-shirt and to not bring your Bible when they say bring your Bible and wear a T-shirt, you’re asking for trouble.

"Murdoch said one of Arie’s friends wore a T-shirt to school that read, “I don’t need to wear a special T-shirt to be a Christian.” That individual was reportedly pushed into the lockers and called a “stupid atheist b****.” That is not acceptable in Murdoch’s mind."

From another parent, Christine Hamilton:

"They have gotten harassed,” she said, “because they are friends with the boy [whose parents filed the complaint against Freshwater]. In our country, everyone’s allowed their religious opinion, but some of the middle school kids are just jumping on a bandwagon. If you’re not for Mr. Freshwater, you are going to be harassed. That is flat out what is happening in the middle school. Therefore, I think a lot of kids are for Mr. Freshwater because they don’t want to be harassed, they don’t want to be singled out. And who wants to be against the Bible? Nobody.

“This whole thing has divided the community,” Hamilton added. “I think a lot of kids who don’t blindly support Freshwater have decided, ‘Boy, friends that we thought we had, are not friends.’ It’s even coming out on the soccer field. ..."

How ugly can it get?

At least four rallies have been held to support Freshwater, drawing as many as 200 people (pictures on Mount Vernon News site).--a significant number for a town of 14,000. Undoubtedly, they represent a fraction of support. The latest was Wednesday night at Riverside Park, but as of this writing I've found no report on it.

How ugly can it get?

Minutemen United have already started a school board recall, which will probably fail, since disagreeing with a school board decision does not fal under gross neglect of duty, misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance.

How ugly can it get?

In another entry here I'll discuss Dave Daubenmire's line-in-the-sand radio broadcast Monday night. Coach and his callers not only openly disagreed with how Freshwater's lawyers are handling the case, but called out the "evanjellyfish," those Mount Vernon-area evangelicals who don't sufficiently promote Biblical American values.

The Us Against Them battle is not just not about "Christianity" Against Secular
Society" but the refusal of evangelicals to embrace the world view of domionists like the Mnutemen.

How far are the the Biblical American forces in Mount Vernon willing to divide their community?


The Mount Vernon News has covered the Freshwater case since it began last year. I recommend that anyone interested in the play-by-play go here. Coverage includes pictures, audio, and videos. (Go to bottom right "Hot Topics" listvand click on Freshwater coverage, or go to the search engine.)

CapCare photos by author Others from Mount Vernon News

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have been following the John Freshwater case since April, though have not written about it. I am working on a few pieces now. The first will go up tonight or tomorrow. The Mount Vernon News' play-by-play coverage should be helpful to those interested in the details--which are far more complicated than media and bloggers would have us believe. (Go to lower right and click "middle school teacher John Freshwater")

What's the lede?

It's whatever you want it to be.

  • The Bible on the desk
  • Evangelization in the classroom
  • Evolution
  • Branding
  • The Establishment clause
  • The ACLU
  • State incursion into religious expression
  • Small town politics
  • Banishing religion from the classroom
  • Christian dominonism
  • Movement building
  • Church building
  • All of the above
  • Something else

Just watch Geraldo Rivera and Dave Daubenmire step in it on Fox News.

It's difficult to understand what is happening in Mount Vernon, especially since (surprise!) the complexities and emotions of the case are mainly left unreported and unexplored. Since I have been unable to attend any of the Mount Vernon events (rallies, school board meetings) I've been surfing the web for something to put up here that might show us (me included) an idea of the depth of emotion the Freshwater case has engendered up there. I think the video below, shot at the April 16 rally on the public square in Mount Vernon, below does it--especially the final 90 seconds.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Now I will sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very beautiful fruitful hill. And he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vineyard and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein, and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes….And now go to ; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.
.....Issiah 5: 1-2. 5 (KVG)

I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch to me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and every branch that barest fruit he purgeth it, that they may bring more fruit…I am the vine ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.
.....John 15: 1-2, 5 (KJV)

Christian Dominionist Minutemen United geared up for Pride early this year.

On June 7, Minutemen founder Dave Daubenmire, Bill Dunfree, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Warsaw, and a small group of Minutemen consecrated Bicentennial Park, site of the annual Pride Festival, to “defend the vineyard.”

Taking Isaiah 5 and John 15, with their prophetic imagery of the vineyard (the Kingdom of God-- ie, OT Israel/contemporary US), the hedge (divine judgment), the hill (the church), and the wild grapes (the self-willed/the unfaithful), as the foundational message for the consecration, Coach Daubenmire and Pastor Bill, called for American Christians to be the “light on the hill.” Though he condemned homosexuality Daubenmire counseled, “we can’t be mad at the homos” Bill Dunfee added later, “We don’t want controversy. We want God.”

The “homos” in fact, got little actual play. In the end they seemed to be a ghost in the vineyard, a handy looming specter among other specters (abortion, feminism, evolution, divorce, illegitimacy, modernity, liberalism, Islam), mucking Grendel-like through US culture wearing the stamp of secular state approval. Or to mix metaphors: the wild grapes

“God planted His church in America, not China or Iraq,” Daubenmire exhorted. God expected America to be good.” Instead, the “grapes of Sodom” are being brought forth. Pastor Bill reiterated. “God started a good vineyard, with good intentions.

Judgment,” he declared, “is the pruning fork.”

Despite the subject of the afternoon’s event, the wild grapes of homosexuality, Daubenmire, directed much of his invective to the unpruned vineyard of the “compromised church” that rejects God’s laws and prophets, at least, according to the particular scriptural interpretation of the Minutemen and their co-theocrats. “Where did the wild grapes begin?” Coach asked? “From the pulpit! From the compromised word of God!”

Yet the question runs deeper. Are, in fact, the Minutemen and similar organizations out to “save” others, the church, and the country? Or are those salvations tied ultimately to their own? “The Lord is the vine. We are the branches. What are the grapes but the fruit of the vine through the branches? Daubenmire declared.” If so, then the wild grapes spring from their own unfaithfulness. Can they not be saved unless others are?

After Bible study, the Minutemen, led by Pastor Bill knelt at the park bench, each taking turns at prayer. Then, after a couple ran to feed the meters, they walked silently to the site of the Pride Festival stage. They prayed at the four corners, and then split up, some with Bibles raised in the air, for a prayer walk around the park and at the Scioto.

When it was over, Coach Daubenmire returned to the bench. “Did you see how filthy the river (apparently the trash heap for current Broad Street-area repairs), is? Horrible. Disgusting. . Water is supposed to be symbol of life. That river is the River of Death.”

No word yet if the Minutemen plan any action at this year’s parade.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


From Pete Johnson, President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism


The House of Representatives voted Wednesday, June 11 to send articles of impeachment against President Bush to the Judiciary Committee for review. The impeachment resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, requested a recorded vote on the motion around 3 p.m. Wednesday, and 24 Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting to send the impeachment measure to the committee. The motion passed 251-166. Kucinich also introduced articles of Impeachment against Richard Cheney
last year (H Res 333).

To those who believe that Impeachment is a waste of time, I offer this quote:

“I don't agree that impeachment divides, and I don't agree that it
diverts. ... I do think, however, that the failure to act now, given
the litany of abuses and the seriousness of abuses, could simply set
the groundwork for future presidents to do the same or worse. If we
want to preserve our democracy, then we have to act to hold the
President and the Vice President accountable.”
-- Elizabeth Holtzman, four-term Congresswoman, former House Judiciary Committee member, and coauthor, The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens

1) A President under impeachment proceedings cannot grant immunity toothers in the executive office, such as Rice, Cheney, Addington,Meiers, Bolton, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and of course, Karl Rove. Article 2, Section 2, gives the President the "Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." Article 3, Section 2, says, "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment; shall be by jury.

2) Impeachment may be the only way to prevent this administration from taking military action against Iran. (Establishment media not reporting on this, for more info google search “military action against Iran "2008" or

IF YOU SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT, PLEASE CALL JOHN CONYERS at 202-225-3951. Or call Pelosi, Reid, or your local congressperson via the Capital Hill switchboard 202 224-3121

Dennis Kucinich says:

It is now imperative that the Judiciary
Committee begin a review of the 35 articles. I will be providing
supporting documentation to the committee so that it can proceed in an
orderly manner.”

“The weight of evidence contained in the articles makes it clear that
President Bush violated the Constitution and the U.S. Code as well as
international law,” said the Ohio lawmaker, whose efforts to impeach
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been largely ignored by the
mainstream media.”--

Kucinich’s action made an immediate splash on the Internet. For example, at progressive website Democratic Underground, the historic performance quickly garnered an astonishing 56 separate threads on the most-recommended list.

By noon on Tuesday, RAW STORY’s article on the subject was the top political story of the day at and the 10th most popular for the last year. A separate article at was also high in the ratings. Both sites, as well as Kucinich’s own webpage, were experiencing slowdowns due to the volume of traffic. However, the mainstream media were far more reticent in their coverage of Kucinich’s resolution — much as they were following the release last week of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence. For example, the Washington Post and USA Today had short items in their blog sections, while other major outlets merely ran wire service coverage from AP or Reuters. Entire article:

My Personal comments:
My friend John Judge, executive director of Coalition on Political Assassinations, is working closely with Kucinich's office on Impeachment. Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press wrote the sections of the Impeachment resolution pertaining to election fraud.

Besides calling John Conyers, you can sign the on line petition supporting impeachment here:

More information at

If you have a friendly Congressman, it would also help if you could ask if he will co-sponsor H Res 1258.

Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism