Americans United has reported frequently on the slew of Religious Right groups trying to test and redefine the bounds of “religious liberty.” Now it seems yet another organization has joined the fray, claiming that teaching evolution in public schools forces atheism on students and violates the “religious liberty” of some parents.
The Religious Right’s creationist campaign continues to threaten Texas public schools.
The controversy began when Texas’ State Board of Education appointed a number of creationists to review panels meant to ensure the quality of new biology textbooks. Despite valid concerns raised by watchdogs like the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), creationists remained on the panels.
Back in the early 1990s, I helped an Americans United activist in Missouri fend off efforts by a small-town school board to insert creationism into science classes.
We were frustrated. We had explained to the members of the board that what they wanted to do was unconstitutional and would run afoul of the 1987 Supreme Court decision Edwards v. Aguillard (at the time a fairly new opinion). They were not swayed.
We always like to report positives, and this week the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) delivered some very good news: legislation aimed at pushing creationism in public schools failed in eight states this year.
The bills ranged from subtly promoting so-called “academic freedom” to openly attacking evolution by offering “equal treatment” for creationism and “intelligent design.” They’re all bad ideas intended to inject religion into biology classes, and we’re very happy to see they failed.
It has been more than 25 years since the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that mandated religious instruction in science classes, yet lawmakers in many states are still pushing ahead with attempts to force creationist concepts into the public schools.
The 2013 legislative session has just begun, and there are already anti-evolution bills (in some cases more than one) circulating in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma and Indiana.
Insanity, it has been said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
In light of that, the state of Louisiana might want to get a mental health check-up. Legislators and some education officials there keep promoting creationism in public school science classes – and they keep getting busted on it.
By Noah Fitzgerel
The other day I wrote about the ongoing disgrace of the Louisiana school voucher program, which – among other bad outcomes – will soon be pouring millions in taxpayer funds into the coffers of fundamentalist Christian schools, some of which teach that dinosaurs might still be alive and the Great Depression wasn’t so bad after all.
A middle school science teacher who was fired in January 2011 is set to have his case reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court even though he not only taught creationism, but also was accused of branding a student with a cross.
John Freshwater was an eighth-grade science teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio. In 2003, Freshwater asked the school board to allow him to teach creationism and “intelligent design.” Board members rightly refused, but Freshwater did it anyway.