Center for Inquiry, Washington DC | 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE | Washington, DC 20003
Phone: (202) 546-2331 | Fax: (202) 546-2334
Stop Unconstitutional Funding of Creationism in Public Schools
Stop Unconstitutional Funding of Creationism in Public Schools
Alert! Congress is in danger of passing an earmark for the teaching of anti-evolution curriculum. It must be stopped. Please call and/or send an email to ask them to remove the earmark from the Improvement of Education, Title III Fund. Please do this today. There is the possibility this will be voted on as early as Tuesday, October 16. If you are not in the district of Senators Harkin or Specter, please call!
Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Senator Arlen Specter (if you live in Pennsylvania)
Senator Tom Harkin (if you live in Iowa)
Below is the sample letter:
Subject: Stop Unconstitutional Funding of Creationism in Public Schools
Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
I urge you to remove from the FY 2008 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill’s Committee report an earmark that would fund anti-evolution science curriculum.
The earmark, sponsored by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, would enable the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) to ostensibly “improve” science education while in fact promoting the teaching of creationism in science classrooms.
This earmark, if funded, would be blatantly unconstitutional, because the federal courts have consistently and repeatedly held that creationism, intelligent design, and all other forms of anti-evolution biology cannot be taught in U.S. public schools.
Public education in the U.S. needs to provide students with the best science education possible in order to preserve our global competitiveness. We cannot allow science education to be weakened by irrelevant, non-scientific material.
Please remove the earm! ark.
Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. Tell-a-Friend!
What’s At Stake:
REMOVE UNCONSTITUTIONAL “CREATION SCIENCE” EARMARK
FROM LABOR/HHS/EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS REPORT
The Fiscal Year 2008 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill’s Committee Report. The Fund for Improvement of Education, under Title III, contains an earmark for uses that, if funded, would be blatantly unconstitutional. The earmark would fund curriculum that promotes teaching creationism in the science classroom, even though uniformly prohibited by federal courts.
The requested funding would go to the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) “to develop a plan to promote better science education.” According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the earmark “will pay for a report suggesting ‘improvements’ in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish [Louisiana] School Board’s 2006 [science curriculum] policy.”
The Louisiana Family Forum’s mission is to “persuasively present biblical principles in centers of influence,” including schools. One way the LFF seeks to accomplish its mission is by advocating for teaching creationism in the science classroom. For instance, the LFF played a leading role last year in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana School Board’s adoption of a “science curriculum policy” that
“opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science class.” The policy uses a creationist ploy – “teaching the controversy” – that allows teachers to point out the alleged “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory. This is despite the fact that courts have consistently held this tactic to be unconstitutional and that “the scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming.” Constitutional and scientific issues aside, underwriting LFF’s study of this questionable “science curriculum policy” for which it has already been a vigorous advocate is a dubious use of federal funding, to say the least.
Another LFF strategy in its quest to bring creationism to science class is promoting creationist “addenda” (deceptively called “evolution addenda”) that public-school teachers can use to supplement state-approved science textbooks.
One such addendum, published by the LFF as a “Fact Sheet,” promotes discredited arguments from both the young-earth and intelligent-design creationist movements. Among other constitutional problems, the addendum substitutes biblical explanations for scientific ones by attributing the “billions of fossils” on Earth to “violent floods in the past” and by questioning whether chemical origins of life happened “accidentally” or “by purely natural processes.”
Moreover, alluding to supernatural explanations undermines modern scientific methodology, in which scientists seek natural rather than supernatural explanations. This addendum was written by Dr. Charles H. Voss, a retired electrical engineering professor and close ally of the LFF. Voss is also vice president of the young-earth creationist Origins Resource Association (ORA), which is devoted to bringing creationism into science classes. Voss has written similar, equally problematic, addenda for Louisiana’s state-approved biology textbooks. They are available at his website, TextAddOns.com, to which the LFF posts a link. He authored an ORA “pamphlet outlining Scriptural and scientific arguments showing that God did NOT use evolution as His method of creating.”
His addenda are clearly among the “improvements” in science education and “educational materials” for which the LFF advocates – and for which the U.S. Constitution forbids taxpayer funds to be spent. There is no doubt that the LFF’s intent is to bring creationism into science classrooms with federal taxpayer dollars. The federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have consistently and repeatedly held that creationism in all its variations (“creation science,” “young-earth creationism,” “intelligent design,” and other anti-evolution doctrines) cannot be taught in the publ
ic schools. In Epperson v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court struck down a state statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools, explaining that “the First Amendment does not permit the State to require that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any [religion].” Subseq! uently, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court invalidated a Louisiana statute requiring the “balanced treatment” of evolution and “creation science” in the public schools. The Court declared the law unconstitutional because its “preeminent purpose . . .was clearly to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind.”
Other courts have similarly invalidated public schools’ attempts to teach thinly disguised religious beliefs regarding the origins of life. Most recently, the court in Kitzmiller v. Dover, joined by local, national, and international media, recognized that the school board in Dover disserved the students, parents, and teachers in the community by dragging them into a “legal maelstrom, with its utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”
Federal funding of the LFF’s efforts to introduce creationism in public-school science classrooms will similarly harm the religious liberty of students and their families. As the Supreme Court has explained, the “preservation and transmission of religious beliefs and worship is a responsibility and a choice committed to the private sphere,” for “religious beliefs and religious expression are too precious to be either proscribed or prescribed by the State.”
Parents – not schools – have the right to direct the religious upbringing of their children. Our nation is becoming more and more religiously diverse and Louisiana’s students and their families reflect this diversity. One specific religion’s view of the origins of life should not be taught to the exclusion of others. Doing so sends the message to those who disagree “‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the [school] community, and an accompanyi! ng message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the [school] community.’ Finally, federal funding of the LFF will weaken rather than strengthen science education. “Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.”
Including these religious ideas in science classes “compromises the objectives of public education” and negatively affects students. Teaching creationism “threaten[s] . . . students’ understanding of the biological, physical, and geological sciences” and “deprive[s] students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens in an increasingly technological, global community.” The scientific literacy of students is at risk, which in turn puts our nation’s competitiveness and ability to continue to achieve major advances in technology and public health at risk. Not only would granting federal funding for the LFF’s program be unconstitutional, it also would be bad policy that would infringe upon students’ religious freedom and undermine their education in the important discipline of science.
Campaign Expiration Date:
November 13, 2007