Ohio teacher stops peddling creationism

Crosses were displayed in a Garfield High School classroom during a lesson on creationism.Crosses were displayed in a Garfield High School classroom during a lesson on creationism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has stopped an Ohio public school teacher from promoting creationism in his classroom.

In January, Garfield High School biology teacher Gregory Walker in Garrettsville, Ohio, taught a lesson on creationism/intelligent design as a precursor to a unit on evolution. Walker had four crosses on display during the lesson. The “creation model” that Walker introduced is clearly based on religious texts. Walker also had a number of unscientific critiques of evolution.

“As a matter of fact, there has never been evidence of macroevolution,” he said in a typical statement. “You can look at any fossil you want. There is no correlation, no go-between, from any organism to another. Ask any scientist.”

In addition to such patently untrue assertions, Walker discussed the biblical great flood as fact in the classroom and contended that if his students thought themselves to be “here on purpose,” they had to believe in intelligent design.

FFRF took issue with such spurious classroom instruction.

“Teaching creationism or any of its offshoots, such as intelligent design, in a public school, is unlawful, because creationism is not based on fact,” FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote in a letter last month to Ted Lysiak, superintendent of the James A. Garfield School District. “The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down teaching of ‘scientific creationism’ in public schools. Federal courts routinely reject creationism and its ilk in public schools.”

Walker’s display of crosses was an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity, FFRF additionally contended, since courts have consistently ruled that school districts may not display religious messages or iconography. The organization urged the School District to conduct an immediate investigation and take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.

The James A. Garfield School District has reacted appropriately. Lysiak informed FFRF that a parent had also contacted the School District around the same time and that Walker had been asked to not mislead his students.

“It’s agreed that Walker will no longer teach intelligent design and the science involved in it,” Lysiak writes. “To my knowledge, Mr. Walker has since followed board policy in his method(s) of teaching.”

“Science teachers should not be inflicting blatantly unscientific ideas on their students,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Myths like creationism and intelligent design have no place in our public school system.”

Gaylor suggests that a science teacher who believes in creationism should find a new career.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organization dedicated to the separation of state and church with 23,700 members nationally, including more than 600 in Ohio.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend