Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 10 December 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

After complaint, FFRF tackles teaching creationism in Kiel, Wis.

FFRF is warning the Board of Education in Kiel, Wis., to reject a proposal to teach creationism in public schools.

A concerned parent notified FFRF that the board intends to take up the issue at its meeting Feb. 1, 2012. Last September, the board discussed “alternate theories on the origin of man/life, namely providing a balanced view of the subject.” The discussion of “alternative theories include[d] creationism.”

In a Dec. 8 letter to the board, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote that teaching “creationism, intelligent design, or any of their creatively named offspring in public school” is unconstitutional. “Time and again, courts exposed these proaposals as an attempt to foist religious beliefs onto vulnerable schoolchildren, often after a costly legal battle.”

After citing numerous court cases “consistently reject[ing] the promotion of creationism and its ilk in the public schools,” Elliott wrote: “Every attempt to smuggle religion into science classrooms by means of ‘alternative theories’ has failed.”

Elliott also clarified the difference between a “theory” in the layperson’s sense of the word” and a “scientific theory” by quoting the American Association for the Advancement of Science: “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. . . . The theory of biological evolution is more than ‘just a theory.’ ”

The “misunderstanding of these terms often leads to a misunderstanding of evolution, the vast weight of evidence supporting evolution, and of its overwhelming acceptance in the scientific community,” noted Elliott.

FFRF asked the board to “reject any irresponsible proposal to inject religious dogma into the science curriculum.”

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