Many states introduce bills that aim to promote the teaching of creationism or intelligent design and encourage the disparagement of evolution in public school science classrooms.  These efforts continue even though evolution is a widely-accepted standard in the scientific community and is supported by overwhelming evidence.  On the other hand, creationism and intelligent design are not a science, but rather religious doctrine.  Accordingly, the federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, have consistently and repeatedly held that teachers are constitutionally prohibited from teaching creationism and intelligent design in the public school classroom.

Although these bills often do not include inherently religious terms, they are entirely motivated by religion. In order to skirt constitutional prohibitions, the bills include various euphemisms for teaching creationism, including: “critique and review in an objective manner,” “teach the controversy,” “explore scientific questions,” “develop critical thinking,” “strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” “differences of opinion about controversial issues,” and “neo-darwinism.”  The most commonly used term in these bills is “academic freedom,” which is used to promote the idea that evolution is a controversial subject, and that teachers have the right to de-legitimize evolution as a science. Rather than actually promoting analytical thinking, however, these bills instead are vehicles to undermine evolution’s credibility and inject the teaching of creationism into the classrooms.

Additional resources:

  • AU letter opposing South Dakota Senate Bill 112
  • AU talking points opposing “academic freedom” bills 

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