Dec 20, 2005

Today’s federal court decision against the teaching of “intelligent design” in Dover, Pa., is a significant blow to Religious Right-led efforts to sneak fundamentalist dogma into public schools under the guise of science, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that the Dover School Board violated the separation of church and state when it voted to introduce intelligent design into science classes by requiring students to listen to a disclaimer critical of evolution.

“This is a tremendous victory for public schools and religious freedom,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “It means that school board members have no right to impose their personal religious beliefs on students through the school curriculum.”

Americans United and the Pennsylvania ACLU brought the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District lawsuit on behalf of Dover parents who oppose the introduction of religious concepts into the public school curriculum.

Observed Jones in his 139-page ruling, “The disclaimer’s plain language, the legislative history, and the historical context in which the ID Policy arose, all inevitably lead to the conclusion that Defendants consciously chose to change Dover’s biology curriculum to advance religion. We have been presented with a wealth of evidence which reveals that the District’s purpose was to advance creationism, an inherently religious view, both by introducing it directly under the label ID and by disparaging the scientific theory of evolution, so that creationism would gain credence by default as the only apparent alternative to evolution….”

Lynn said that in light of this decision, it is time for ID proponents to give up trying to insert their personal religious viewpoints into public school science classes.

“Public schools should teach science in science class, and let parents make their own decisions about religion,” said Lynn. “It’s a simple idea that the Religious Right has never been able to grasp.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.