Attorneys with Americans United for Separation of Church and State today sent a letter warning members of the Springboro, Ohio, Board of Education not to attempt to introduce creationism into the curriculum.
The board in late May began deliberating a proposal to include so-called “controversial” issues for classroom discussion. These include “[s]ex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change and sustainable development.”
According to Americans United, the policy appears to be little more than a thinly veiled attempt to sneak creationism, which is based in biblical fundamentalism, into public schools.
Any public school contemplating teaching creationism might as well just hang up a giant banner that reads “Sue Us Now,’” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Courts have been very clear about this: creationism is fundamentalist religion, not legitimate science, and it has no place in science classrooms.”
In their letter to the Springboro Board of Education, AU attorneys listed several federal court rulings against creationism in public schools. A copy of the letter was also sent to Superintendent Todd Petrey.
“The U.S. Supreme Court and the lower federal courts have consistently and unequivocally held that religious views on the origins of life, such as creationism, ‘creation science,’ and ‘intelligent design,’ cannot lawfully be advanced in the public schools as alternatives to the scientific theory of evolution,” reads the letter.
Attorneys with Americans United played a key role in litigating a 2005 case against a public school district in Dover, Pa., where the school board voted to add “intelligent design” to the curriculum. AU’s letter notes that the case had negative consequences for the community.
“In the end, the Dover Area School District lost the case, had its attempt to teach intelligent design struck down, was ordered to pay the plaintiffs a million dollars in attorneys’ fees, and became an embarrassment to the community in the local, national, and international press,” asserts the letter. “What is more, all the members of the school board who supported including intelligent design in the curriculum were voted out of office.”
The letter, signed by AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan, Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser and Staff Attorney Ian Smith, requests a response within 30 days.
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.