Dec 10, 2002

Ohio's Board of Education has adopted new science standards that approve "critical analysis" of evolution in the state's public schools, terminology critics say is code language for creationism.

"These new standards are dangerously vague," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "The Board needs to be on notice that any attempt to sneak creationism in through the backdoor of Ohio's public schools will be met with swift legal resistance."

Lynn noted that the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts have stated over and over again that public schools may not teach religious dogma. While the standards may sound innocuous at first glance, Lynn pointed out that terms like "evidence against evolution" and "critical analysis of evolution" are often used by creationist groups that seek to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools.

"The Supreme Court has barred teaching creationism in public schools, so proponents of the idea are trying to water down instruction about evolution instead," Lynn said. "Their ultimate goal is to replace science lessons with Sunday School lessons, and it's unfortunate that the Ohio Board of Education has opened the door even a tiny crack to this nefarious agenda."

Lynn warned that Americans United will monitor the situation in Ohio and will not hesitate to sue any district that introduces religious dogma into the science curriculum.

"The courts have been clear," Lynn said. "Public schools are for teaching, not preaching. We expect Ohio's public schools to uphold that fundamental principle of law."

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.