The Board of Education in Kanawha County, W.Va., rejected a resolution intended to allow teaching of creationism in science classes last night on a 4-1 vote. The resolution would have repealed a ban on teaching creationism and allowed teachers to offer "theories for and against the theories of evolution."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote to the board this week, warning members of a potential lawsuit if the resolution was passed and implemented.
In a Dec. 13 letter to Board President John A. Luoni, Americans United for Separation of Church and State warned that the federal courts have repeatedly held that public schools may not offer religious instruction as part of their science curriculum. Such government promotion of religion, AU said, violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
"The upshot of these cases is that creation science cannot be taught in the public schools," observed Americans United Litigation Counsel Ayesha Khan. "The proposed resolution would essentially grant permission to teachers to violate this constitutional principle."
Concluded Khan, "We will not hesitate to take legal action in the event that constitutional requirements are not respected."
The battle over teaching evolution in public school science classes is a growing national phenomenon. Americans United is currently opposing Religious Right-backed efforts to alter the science curriculum in Kansas and Oklahoma public schools.
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.