Teaching Religion in Public Schools

A Minn. School Board President Demanded To Know Why Evolution Was Being Taught. This Teacher Had A Perfect Answer.

  Rob Boston

Parents of public school students in Brainerd, Minn., who want their children to receive sound, accurate science education had better stay on their toes. The president of the school board appears to be a creationist – or at least someone who doesn’t understand evolution.

During a recent meeting of the board, President Sue Kern asked two educators why evolution is being taught, reported the Brainerd Dispatch.

“Darwin’s theory was done in the mid-1800s and it’s never been proven,” Kern asserted to Director of Teaching and Learning Tim Murtha and Craig Rezac, a high school science teacher. “So I’m wondering why we’re still teaching it.”

To their credit, Murtha and Rezac remained poised and professional, calmly explaining to Kern that evolution has been documented, that it serves as the foundation of modern biology and, furthermore, its instruction is mandated by the state’s science standards.

Kern then went on to ask, “And with regard to Christian students – how do you do that? They’re taught not to agree with that, so.”

Rezac’s reply could not have been better: “This is science, and science deals with facts. It doesn’t deal with belief. It doesn’t have to be a dilemma or a concern for someone to choose between Christianity and evolution – that’s not what this is about. You can actually embrace both. It’s my duty as a teacher to teach science and not teach religion. That’s the separation of church and state.”

It’s unfortunate that Kern, who holds a position of the authority in the community, doesn’t grasp this. It’s also sad that she apparently doesn’t know that Charles Darwin penned the first word on evolution, not the final one.

Darwin published On The Origin of Species in 1859. It created a sensation, to be sure, but the book also spurred other scientists to action. Darwin’s theory is not frozen in time; far from it – it is constantly being updated and reevaluated in light of new findings and information. That’s what real science does.

It’s a shame that Kern doesn’t seem to understand that. Thankfully, at least some of the educators in the Brainerd school system do. It’s up to them to ensure that students in Brainerd learn modern science, not fundamentalist theology.

Americans United will be watching.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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