In its ongoing antagonism toward any hint of biblical Christianity appearing in public life, the United States Supreme Court on June 19 let stand a lower court ruling that had struck down a policy in a Louisiana school district that mandated that teachers in public schools read a disclaimer about evolution to their students.
The 6–3 vote was to decline a review of an appeal by the school board of Tangipahoa Parish, which had required that its instructors in kindergarten through grade 12 tell their students that the “scientific theory of evolution … was not intended to influence or dissuade the biblical version of creation.” This 1994 policy was eventually struck down by a federal judge and a US appeals court. The appeals court ruled that the disclaimer about evolution endorsed religion and advanced a particular religious viewpoint, even though there was no mandating that creation be taught. The school board had appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that students had a right to form their own opinions—or maintain their existing beliefs—regarding the topic of biological origins.
Ken Ham, executive director of Answers in Genesis, declared that he “was not surprised by the Supreme Court vote, given its recent hostility to any mention of biblical Christianity in schools.” He continued: “The court’s action only reinforces our belief that the best strategy to influence schools is one that uses grassroots efforts—not the current court system—to help students hear both sides of the creation/evolution debate.”
Even with our reservations about the strategy used by the school board in this controversy, AiG strongly disagrees with the court’s action. We agree with the comments made by dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia (Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas joined him as the other dissenters) that other theories of origins are worthy of consideration in public schools; furthermore, as Justice Scalia observed, only evolution is being taught in the school district in question, and no other theories were being mandated at all, so no religion was being promoted (Reuters, June 19).
AiG also agreed with the intentions of the Louisiana school board, which was attempting to help its students develop their critical thinking skills as they examine all sides of an issue, and then form their own opinions.
Interestingly, it was in the same state that an attempt was made to require all science instructors in public schools to teach both creation and evolution. The US Supreme Court struck down that law in 1987. In this current ruling, however, it was a local school board policy—not a state law—that was involved, and the school board was not mandating that creation be taught.
The lower federal court did not rule out the possibility that a school board could require some type of disclaimer stating that evolution was not the only accepted explanation of the origin of life. Because the school board in a Louisiana parish had mentioned creation in its disclaimer is what the courts have objected to.
The striking down of a modest effort by a school board to de-emphasize the dogmatic teaching of evolution through a disclaimer only exposes the humanistic agenda of many of the high court’s justices. Rulings like this only confirm that America is correctly labeled a “post-Christian” nation.
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