No Country For Ol’ Creationists1

In the past 50 years, America’s courts systems have increasingly been ruling against aspects of Christianity appearing in the public (and sometimes private) arenas. Both prayer and Bible reading in public schools were ruled unconstitutional in the 1960s; the sanctity of human life as taught in Scripture was undermined in the early 1970s as Roe v Wade legalized abortion; more recently, the display of nativity scenes and the Ten Commandments in public places, and the teaching of creation in public schools, have been deemed by courts to violate the so-called “separation of church and state” belief. Today there is an increasing acceptance of the anti-biblical institution of “gay” marriage and teachers being forbidden to even question evolution in government-run schools.

It is no wonder, then, that as these reminders of a Christian basis in this nation are being removed. Even President Barack Obama has declared in speeches and a book that “Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”2

One of the latest battlegrounds in the culture wars is occurring in the Bible-belt state of Texas, where the Institute for Creation Research has seen a setback in one of its graduate education programs. A federal judge has upheld a decision by state education authorities with Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), that ICR be denied certification of its masters of science degree in its science education program.3 Strangely, this decision came after ICR received a recommendation of approval from a site-evaluation team sent by the THECB, which was also backed by a subsequent recommendation by an advisory committee. However, these positive appraisals were rejected by the state’s education commissioner, Raymund Paredes, who was lobbied intensely by pro-evolution activists. His denial to approve the graduate school’s science program led to ICR filing a lawsuit, but a federal judge in Austin recently issued a summary judgment against ICR.4

The ICR Graduate School had approval to offer its masters of science degrees in California since 1981. When it moved its offices from California to Texas in 2005, ICR made application to the THECB for approval to grant this same degree in its new home state. In Texas, ICR operates as a private, non-profit organization and takes no government monies; accordingly, ICR believed that its graduate school did not need THECB oversight, for the THECB only had authority over schools that received government funding. With this understanding, ICR filed a lawsuit to overturn Commissioner Paredes’ decision. (By the way, ICR did not demand any monetary damages in its suit.) With its suit, ICR was also trying to prevent a precedent being set: namely, that the THECB could go after other privately funded Christian schools in Texas, not only for their creationist content, but other areas of their curricula as well. For example, it is quite possible that Texas will now tell any private school of higher education that it will be regulated by the THECB, especially those Christian schools that teach creation in its science classes.

The reach of government into the private sector like this is ominous. While anti-Christian officials have spent the past 50 years removing Christianity from public life, now they are encroaching on the liberties of private Christian organizations.

ICR has posted an article to its website that goes into depth about a setback for academic freedom in general and Christian schooling in particular, and why ICR has chosen not to appeal the judge’s ruling. See Fighting the Dragon

Other Court Battles

In California, where ICR had previously faced a challenge to operate its graduate school with the approval of the state (and won in federal court in 1991) 5, another creation/evolution controversy has been playing out this year. David Coppedge, an IT specialist with the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is fighting his demotion after he shared videos on intelligent design with co-workers. Coppedge was accused of being disruptive at work because his DVDs were promoting religion. Even though Coppedge has had a long career at JPL, and was once a team leader on the JPL Cassini space probe’s systems administration team, he was demoted; he then filed a lawsuit in a California court.

It is remarkable that JPL, which is chartered by NASA to study the universe, won’t allow a worker to even suggest that the complex universe that JPL studies arose through an intelligent designer. As with the ICR case, free inquiry is being quashed by government officials in favor of the worldview of naturalism.

Also in California, a circuit court has ruled against creation-teaching schools affiliated with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).6 Students attending ACSI high schools and desiring to enroll in the University of California system were told that their science credits were disqualified as prerequisites for admission if creation had been taught in their science courses. Essentially, these ACSI students are being shut out of the prestigious UC system because they did not have enough ‘real’ science credits to be admitted. ACSI has appealed.

These examples of bias against biblical Christianity further demonstrate that America has seen a dramatic change in its cultural foundation. Once a nation built on biblical principles, America has seen a major transformation to outright secularism, which is being fueled by the government, courts, and education systems.

Ironically, this societal shift has also occurred to a large extent within the church. Many pastors and Bible college/seminary professors have compromised God’s Word with the new religion of this age: millions of years of naturalistic evolution. It’s a worldview that attempts to explain all that is around us without God. By denying biblical authority and accuracy, many in the church have actually helped establish a secular worldview in society. And by accepting the so-called “separation of church and state” belief about the Constitution (a phrase which does not appear there), many Christian leaders have been complicit in the ongoing elimination of Christian symbols from the public sector. Ironically, the religion of naturalism (i.e., atheism) has been imposed on the culture with the help of many leaders in the church.

As we state so often on this website, American society needs to return to the authoritative and infallible Word of God as the foundation for all thinking and away from the ideas of fallible men.

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Footnotes

  1. With apologies to the Oscar-winning producers of the 2007 movie No Country for Old Men, which also played out in Texas. Back
  2. Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006), p.170. Back
  3. Institute for Creation for Research Graduate School v. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2010 WL 2522529 (W.D. Tex. 2010, Austin Div.) Back
  4. ICR's Masters of Christian Education (with its joint major in Biblical Education & Apologetics) is exempt from THECB's regulatory jurisdiction. Back
  5. ICR Graduate School v. Honig, 758 F.Supp. 1350 (S.D. Calif. 1991). Back
  6. ACSI v. Stearns, 679 F.Supp.2d 1083 (C.D. Calif. 2008) & 678 F.Supp.2d 980 (C.D. Calif. 2008), affirmed by ACSI v. Stearns, 2010 WL 107035 (9th Cir. 2010). Back