For Immediate Release
Texas State School Board Should Uphold Sound Science, Reject Creationism, Says Americans United
Religious Right Push For Creationist Concepts In Texas Science Standards Could Damage Textbooks Nationwide, Says AU's Lynn
WASHINGTON - Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged the
Texas State Board of Education to stick to sound science and reject
creationist concepts when revising its science standards.
The state school board is currently examining the science
curriculum, which is reviewed and updated every 10 years. The
Seattle-based Discovery Institute and other Religious Right forces are
seeking to include loopholes that undermine instruction about evolution
and open the door to creationist ideas.
Scientists, teachers, mainstream religious leaders and civil
liberties activists want to improve the Texas standards to ensure that
the public school classroom does not become a vehicle for religious
"Public schools should educate, not indoctrinate," said the Rev.
Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "The Religious
Right is exploiting Texas public schools to push a narrow viewpoint and
in the process is doing a great disservice to its students, not to
mention undermining the mandates of our Constitution."
The battle in Texas is focused on Religious Right-backed language
currently in the standards that requires schools to teach the
"strengths and weaknesses" of evolution. That wording, experts say, is
an invitation to introduce creationist concepts based on fundamentalist
religion, not science.
"Let's just hope members of the Texas school board recognize the
‘strengths and weaknesses' language for what it is," Lynn concluded.
"If they don't, they could be inviting public school districts to face
some costly litigation."
In its letter to the board, Americans
United makes it clear that litigation may result if religious beliefs
are introduced into public school science classrooms.
The board's decision, which is expected to be made in March, could
influence science instruction across the country. Texas is the second
largest purchaser of textbooks, after California. To meet Texas
standards, textbook producers may include creationist concepts in books
that would circulate nationally.
A hearing is scheduled for today in Austin for individuals and groups to testify on the curriculum.
Religious Right groups have already succeeded in pushing through
their agenda in Louisiana, which now allows science teachers to use
"supplemental materials" to teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of
evolution. AU is closely monitoring whether religious beliefs are being
introduced unconstitutionally as science by teachers in Louisiana.
The federal courts have repeatedly struck down other tactics used by
the Religious Right to push religion in public science classes. In
1987, the U.S. Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard
invalidated a Louisiana statute requiring science educators to
"balance" teaching evolution concepts with "creation science" concepts.
In 2005, a federal district court said in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
that Pennsylvania public schools cannot teach "intelligent design," a
creationist concept that claims the universe and living things were
created by an "intelligent cause." The court ruled "intelligent design"
unconstitutional for use in public schools because it is unscientific