The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: (202) 466-3234,Joe Conn,Rob Boston,Sandhya Bathija

Americans United Warns Louisiana Education Board Not To Adopt Review Policy That Favors Creationism

Watchdog Group Says Proposed Policy For Dealing With ‘Supplemental Materials’ In Science Class Is Flawed And Should Be Rejected


A new policy under consideration by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is slanted to favor creationism and should be revised, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Due to lobbying by the Religious Right, Louisiana legislators approved a law in 2008 that allows for "supplemental materials" to be used in public school science classes. The Board has developed a policy for reviewing these materials that is seriously flawed, says Americans United.

"It's obvious what's going on here," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Louisiana elected officials are once again trying to undercut the teaching of evolution and slip creationism into science classes. This effort must fail."

In a letter sent to the Board, Americans United warns that the proposed review policy is constitutionally suspect because it appears to open the door for creationist concepts to be taught in public schools.

The Board calls for allowing challenged materials to be reviewed by a panel that could easily be stacked with people sympathetic to creationism. It would bypass the expert opinion of the Louisiana Department of Education.

"The proposed procedure for reviewing challenged supplemental material is unnecessarily complicated and appears designed to provide a forum for promoting creationism," asserts AU's letter.

The letter notes that the Board's proposal "would create the opportunity for a show trial with 'experts' presenting reports" that attempt to portray creationist supplemental materials as scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence.

The Louisiana Family Forum, a state affiliate of Religious Right leader James Dobson's Focus on the Family, pushed for adoption of the new law and will likely try to use it to smuggle creationist materials into public schools.

In fact, AU's letter points out, the U.S. Supreme Court and several lower federal courts have struck down the teaching of creationism in public schools. The Board's proposed policy, AU says, is "unfair and illogical" and "appears to have the unconstitutional purpose of promoting religion."

The letter was written by Dena S. Sher, Americans United's state legislative counsel. It was sent to Jeanette Vosburg, executive director of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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.