SB 619, a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would allow the teaching of intelligent design (creationism) in West Virginia public schools, has begun moving in the state Legislature.
For nearly 100 years, from the Scopes Monkey Trial to the intelligent design movement, creationists have tried every tactic under the sun to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools because they see it as a threat to their religious beliefs. The ACLU has fought these efforts from the beginning because public schools are for education, not religious indoctrination.
Here are three reasons why West Virginia doesn’t need to allow creationism into public classrooms.
- Creationism in Public Schools is Unconstitutional
The matter was decided nearly two decades ago. In 2005, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush held a six-week trial during which he heard extensive evidence about intelligent design and concluded that it’s a religious belief similar to creationism and cannot be taught or promoted in public-school science classes.
Public schools that allow teachers to promote intelligent design will pay a hefty price: A Pennsylvania school district paid over $1 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees alone after being sued for unconstitutionally promoting intelligent design.
“The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.
Throughout the trial and in various submissions to the Court, Defendants vigorously argue that the reading of the statement is not 'teaching' ID but instead is merely 'making students aware of it.' In fact, one consistency among the Dover School Board members' testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. We disagree. ... an educator reading the disclaimer is engaged in teaching, even if it is colossally bad teaching. ... Defendants' argument is a red herring because the Establishment Clause forbids not just 'teaching' religion, but any governmental action that endorses or has the primary purpose or effect of advancing religion.”
-Judge John E. Jones III, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
- Intelligent Design Curricula Will Only Widen the Education Gap
West Virginia’s education system consistently ranks near last in the nation, and it’s no secret the state is hemorrhaging population. Teaching religion in the science classroom will do nothing to help our students get ahead, nor will it bolster a more educated workforce.
Undermining public-school science education in the name of religion will leave our children unprepared for higher education and will prevent them from obtaining desirable jobs in the sciences. Employers with science-related businesses may hesitate to settle in West Virginia if they believe that our citizens do not value or possess basic scientific knowledge.
- Religion Simply Doesn’t Belong in Classrooms, Period.
Parents, not public schools, are entitled to instill religious beliefs in their children. Religion belongs where it prospers best – with individuals, families, and religious communities, not in the science classroom.