With the filing of a lawsuit to prevent the teaching of evolution in Kansas, I feel like we’re flashing back to 1999, when the first creationism battles in that state took place. It even involves the same people, like John Calvert, a Kansas attorney who is absolutely obsessed with stopping the teaching of science in public schools. He went on the Janet Mefferd radio show and gave this tired old argument:
The religious rights that are being promoted here are the religious rights of parents to direct the religious education of their children and a state interferes with that when it seeks to promote an atheistic worldview. The second right is the child’s right, the child has a right not to be indoctrinated by the state to accept a particular religious viewpoint, that right is being taken by the framework. The last right is the taxpayer has a right, you know I pay taxes to Kansas, real estate taxes, a good part of my real estate taxes go to fund Kansas public education and I don’t want the taxes used to promote a nontheistic worldview.
Funny, that’s the same thing geocentrists say. And if teaching anything that might conflict with one’s religious views is unconstitutional, as Calvert claims, then we can’t teach that the earth revolves around the sun either. Or that the earth is a sphere, as there are lots of religious people who believe the earth is flat. We can’t teach basic geology either, since that contradicts with creationist beliefs that the flood is responsible for most of the geologic column. Hell, we can’t even teach that micro-organisms cause disease because that conflicts with the Christian Science church. We can’t teach that blood transfusions are a useful medical technique, since that conflicts with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, there’s almost nothing that we can teach at all that doesn’t conflict with someone’s religious beliefs.
Actually, forget 1999; we may be flashing back to 1968. That was the year that the Supreme Court already ruled on Calvert’s position, ruling unanimously that a state could not prohibit the teaching of evolution in Epperson v Arkansas. The court was quite clear:
The overriding fact is that Arkansas’ law selects from the body of knowledge a particular segment which it proscribes for the sole reason that it is deemed to conflict with a particular religious doctrine; that is, with a particular interpretation of the Book of Genesis by a particular religious group…
[T]he state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them.
And to do so would prevent the teaching of all science in public schools. Which is, of course, Calvert’s real goal.
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