For 15 years, high school biology teacher Larry Booher gave his Biology 2 students an extra credit assignment. All they had to do was read a 500-page book that Booher had compiled from a variety of sources… all of which pointed to Creationism as the way we came to be. It was awful science to begin with, but the fact that a public school teacher was advocating it made it completely illegal.
In all that time, no one complained about the book. Why not? Maybe because John S. Battle High School was in Bristol, Virginia and pretty much everyone you knew was a Christian. But that shouldn’t have mattered.
In 2005, administrators in the district received an “anonymous tip” about what Booher was doing. Ultimately, they forced him to stop distributing his book. And that was it. A slap on the wrist. He continued teaching for several years before finally retiring.
“He told the students, ‘You may read this. You don’t have to. It has some Bible references in it,’” Washington County School Superintendent Alan Lee said Thursday. “This teacher felt like he wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
The superintendent declined to say what punishment, if any, Booher would face, calling it a personnel matter. But he said the 48-year-old Booher was “one of the finest science teachers I’ve ever been around” and would return to the classroom in the fall after he agreed to stop distributing the creationism materials.
“He must teach evolution exclusively — observable scientific fact, not beliefs or religion,” Lee said. “I fully believe he will comply. He just stepped over the line.”
Keep in mind: this all happened just months before the verdict in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a case about teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. Creationism was a major topic of discussion and the Associated Press story about Booher (along with similar reports) made the rounds throughout the media.
So why do I bring all this up now?
Because I’ve been in contact with the “anonymous” tipster who outed Booher in 2005 — and I now possess a scanned copy of the 500-page Creationism booklet.