Religious Liberty Press Release

08.04.11

ACLU Warns Springboro School Officials Against Policy Allowing Creationism in Classrooms

Lawsuit Would Be Costly and Time Consuming

Read the letter to Springboro Community Schools.

SPRINGBORO, OH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter today to Springboro Community City School District officials urging them to reject plans to allow creationism to be taught in public school or risk costly litigation. Recently, members of the district’s Board of Education requested officials explore ways to integrate creationism into the school’s curriculum. Over the past several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have consistently found that teaching creationism, intelligent design, or other religious-based ideologies unfairly promote one belief system over others.

“The ACLU has a long history of defending everyone’s right to practice the religion of their choice, or none at all,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “However, if public schools begin to teach a religious ideology as scientific fact, it sends a message that the school supports that religion over others. Preferential treatment makes all people less free to hold their own beliefs.”

In its letter, the ACLU reminded officials that passing such a policy would leave the school legally liable and it would have to bear the cost of legal expenses when a lawsuit is filed.

“School officials could find much better uses for its resources than passing an unconstitutional policy that flies in the face of their mission to educate young people and perpetuates the myth that religion and science cannot coexist. Evolutionary theory and religion need not be opposed to one another. Many scientists are also devoutly religious and many religious people understand scientific theories,” added Hardiman.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1987 in Edwards v. Aguillard that teaching creationism in public schools was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In December 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that intelligent design, a new ideology promoted as a scientific alternative to evolution, was no different than creationism. Scientists have nearly universally dismissed these theories as unverifiable.

“Springboro students must compete with other young people in the global marketplace. It is irresponsible for schools to divert resources that should be devoted to teaching science to promote certain religious beliefs. Instead, parents should be empowered to educate their kids on their spiritual values,” concluded Hardiman.