ACLU to Florida Board of Education: Don’t Allow Religious Groups to Force Their Beliefs Into Science Classes

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
December 18, 2007 12:00 am

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Disguising Creationism as Science Would Be Unconstitutional

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sent a letter to the Florida Board of Education (FBOE) outlining the potential legal risks of adopting a science curriculum that includes particular religious groups’ beliefs about the origins of the universe.

Many different points of view, including creationism, can be taught in a variety of classes such as history, religious or cultural studies. “The problem arises when people seek to inject their religious beliefs into the science classrooms of Florida,” said Becky Steele, Director of the ACLU of Florida’s Religious Freedom Project. “People of faith differ in their beliefs about how the world began. And by their very nature, beliefs about an all-knowing Creator or ‘Intelligent Designer’ are not subject to scientific proof.”

“Time and again the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have struck attempts to teach creationism, or other beliefs based on a supernatural being, in public school science classes. Liability in these cases can be quite costly. The FBOE should keep the state’s science curriculum free of religious controversy and uphold the Constitution,” Steele added

“Parents, not public schools, should guide the religious development of their children” said Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida Executive Director. “The public schools should not endorse one particular religious point of view, take sides in a controversy between religious viewpoints and impose one particular religious view on all students.”

According to the American Association for Advancement of Science’s recent statement on the teaching of evolution, “teaching creationism “threaten[s] . . . students’ understanding of the biological, physical, and geological sciences” and “deprive[s] students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens in an increasingly technological, global community.”

The ACLU’s letter was intended to caution FBOE members about the potential legal risks that could be involved should they include religious beliefs in the new standards.

The full text of the letter is available in PDF format at:
http://www.aclufl.org/pdfs/BOE_LETTER.pdf

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