Bill Seeks to Promote Teaching of Creationism and Intelligent Design into Public School Classrooms
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2012
Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee, (615) 320-7142
NASHVILLE –The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) today sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam urging him to veto SB 0893/HB 0368, which states that teachers must be allowed to discuss the “weaknesses” of existing scientific theories such as evolution, language frequently used by those seeking to introduce non-scientific ideas like creationism and intelligent design into science curriculum.
“No one doubts the value of critical thinking to any serious course of scientific study, but this legislation is not truly aimed at developing students’ critical thinking skills,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. “Rather, it seeks to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology by granting legal cover to teachers who wish to dress up religious beliefs on the origin of life as pseudo-science.”
The letter states that, if enacted, “this measure is likely to result in significant violations of students’ and parents’ First Amendment rights. Moreover, the law is unnecessary; and it threatens to undermine science education across the state, endangering the educational and employment futures of Tennessee’s students as well as the state’s own economic and job prospects.”
Federal courts have been unequivocally clear that efforts to inject religious beliefs regarding the origin of life into public school science curricula are constitutionally impermissible no matter what form they may take.
The ACLU is joined in its opposition to this bill by prestigious national and local scientific and educational organizations, which unanimously agree that there is no scientific controversy regarding the theory of evolution and that the effort to inject this false controversy into public school science curricula will only harm students. Organizations that have also written letters of opposition include the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the National Center for Science Education and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.
A copy of ACLU-TN’s letter to Governor Haslam can be found here.