Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Discovery Institute: They'd Rather Lie Than Tell The Truth

"Although Discovery Institute doesn't favor Dover's policy (see here for why)," writes John West on the Discovery Institute Evolution News and Views blog, "we strongly oppose the ACLU's heavy-handed effort to shut down even voluntary classroom discussions of ID through government censorship."

It's a relatively short sentence, but West, as is his way, has nevertheless managed to completely misrepresent the truth in at least two ways.

First, the ACLU is representing those parents who object to having their children proselytized in science classrooms. Indirectly, the ACLU also represents teachers -- mindful of their professional responsibilities -- who objected to being ordered to read a statement they know is false to their students. In fact, all Dover science teachers refused to read the statement, forcing the board to order administrators to do their dirty work for them. Likewise, The ACLU represents students who walked out of class rather than be subjected to a mandatory reading of the Dover School Board intelligent design tract.

So, it is a group of Dover parents, teachers, and students who object to the policy. They sought out the foremost defender of religious freedom in the country -- the ACLU -- to represent them.

Second, you will search the Kitzmiller vs. Dover complaint in vain for any evidence whatsoever of a "heavy-handed effort to shut down even voluntary classroom discussions of ID."

There is no suggestion anywhere in the complaint that, for example, a student would be barred from asking a question about intelligent design or creationism in a science classroom, or that a teacher might be prevented from giving an answer.

In fact, the issue in this case is just the opposite. Parents, teachers, and students object to being forced to read, listen to, or allow their children to be exposed to a religiously motivated mandatory statement that makes false statements about evolution and endorses intelligent design pseudoscience in their tax-supported public schools.

The real issue is whether the school board should be allowed to mandate -- as it has done in Dover -- that students and teachers of many religious denominations and beliefs be subjected to attempts to convert them to the religious beliefs of biblical literalists -- a distinct minority in this country.

The intelligent design activists have the utter temerity to insist that any Catholic, Protestant, or Jew who attends church or synagogue and accepts the fact of evolution is either deluded or an atheist in disguise.

Muslims, Buddhists, secular humanists? Well, let's not even go there.

The real issue in Dover is not suppression of voluntary classroom discussion, but whether a minority religious viewpoint will be given the special privilege of using tax-supported public schools as a tool to convert school children to their peculiar set of beliefs.


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