13 Feb 2011

Teaching evolution in science classrooms under attack in the US and UK by anti-science creationists

Secular News Daily  -  February 11, 2011

‘Science Guy’ Speaks Out: Bill Nye Says Nay To Anti-Evolution Crusade, As Bills Pop Up In The States

by Sandhya Bathija | Americans United for Separation of Church and State

With Darwin Day (Feb. 12) just around the corner, scientists, educators and citizens across the world are gearing up to celebrate the birth of Charles Darwin and his contributions to science.

As Bill Nye “The Science Guy” recently put it, teachers’ reluctance to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution is “horrible.” Scientific advances that benefit everyone could be at risk if students don’t learn sound science.

“People make flu vaccinations that stop people from getting sick,” he said. “Farmers raise crops with science; they hybridize them and make them better with every generation. That’s all evolution. Evolution is a theory, and it’s a theory that you can test. We’ve tested evolution in many ways. You can’t present good evidence that says evolution is not a fact. ”

Yet some Religious Right-oriented state legislators across the country want to derail the teaching of evolution and weaken science education in public schools. We are barely into 2011 and, according to the National Center for Science Education, already four states are pondering anti-evolution bills, including: New Mexico, Oklahoma (where there are two anti-evolution bills!), Missouri and Kentucky.

All of these measures are carefully crafted with creationist code language intended to sidestep decades of federal court decisions preventing creationism from being taught in public schools. These courts have ruled time and time again that creationism is religious dogma and our Constitution prevents our public schools from favoring any religious belief.

The latest bill, out of New Mexico, HB 302, would allow teachers to inform students “about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses” pertaining to “controversial” topics. The bill would protect teachers from “reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so.”

The Oklahoma Senate bill, SB 554, provides that teachers and administrators be free to inform students about “relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses of controversial topics in sciences,” where such topics “include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution.” The bill also ensures that teachers not be disciplined for teaching science in this manner.

Oklahoma’s House Bill, HB 1551, sponsored by the Religious Right favorite Sally Kern, an avid anti-evolutionist, requires that teachers be permitted to teach the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”

Missouri’s HB 195 uses similar “academic freedom” type language, calling on teachers to encourage students to explore “scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution.” The bill also requires teachers to find “more effective ways” to teach scientific controversies.

Kentucky’s HB 169, the first anti-evolution bill of 2011, would allow teachers to “use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

Most of these bills are similar to legislation introduced in past years that have failed to become law. The bad news is that those who want our public schools to adopt poor science standards just won’t go away.

If you live in any of these states, let your state legislators know you want strong science standards in your home state.

As “The Science Guy” said, “”Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back.”

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Secular News Daily  -  February 12, 2011

Pious Pandering: Ky. politicians court Christian conservatives with Bible curriculum, anti-evolution bill, more

by Sandhya Bathija | Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Is being a foe of church-state separation a prerequisite to being elected in Kentucky? How else can you explain all the work Kentucky government officials have done in the past two months to chip away at the church-state wall?

Yesterday, in the latest anti-separation move, the Kentucky Senate passed a measure that would mandate creation of an official Bible curriculum for Kentucky’s public schools.

SB 56, which sailed through 34-1, directs the Kentucky Board of Education to create guidelines for a social studies elective on the Bible. (Kudos to Sen. Kathy Stein, a former AU National Advisory Council member and the lone vote against the measure!)

State Sen. Joe Bowen introduced the bill this year. Last year, the same measure passed the Senate, but failed in the House – a scenario that (hopefully) may repeat itself this year.

“No doubt about it, the most important book ever written, and obviously, it’s had so much influence on our society and all of Western civilization,” Bowen said of the reason why he wants to ensure Kentucky students have a chance to learn about the Bible.

The courts have deemed that courses on the Bible may be taught in public schools, so long as they are taught from an academic perspective, not as a way to indoctrinate.

Bowen claims SB 56 is merely providing a roadmap for how teachers can successfully teach these courses. The measure states the board should create guidelines for a course on the Bible’s influence on “literature, art, music, mores, oratory and public policy.” It mandates that the course maintain “religious neutrality” and respect “the diverse religious views of students.”

But is this measure really about academics and “religious neutrality?” And what does Bowen mean when he intimates that the Bible has a role in “public policy?”

Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, who voted for the measure last year, took a “closer look” this year before deciding not to cast a vote at all. He said the legislation includes a provision that permits students to use their own texts for the course. That “throws academic credibility out the window,” he noted.

State. Rep. Reggie Meeks also criticized the Senate for pandering to conservative Christian voters.

“It’s like waving meat in front of a dog, OK? You give them what they want,” Meeks told a local news station.

You give them what they want – even if it comes at the Constitution’s expense – and the expense of religious minorities and nonbelievers who may not want their public schools promoting one faith’s sacred scriptures.

Gov. Steve Beshear also seems eager to cater to religious voters. He recently apologized to self-anointed “chaplain to the state capitol” Lee Watts for mistakenly denying Watts’ request to place a display in the state capitol of religious phrases wrenched from their original contexts in historical and governmental documents.

(Although referred to by both politicians and the media as a “legislative chaplain,” Watts is nothing of the kind. In fact, he’s just another Religious Right activist doing everything in his power to usher in a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. His “God and Country Ministry” says America was “founded as a Christian nation, and she can be again, but it will take a new generation of patriots.”)

Initially, State Curator David Buchta, head of the Kentucky Division of Historic Properties, made the right call and denied Watts’ requests based on concerns about church-state separation. But Beshear’s office soon stepped in.

“We are disappointed in this misunderstanding,” said Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear. “We have advised Chaplain Watts that Mr. Buchta was incorrect, and the governor’s office is working with Chaplain Watts to post historical documents in the tunnel.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Kentucky legislators have also introduced an anti-evolution bill this session, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has unveiled a new standard-issue license plate with the words, “In God We Trust.”

Beshear has also voiced his strong support for the building of a creationist theme park featuring a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark – and lots of fundamentalist proselytizing. He has promised developers tax incentives to build in the Bluegrass State.

It’s clear Kentucky needs help. If you live in the Commonwealth, write to your state legislators and Gov. Beshear and let them know you want a strong wall between separation of church and state. The state has a lot of problems that need addressing; elected officials ought to focus on those, not meddling in religion.

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by British Humanist Association

Despite past assurances to the contrary, the Education Secretary Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has said that applications to set up state-funded ‘free schools’ from creationist groups ‘would be considered’. The BHA’s chief executive Andrew Copson has condemned any teaching of creationism and intelligent design in science lessons, and has said that changes such as these to the school system creates a new threat to the teaching of evolution in schools.

The British Humanist Association has been at the forefront of challenging and bringing to public attention the growing threat to education from creationism, and promoting the teaching of evolution in schools.

After five years of campaigning by the BHA and others, in September 2007, the Labour Government published its ‘Guidance on the place of creationism and intelligent design in science lessons’, in which it is made clear that creationism and intelligent design are not scientific theories, and so cannot be taught in science lessons, as they have ‘no underlying scientific principles, or explanations, and are not accepted by the scientific community as a whole’. However attempts to discredit a wide variety of established scientific facts, and promote creationist and creationist inspired ideas in their place, continues.

In June 2010, the BHA coordinated a letter from top scientists and educators to the Conservative Education Secretary, urging him to protect and promote science in the school curriculum, with the specific inclusion of the teaching of evolution in the primary curriculum. The Department for Education’s reply stated that creationism and intelligent design do not form part of the national curriculum for science and therefore should not be taught. However, the response lacks assurances that schools would be required to teach about evolution in science. Moreover, new ‘free schools’ and academies do not have to teach the national curriculum, so the scant assurances from the government that religious myths have no place in the science curriculum will not even apply to potentially thousands of schools.

Mr Copson commented, ‘Successive governments have failed to enshrine and protect the teaching of evolution in primary school science, and moves to lift potentially thousands of existing and new schools out of the national curriculum altogether means that pupils of all ages may not be taught what is probably the most important idea underlying biological science. This, combined with the threat of groups running schools who willingly purport anti-scientific theories which are not supported by evidence as fact, creates a new threat to the teaching of evolution and school science more generally.’

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Louisiana student fighting legislation allowing creationism in science classes challenges deluded congresswoman to debate

Atheist student shunned by entire community including his parents for opposing prayer at graduation ceremony

Teen tells hearing Louisiana Science Education Act is embarrassing, students deserve to be taught proper science

American Muslim Imams join clergy movement to accept evolution and ban creationist teaching in science classes

Hundreds of fundamentalist religious schools in US use public funds to indoctrinate students with anti-science and bigotry

Creationists continue attempts to undermine teaching of evolution in Texas and Louisiana with anti-science dogma

Louisiana school board wants believers to teach creationism in science classes, thinks it will solve discipline problem

US conservative lawmakers increase attempts to legislate promotion of creationism in public schools

Biology teacher in Illinois public high school caught promoting creationism to discredit evolution

The dangers of creationism in education

Creationists weaken U.S. education system, only a quarter of high school students adequately taught evolutionary biology

Video demonstration of how Christian fundamentalists indoctrinate children with anti-science creationist lies

Creationists weaken U.S. education system, only a quarter of high school students adequately taught evolutionary biology

Ohio school district payed nearly a million dollars to fire science teacher who taught creationism 

Hearing for Ohio science teacher sacked for evangelizing and teaching anti-science shows great divide in U.S. society  

Nebraska education administrators get mixed messages from lawyers on legality of promoting religion in schools 

Vacation Liberty School uses Christian fundamentalism to politically indoctrinate children

Federal Court of Appeal asked to stop California college proselytizing and imposing religion on students

Advocacy group battles illegal Christian fundamentalist proselytizing in U.S. public schools

Fundamentalist Christian 'punk' band uses deception to evangelize and indoctrinate in U.S. schools

Radical Christian extremists aim to undermine public education by targeting high school kids for indoctrination into fundamentalist worldview

Christian fundamentalist boot-camp for kids indoctrinates them to fight 'bloody' religious war

Child Evangelism Fellowship complains it is banned from converting children in public housing project

Catholic parents upset that teen son was peer-pressured into baptism in Baptist church while on school trip

European Court of Human Rights rules crucifixes in Italian schools violates children's religious freedom to believe or not

Parental rights vs children's rights: debating the role of religious institutions in Irish education system

Church of England's proselytising plans will target children for recruitment and indoctrination

Quebec bans teaching a belief, a dogma or the practice of a specific religion in government subsidized daycares


  1. The New Legal Theory That Enables Homophobic Evangelizing in Public Schools

    By Katherine Stewart, The Guardian March 29, 2012

    Last month, 8,000 public high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, went home with fliers informing them that no one is “born gay” and offering therapy if they experienced “unwanted same-sex attraction.”

    The group behind the flier, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), isn’t the kind one expects to find represented in student backpacks. Peter Sprigg, a board member of PFOX who doubles as a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, recently told Chris Matthews that he believes “gay behavior” should be “criminalized.” PFOX president Greg Quinlan told another talk show host that gays and lesbians practice “sexual cannibalism.”

    A number of Montgomery County parents, understandably concerned about the unusual flier, filed a letter of complaint with the school district. “Everything in this flier makes it sound like the goal is to be ex-gay,” said Ms. Yount-Merrell, mother of a high-schooler. “It reiterates a societal view that there’s something wrong with you … if you aren’t heterosexual. And teenagers have a hard enough time.”

    In response to student questions, Superintendent Joshua Starr agreed that the flyer was “reprehensible and deplorable.” But he then pointed out, correctly, that he had no choice in the matter. A 2006 decision by the fourth circuit court of appeals made it clear that if the district allowed any outside groups to distribute fliers through the school, it could not exclude groups like PFOX.

    The situation in Maryland may strike many readers as an anomalous event. One would think that it involves fringe characters, is unlikely to be repeated, and can be easily fixed with a new policy.

    But none of that is true. In fact, similar events are taking place with increasing frequency nationwide, and they represent the wave of the future in America’s public schools. Indeed, at this very moment, the New York state assembly is deliberating a bill – already passed by the senate – that will allow New York’s public schools to double as a taxpayer-subsidized marketing channel for extremist groups of every variety.

    How did this happen to our schools?

    Appropriately enough, it goes back to a lesson we all used to learn in school – but that many people seem to have forgotten. America’s founders understood very well that the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are two sides of the same coin. Only by keeping government out of the religion business can we ensure that religion may go about its business freely. They also understood that, as a consequence, freedom of religion is different from freedom of speech. Indeed, they guaranteed those two freedoms in two separate and distinct clauses of the first amendment.

    Over the past 20 years, legal advocacy groups of the religious right – a collection of entities that now command budgets totaling over $100m per year – have been pushing a new legal theory, one that has taken hold of some parts of the popular imagination and that has even been enshrined in recent judicial rulings. The essence of the theory is that religion isn’t religion, after all; it’s really just speech from a religious viewpoint. Borrowing from the rhetoric of the civil rights movements, the advocates of the new theory cry “discrimination” in the face of every attempt to treat religion as something different from any other kind of speech.

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    One implication of this novel theory is firmly embedded in the US supreme court’s 2001 6-3 decision in Milford Central School v The Good News Club. Justice Thomas stated in his majority opinion that to exclude a group from school because it is religious in nature is to discriminate against its religious viewpoint, and therefore to violate its free speech rights. No one challenges the exclusion of partisan political groups using the same thinking – we all recognize that partisan political groups are partisan in nature. But because religion alone is a “viewpoint”, opines Thomas, it is apparently different.

    The other important implication is that the establishment clause of the first amendment – the part that is supposed to keep the government out of the religion business – has been diminished, especially in school-related cases.

    Until 2006, the Montgomery school district, like almost all school districts in the nation, had a degree of discretion in the materials it sent home with kids. Few people had previously questioned the school’s authority to set aside religious and partisan political material, for example. All of that changed when a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship came to town. The Child Evangelism Fellowship is the sponsoring organization for Good News Clubs, which offer a program of sectarian indoctrination in over 3,400 public elementary schools nationwide.

    Backed by the legal advocacy groups of the religious right, the Child Evangelism Fellowship sued the school district and won the right to have its fliers distributed by the schools. The district’s policy on fliers, the majority of the fourth circuit court ruled, was not “viewpoint neutral.”

    The Child Evangelism Fellowship, in partnership with the religious advocacy groups, has litigated similar cases in numerous states, and is, at this moment, suing a school district in Arizona on the question of fliers. These efforts are all done in the name of “religious freedom,” and their advocates proudly announce their determination to fight “discrimination.” But, in fact, they undermine religious freedom and promote discrimination.

    The fundamental problem with the claim that religion is just another form of speech is that it just isn’t true. Religion is special; and notwithstanding the new legal theory, our legal and constitutional system rightfully continues to recognize it as such. Thanks to the free exercise clause, religious groups are allowed to hire and fire people and select their members without regard to the laws that constrain other employers and groups. They receive significant tax benefits.

    More to the point, religious groups are permitted to preach the kinds of doctrines – that homosexuality is an abomination, for example – for which non-religious groups would be excluded from schools and other government institutions. The cumulative effect of the court decisions based on the new legal theory is to force schools and other institutions to provide state-subsidized platforms for the dissemination of religious beliefs.

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    So, which religious groups may be expected to take advantage of this opportunity?

    Much can be learned from the experience over the past ten years in New York City, after the courts forced schools to become houses of worship on Sundays. Although the new churches represent a variety of faiths, the vast majority are conservative evangelical Christian; a substantial number of these are part of national church-planting movements that happen to preach that same-sex relationships are an abomination.

    The Child Evangelism Fellowship is represented at their national conventions by movement leaders who rail against the “homosexual agenda” and promote creationism. One keynote speaker has condemned interfaith marriage, which he referred to as “interracial marriage.” The leaders of the Alliance Defense Fund and the Liberty Counsel – the legal juggernauts that have made the new legal theory possible – have produced books whose titles say it all: The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, and Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk.

    They are perfectly entitled to their religion, of course. They are also, by virtue of recent court decisions, now entitled to promote this religion through America’s public schools.

    The lesson we may learn from our experiences over the past decade is that the founding fathers were right, all along, in acknowledging that religion is more than simply a form of speech. They knew what some of our law-makers and policy-makers may have failed to grasp: when government gets mixed up in the religion business, no outcome is pretty.

    Katherine Stewart is the author of "The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children" (PublicAffairs). Visit her Web site or follow her on Twitter @kathsstewart.


  4. Gov. Haslam allows evolution bill to become law

    by Chas Sisk, The Tennessean April 10, 2012

    A bill that encourages classroom debate over evolution will become law in Tennessee, despite a veto campaign mounted by scientists and civil libertarians who say it will reopen a decades-old controversy over teaching creationism to the state’s schoolchildren.

    Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that he will allow House Bill 368/Senate Bill 893 to become law without his signature, a symbolic move that signals his opposition but allows the measure to be added to the state code.

    The bill will create confusion over the state’s science curriculum, Haslam said. But he also acknowledged that he lacks the votes to prevent the measure from becoming state law.

    “The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin,” he said, “but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective.”

    The decision followed criticism of the bill from national organizations and local scientists, who said it is a cover for reintroducing creationism in Tennessee schools. They linked the measure to the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn., in which a schoolteacher was tried for breaking a state law then on the books that banned the teaching of evolution.

    “It was presented as giving more flexibility to teachers to discuss controversies, but really this has always been about evolution,” said Barry Lynn, executive director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “This has always been a way for teachers to interject their religious viewpoints if they contradict evolution.”

    Unlike the law used to try John Scopes, a biology teacher who flouted the state’s ban on evolution nearly 90 years ago, the current bill does not require teaching any view of creation.

    Instead, it encourages students to question accepted scientific theories — listing as examples evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and cloning — and it protects teachers from punishment if they teach creationism. Proponents say it will encourage critical thinking and give teachers license to discuss the holes in scientific theories if they choose to do so.

    But the bill has drawn national attention.

    Eight Tennessee members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, including a Vanderbilt University Nobel laureate, signed a letter urging lawmakers to vote it down, saying it would hurt students, the state’s reputation and its efforts to recruit science companies. The National Center for Science Education said it would allow teachers to introduce any idea they want into the science curriculum, religious or not.

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    More than 3,000 Tennesseans signed a petition delivered to Haslam last week urging him to veto the measure. Larisa DeSantis, the Vanderbilt scientist who started the petition drive, said Haslam’s decision not to veto the measure was a disappointment.

    “It doesn’t solve any problems; it only creates problems,” DeSantis said. “It is going to bring political controversy into the classroom.”

    First for Haslam

    The bill is the first that Haslam has let become law without his signature. Previous governors have used the technique to distance themselves from bills they disagree with, when it has been apparent that they could not win an override vote.

    The Tennessee Constitution says the legislature can override a veto with a simple majority. Bills become law automatically if the governor fails to sign them within 10 days.

    In his message, Haslam portrayed the bill as essentially meaningless.

    “I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers,” Haslam said. “However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.”

    But the measure could trigger litigation, said Lynn.

    Americans United has frequently joined in lawsuits that challenge schools and districts for teaching evolution. He said it expects such a suit to be filed once districts try to implement the new law.

    “He should have been clear from the beginning what he wanted to do and this result could have been different,” Lynn said. “Now some small district is going to have to figure out what this statute means, and it will become a party to a very expensive lawsuit.”


  6. Doomed To Repeat It: Is Tennessee's New "Monkey Law" Just Scopes All Over Again?

    By Glenn Branch, National Council of Science Educators April 26, 2012

    What difference will Tennessee's new monkey law make in the state's science classrooms? That was the question asked by the Nashville Tennessean (April 15, 2012). The new law encourages teachers in the state's public schools to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that arouse "debate and disputation" such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." Despite his concern that the bill would cause confusion, Governor Bill Haslam decided to allow the bill to become law without his signature on April 10, 2012.

    "Maybe it has a no-religion clause," the Tennessean characterized the law's critics as arguing, "but it gives a wink to teachers looking to promote their beliefs in the classroom — a move that would launch costly lawsuits that history shows school districts tend to lose." Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, told the newspaper that her group is in touch with concerned parents across the state, "waiting for one to report First Amendment violations teachers could make under the mistaken notion that they now have full protection."

    Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who was on the team representing the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the 2005 case establishing the unconstitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" creationism in the public schools, argued that the law places local school districts in a precarious situation: "It basically neuters school boards and administrators from disciplining teachers who run off the rails," he said. "And when the district gets sued by a parent, the teacher gets off scot-free? Why would you do that?" Walczak added, "I would love to come down and do Dover II."

    Gary Nixon, executive director of the Tennessee State Board of Education, was sanguine, saying, "We have some very solid science standards to be taught, and we expect those to be taught." But the Tennessean noted that the state's science standards received a grade of D in the Fordham Foundation's latest evaluation of state science standards, with the life science section faring poorest. Tennessee is committed, however, to adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, due later in the year, in which evolution is emphasized as one of the "disciplinary core ideas" of the life sciences.

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    What's in the standards and what's in the classroom are not necessarily the same. Mike Kohut, a researcher at Vanderbilt University studying evolution education in Tennessee, found in his interviews of students and teachers that "one director of schools admitted he knew teachers taught creationism in the classroom. A teacher said he was offended he is forced to teach evolution. A science coordinator said teaching evolution was a good way to get fired in her district." Kohut regarded it as likely that teachers who wish to introduce intelligent design would understand the law allowing them to do so.

    Confirmation that evolution may already be ignored or disparaged in Tennessee classrooms came from the Chattanooga Times Free Press (April 15, 2012), which quoted one teacher as saying, "We don't even call it evolution. We call it genetic change," and contending, "[Evolution] has nothing to do with whether man was once a monkey." Becky Ashe, president of the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, told the Times Free Press that she (like Kohut) feared that teachers, especially in small rural districts, might take the law as license to teach creationism to their students.

    Derek DeSantis, a high school biology and anatomy teacher — and the husband of Larisa DeSantis, the Vanderbilt University paleontologist who organized a petition calling on Governor Haslam to veto the bill — told theTennessean, "It's not taboo to discuss [religious questions about the veracity of evolution] now ... So if the questions arise, you can talk about it, but it's not the curriculum to teach. So you answer a child's question and move onto the facts of the curriculum." He added, "Honestly, as an educator and a parent, as a teacher in the system, I don't see the need for [the law]."


  8. Creationism still taught in faith schools despite Government funding threat

    Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools despite Government threats to withdraw their funding, it can be revealed

    By Javier Espinoza, Education Editor The Telegraph May 2, 2015

    Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools despite Government threats to withdraw their funding, the Telegraph can disclose.

    Last August Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools found teaching creationism as scientific fact would not be eligible for any money from the taxpayer.

    Yet a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show that 54 private schools are still being funded by local authorities, while continuing to teach that the Earth began with Adam and Eve.

    Only 14 of the 91 schools teaching creationism have had their funding withdrawn, an investigation by the British Humanist Association revealed.

    The campaign group also found that some faith schools' science departments were teaching pupils to identify what happened on each of the days of the creation.

    The curriculum of one group of religious schools reads: "Creation stories give a holistic image of the origins of the earth, plants, animals and human beings."

    In another, it says that 'The Darwinian mechanism delivers clarifying power within a certain range of phenomena, but it is rooted in reductionist thinking and Victorian ethics and young people need to emerge from school with a clear sense of its limits.'

    Separately, the Christian Schools Trust's current guidance to their schools says: "Young children within the schools would learn from the start of their schooling that they are created beings, that they are very valuable to God and that they are made in His image.

    "They would be taught that He is the Creator of all things, including all living things, and that He has designed this Earth to be their home. They would also learn that creation was originally good but that it is now flawed as a consequence of sin introduced into the human race by Adam and Eve."

    The BHA investigation also found five schools under the US firm Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) are also teaching creationism as science.

    continued below

  9. In the past, ACE has allegedly used the Loch Ness monster to discredit evolutionary theories, according to the BHA.

    Its content reads: "Some scientists speculate that Noah took small or baby dinosaurs on the Ark. Are dinosaurs still alive today?
    With some recent photographs and testimonies of those who claimed to have seen one, scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.

    "Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland?

    'Nessie', for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others.
    Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."

    The group has explicitly discredited evolution in its various textbooks, according to the BHA.

    Another excerpt reads: "No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof.

    "Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative - that the universe was created by God - they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof."

    Responding to the FOIs, Hackney council said it has informed schools about the rules introduced last August.

    However, it added: "The Local Authority has not had correspondence with the schools" on a list of 21 schools the BHA identified as receiving state funding despite not complying with the guidance.

    Commenting on these latest findings, BHA director of public affairs and campaigns, Pavan Dhaliwal, said: "We congratulated the government last summer when it changed the rules on nursery place funding to this effect.

    "It is hugely disappointing therefore to discover that creationist schools have continued to receive state funds since the ban on their doing so came into force.

    "Little seems to have been done to ensure conformity to the new rules and the Department for Education (DfE) urgently needs to address this.

    "The funding is administered by local authorities and they do not seem to have the same awareness as the DfE as to which local authorities are implicated by such a ban.

    "As we have done in the past, we will be doing all we can to raise the issue with relevant officials to ensure that the ban on funding is properly implemented."


  10. All pupils at non faith schools must study atheism judge rules

    All non-faith schools will be forced to teach non-religious views following a landmark judgment by the High Court that ruled the Education Secretary unlawfully excluded atheism from a new GCSE

    By Javier Espinoza, Education Editor The Telegraph November 25, 2016

    All non-faith schools will be forced to teach non-religious views following a landmark judgment by the High Court that ruled the Education Secretary unlawfully excluded atheism from a new GCSE.

    The decision was met with fierce opposition by religious groups which argued "humanistic ideas already dominate the rest of the curriculum", while teachers warned a slow official response might risk wasting valuable teaching time and resources.

    The ruling was a victory for three families, supported by the British Humanist Association, who claimed Nicky Morgan had taken a "skewed" approach and was failing to reflect in schools the pluralistic nature of the UK.

    Allowing their application for judicial review, Mr Justice Warby, sitting in London, ruled there had been "a breach of the duty to take care that information or knowledge included in the curriculum is conveyed in a pluralistic manner".

    Changes to Religious Studies GCSE subject content were announced last February, leading to complaints over the priority given to religious views - in particular Buddhism, Christianity, Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. David Wolfe QC, for the three families, told the judge at a recent hearing there was widespread concern "about the Secretary of State's failure to comply with her duty of neutrality and impartiality as between religious and other beliefs".

    Ruling in favour of the humanists, the judge said the Education Secretary "has made an error of law in her interpretation of the education statutes". Following the judgement, the Government is expected to work alongside pressure groups to make sure changes are introduced.

    However, the Department for Education last night insisted the Religious Studies GCSE "ensures pupils understand the diversity of religious beliefs in Great Britain" by letting pupils choose the study of both religious and non-religious views.

    Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said: "Humanistic ideas already dominate the rest of the curriculum as it is. Why can't humanists leave RE alone? It's one of the subjects where students are encouraged to think positively about religion.

    Children don't have to learn about maths in history lessons, so why do they have to learn about atheism in religious education?
    Anne Heavey, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the Government needed to provide a swift response on the possible changes of the curriculum or it risked "chaos" in schools.

    She said: "Both the Government and the awarding bodies need to respond fully and quickly to this. Otherwise this will lead to great confusion among teachers. This is likely to waste valuable teaching time."

    A DfE spokesman said: “Our new RS GCSE ensures pupils understand the diversity of religious beliefs in Great Britain through the study of more than one religion, an important part of our drive to tackle segregation and ensure pupils are properly prepared for life in modern Britain.

    “It is also designed to ensure pupils develop knowledge and understanding of both religious and non-religious beliefs.

    “Today’s judgment does not challenge the content or structure of that new GCSE and the judge has been clear it is in no way unlawful. His decision will also not affect the current teaching of the RS GCSE in classrooms.

    “We will carefully consider the judgment before deciding on our next steps.”