Court smacks down Kansas Christians for labeling evolution a religion to force school ban
A federal court rejected the argument from a Christian group in Kansas which said that evolution was religious “indoctrination” and should not be taught in schools.
After the state of Kansas adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) argued that teaching science without a religious explanation for the creation of the universe would indoctrinate children into atheism.
COPE said that teaching evolution took children “into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause and nature of life and the universe – ‘where do we come from?’”
“The purpose of the indoctrination is to establish the religious Worldview, not to deliver to an age appropriate audience an objective and religiously neutral origins science education that seeks to inform,” the group insisted.
But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver last week upheld a lower court’s ruling which said that COPE lacked standing to bring the suit because it could not show that it had been harmed.
“COPE does not offer any facts to support the conclusion that the Standards condemn any religion or send a message of endorsement,” the court decision stated. “And any fear of biased instruction is premised on COPE’s predictions of school districts’ responses to the Standards—an attempt by COPE to recast a future injury as a present one.”
In a statement, Americans United for Separation of Church and State said that COPE feared that scientific facts would cause “Kansas schoolchildren will be subtly manipulated into rejecting their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“It’s a nonsensical argument, which is why courts have unanimously rejected it,” Americans United said. “COPE, it seems, isn’t interested in promoting facts; it’s interested in forcing public schools to conduct far-right religious and political indoctrination.”
The statement added: “[COPE] can send their children to private, religious schools, they can homeschool or they can offer supplemental instruction at home. But they aren’t entitled to a sectarian education on the public dime or to insist on policies that dumb-down every other child’s education.”
Ars Technicha pointed out that the 10th Circuit included a footnote in its ruling, stating that it would have found COPE’s remedy that creationism to be taught alongside evolution to be unconstitutional based on a 1987 Supreme Court ruling in the Edwards v. Aguillard case.