The American Civil Liberties Union has warned a southwest Kansas school district against holding mandatory student assemblies that feature a creationist group.
"Teaching or otherwise promoting creationism is, simply put, unlawful," the ACLU wrote in a letter to Hugoton Public Schools superintendent Mark Crawford on Friday. "As the District is surely aware, the 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 take."
Hugoton Public Schools invited Creation Truth Foundation's founder Dr. G. Thomas Sharp to teach the "Truth about Dinosaurs" at two assemblies next week. At least one of the assemblies will be mandatory for all students and teachers.
The group has created teaching materials "explaining the origins, extinction and possible existence of dinosaurs" from a Biblical view and believes the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex walked the Earth as early as 100,000 years ago rather more than 65 million years ago. In a lecture uploaded to YouTube last year, Sharp criticized scientists for ignoring the great flood of the Bible.
"We respectfully request the District take immediate and concrete steps to remedy these problems," the ACLU concluded. "The first step would be to cancel the planned mandatory school assemblies now set for next week."
However, superintendent Crawford has said he will not call off the assemblies. He told The Kansas City Star the assemblies will not promote creationism, despite the beliefs and mission of the Creation Truth Foundation.
"I agree with the ACLU, in that, if a mandatory all-school assembly where creationist truths or creationist beliefs were expressed, that would be inappropriate public-school content, and that is not the case," Crawford said. "It's completely and totally school appropriate."
[Tyrannosaurus rex fossil via Shutterstock]