Christian groups filed a pair of lawsuits in Federal District Court challenging the Kansas state Board of Education’s decision to implement a state-wide set of science standards. On June 11, the Kansas state Board of Education adopted a universal set of science standards to be taught in classrooms across the state from kindergarten to grade 12. Faith groups are up in arms that their beliefs are not being given more credence in science classes.
According to a statement on the Pacific Justice Institute’s website, the teaching of science in all of the state’s public schools could create “a hostile learning environment for those of faith.” The institute — which purports to defend “religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties” — is challenging the fact that the new science standards do not give equal weight to the Christian creation myth.
The suit alleges that the new standards will “promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.” The group asked the court to place an injunction on the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards and the corresponding lesson plan handbook, Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.
Another group, the Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE, Inc.) filed suit on Sep. 26 demanding that the new curricula not be instituted. In a press release, CORE said that the science standards would “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview,” which the group said is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Brad Dachus of Pacific Justice complained that is a violation of a child’s rights to teach them that Creationism isn’t the truth.
“(I)t’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students — as young as five — to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong,” he said.
He maintained that to teach science “that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”
COPE, Inc. said that the science standards have a “concealed Orthodoxy” that is bent on undermining the views of the faithful.
“The Orthodoxy is not religiously neutral as it permits only materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions,” said the group’s statement. The group maintained that questions like “Where do we come from?” can only be answered honestly by religious dogma.
The statement went on to say that “teaching the materialistic/atheistic ideas to primary school children whose minds are susceptible to blindly accepting them as true” is unconstitutional and dangerous, and therefore the new science standards must be stopped.
[image of angry young religious man via Shutterstock.com]