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Separation of sticker and state

Suggesting that evolution is a theory rather than fact endorses religion and causes anguish among impressionable school children in an Atlanta suburb, at least in the opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper.

On Thursday, the Clinton-appointed district judge dove head first into the evolution versus intelligent design debate by ordering the Cobb County Board of Education to remove a sticker from science textbooks stating that “evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things.” Added by the school board in 2002 to be more inclusive of differing beliefs regarding human origins, the sticker concludes by suggesting that evolutionary instruction “be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before atheists began experiencing concern (perhaps we should call it theophobia) that school children might actually seek alternatives to evolution to account for origins of the human species. Michael Newdow wannabe Jeffrey Selman, accompanied by four other plaintiffs and the ever-present American Civil Liberties Union, sued the school district under the contention that the sticker violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Georgia Constitution.

Their rationale for the lawsuit raises some interesting questions. Can a sticker that never mentions the words Creator or creationism be construed to endorse intelligent design? Can stating a fact (namely, that evolution is only theory, a reality conceded by many evolutionists themselves) be somehow tied to religious extremism? Can merely implying that there might be other theories to account for mankind’s origins establish a state-sponsored religion?

Apparently, Judge Cooper thinks so.

The Judge declares in his ruling that an “informed, reasonable observer would understand the school board to be endorsing the viewpoint of Christian fundamentalists and creationists that evolution is a problematic theory lacking an adequate foundation.” How can a sticker that comes nowhere near to specifically backing creationism or debunking evolution accomplish this, one might ask? According to Judge Cooper, it does this by somehow conveying “an impermissible message of endorsement” and by telling “some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling others that they are political insiders.”

That’s a central theme of Judge Cooper’s rationale. To avoid offending the small number of atheistic children in public schools, every possible vestige of God or religion must be wiped away, including any insinuation that there just might be legitimate theories on origin aside from evolution. Forget about the vast majority of Jewish, Christian and Islamic students who believe in alternative origin theories – the all-important goal is to appease atheists.

There’s only one problem with such judicial logic: The Georgia Constitution itself creates “an impermissible message of endorsement” in its preamble by entreating the people to rely “upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God.” That sounds pretty close to a theistic, creationist view to me. Is Judge Cooper now planning to declare the constitution of his own state unconstitutional for public schools?

If evolutionary theory is sound as a whistle, why is Judge Cooper so terrified at the prospect of school children pursuing alternate theories? Alternate lifestyles are a boon to civilization, but not alternate theories on origin? How does offering creation science alongside evolution dilute and denigrate the viewpoint, unless the theory already has holes in it? Liberalism is advertised as the political philosophy of diversity. Why not be inclusive of all views?

The reason is simple. The prevailing judicial philosophy in America is that some views are acceptable within our modern society, while others are not. An evolutionary perspective that declares life meaningless and establishes man as the final moral arbiter is considered objective and scientifically based. As a result, nothing else should be taught in public schools. On the other side of the coin, creationism is based on emotion and ignorance and therefore should be shielded from impressionable young minds.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same standard used by communist tyrants to discredit Christians or others who believe in an Authority above government as “second-class citizens,” which is always a precursor to outright persecution. Cooper is quick to condemn the Cobb County School District for using stickers that create a class of “political outsiders,” but he conveniently ignores the inferiority experienced by theists when they read the hundreds of pages devoted to evolution in the textbook, all of which denigrate their core philosophy.

That trend is the symptom of a growing problem. Theists are continually being relegated to second-class citizenship in favor of a minority of atheists and humanists in society today. While Judge Cooper’s decision might seem insignificant, it raises an interesting question: When will government-sponsored discrimination against theists end, and, more importantly, who will stop it before it leads to outright persecution?

David N. Bass is a 19-year-old Christian homeschool graduate who writes for World Newspaper Publishing and is a regular columnist at AmericanDaily.com, IntellectualConservative.com and RenewAmerica.us. While attending college, he interns at a pro-family public-policy organization. Bass is currently working on his first novel.