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Feds fund religious promotion of evolution

In a turning of tables, two defenders of evolution in academia are being sued for spending more than $500,000 of federal money on a website that encourages teachers to use religion to promote Darwin’s theory.

California parent Jeanne Caldwell filed the suit yesterday against the National Science Foundation and the University of California at Berkeley.

“In this stunning example of hypocrisy, the same people who so loudly proclaim that they oppose discussion of religion in science classes are clamoring for public school teachers to expressly use theology in order to convince students to support evolution,” said Larry Caldwell, president of Quality Science Education for All, who is co-counsel in the suit with the Pacific Justice Institute.

As WorldNetDaily reported, Caldwell also has filed a civil-rights lawsuit in federal court against the Roseville Joint Union High School District and school officials in Sacramento, Calif., alleging his constitutional rights to free speech, equal protection and religious freedom were violated when he was prevented from introducing a curriculum that includes some of the scientific weaknesses of Darwin’s theory of evolution in biology classes, without introducing religious content.

In April, Caldwell sued the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education claiming an article by director Eugenie Scott contained numerous factual misstatements and libeled him in an effort to discredit efforts to promote his curriculum.

The website at the center of the current lawsuit, called “Understanding Evolution,” directs teachers to doctrinal statements by 17 religious denominations and groups endorsing evolutionary theory.

A statement by the United Church of Christ, for example, declares that evolution is consistent with “the revelation and presence of … God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.”

The website further suggests classroom activities that explicitly use religion to promote evolution, the lawsuit asserts.

In one suggested activity, teachers are to share with students statements by religious leaders on evolution, but only those “stress[ing] the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution.”

In another activity, students are assigned to interview ministers about their views on evolution, with the purpose of showing students “Evolution is OK!”

Teachers are cautioned, however, that this particular activity may not work if they live in a community that is “conservative Christian.”

“While the government has a legitimate purpose in educating students about the science of evolution, it’s outrageous that tax dollars would be spent to indoctrinate students into a particular religious view of evolution,” said plaintiff Jeanne Caldwell.

“There are many different religious views about evolution,” she added. “How dare the government tell students which religious view is correct! This is propaganda, not education.”

The lawsuit alleges the state and federal government are promoting religious beliefs to minor school children through the website in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … .”

The suit seeks to remove “these government endorsed religious beliefs” from the website.

The lawsuit also alleges the website is being used to further the religious agenda of Scott’s National Center for Science Education, which has a “long history of religious advocacy” on the evolution issue.

According to the suit, the NCSE, which helped design the website, provides religious “outreach” programs and “preaching” on evolution to churches, all aimed at convincing people of faith that there is no conflict between their religious beliefs and evolution.

“It turns out that the NCSE and its allies in the scientific and educational establishments don’t mind having religious beliefs discussed in science class, as long as those discussions are aimed at convincing students to convert to the religious beliefs favored by the NCSE,” said attorney Caldwell. “Their willingness to flagrantly violate students’ constitutionally protected religious freedoms in order to sell evolution to our children is the height of hypocrisy.”

Related stories:

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Darwin-only challenger claims libel

Parent sues district on Darwin-only rule