This White House Petition Will Anger The Christian Right, So Let’s All Sign It

creationism

In Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, New Hampshire, Texas, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, and several other states, Republicans have pushed bills that would force schools to teach creationism as an accepted science. Not just any form of creationism, the Christian version of creationism found in the Bible. In response to this effort, a petition has been started on the White House website calling for a federal ban on teaching creationism in school.

The petition states that:

“Since Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, scientists all around the world have found monumental amounts of evidence in favor of the theory, now treated as scientific fact by 99.9% of all scientists.

However, even after 150 years after the establishment of evolution, some schools across the US are “teaching the controversy,” including Creationism and Intelligent Design. Both of these so-called “theories” have no basis in scientific fact, and have absolutely zero evidence pointing towards these conjectures. These types of loopholes in our education are partially to blame for our dangerously low student performances in math and science.

Therefore, we petition the Obama Adminstration to ban the teachings of these conjectures that contradict Evolution.”

As noble an effort as this petition is, any federal law banning the teaching of creationism in public schools would have to go through Congress. However, the White House could cut federal funding from states that try to teach creationism in schools and could certainly call on Congress to pass such a ban. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has already ruled against the teaching of creationism in schools, as has other federal courts over the years.

Nevertheless, the petition represents a movement that Americans can get behind to voice their opposition to GOP efforts to force religion upon our kids. Creationism is a religious theory that has zero scientific evidence backing it. Evolution, on the other hand, is supported by multitudes of evidence, scientists, and even religious organizations who also decry the teaching of creationism in science classes.

For example, just about every scientific society, representing hundreds of thousands of scientists, disputes the claim that evolution is full of holes. In 1986, 72 Nobel Prize winners submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the teaching of evolutionary biology over creationism. In fact, advocates of creationism have lost in court battle after court battle. Here’s a short list of rulings against creationism:

1968 Epperson v. Arkansas, United States Supreme Court

1981 Segraves v. State of California, Supreme Court of California

1982 McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, U.S. Federal Court

1987 Edwards v. Aguillard, United States Supreme Court

1990 Webster v. New Lenox School District, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

1994 Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

1997 Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

2000 Rodney LeVake v Independent School District 656, et al., District Court for the Third Judicial District of the State of Minnesota

2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, US Federal Court

2006 Hurst v. Newman, US District Court Eastern District of California

Even religious organizations reject teaching creationism in the school system. In the 1982 case, McClean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 12 of the plaintiffs opposing teaching creationism in school were clergy members representing several religions, including Catholics and Southern Baptists. According to the National Center for Science Education:

“Of Americans in the twelve largest Christian denominations, at least 77% belong to churches that support evolution education and that at one point, this figure was as high as 89.6%.”

The great majority of scientists, that is to say nearly all of them, reject creationism on scientific grounds. A 2009 Pew Poll found that 87 percent of scientists support evolution and 97 percent say all living things on earth have evolved over time. Even as far back as 1987, nearly all scientists accepted evolution as scientific fact rather than some faulty theory. That report by Newsweek found that out of a total of nearly half a million U.S. earth and life scientists, only a mere 700, or 0.15 percent, give any attention to creationism.

All of the current efforts by Republicans to establish creationism in schools stems from a 2001 amendment that Rick Santorum attempted to attach to the No Child Left Behind Act when he was in the Senate. His amendment was soundly defeated but state Republicans have used the language to push similar bills. These efforts, as evidenced by the many court rulings lists above, are totally unconstitutional, as they wrongfully force teachers to teach the Biblical story of creation as scientific fact against the wills of teachers and students who are non-believers or followers of different religious teachings. The only place creationism belongs is in the church or in the homes of Christians who choose to tell their kids about the story. Other than that, conservative Christians have no right to force children to learn religious doctrine against their wills and that of their parents. Americans are already falling behind in the scientific arena. Adding creationism will only make science scores worse than they already are because it would be a distraction to learning real science.

The petition itself may not succeed to bring about the federal ban it calls for, but it can be very powerful if enough Americans add their voice to it. The petition would send a message to Republicans that their effort to force schools to teach creationism as accepted science is roundly rejected by the American people and may make them think twice before introducing creationism bills in the future. And at the very least, it may prevent state legislatures from even considering such bills.