Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Court rejects 'intelligent design' in science class

Six-week trial drew national attention

A federal judge said on Tuesday the teaching of intelligent design by Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools. Judge John Jones, in a 139-page ruling, said, "The defendant's ID (intelligent design) policy violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."

Jones banned the school district from any future implementation of the policy in Dover schools. The district was sued by a group of 11 parents who claimed the intelligent design policy was unconstitutional and unscientific and had no place in science classrooms. CNN has the details.

Related: How intelligent design works

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Len said...

We will likely see more of this in the near future. Anything to do with God (Christian God) is becoming increasingly unpopular. I think we are moving toward the elimination of any religious curriculums in public schools and private too unless it is a religion-based school.

Deb Sistrunk said...

Len, I think you are right. Several years ago, I started sitting my children down to root them in what our belief systems. I told them that if they were taught something in class that conflicted with our beliefs - to just consider it coursework. I told my kids not to embrace, but emphasized that they still needed to learn the material as part of their overall classwork.

For our family, it worked. My children have never been confused. They have continued to grow spiritually and academically.
It's important for parents to recognize that they are their children's first teacher.

Len said...

You are so right, the foundation begins at home.

I think it was wise of you to teach your children in that manner.

Jaimie said...

This is not surprising that it was banned.

I've been hearing that we can't say "under God" anymore in the pledge. Anyone know if this has passed or not? I still say it in my classroom-I hope I'm not doing something illegal.

DCS said...

Jaimie: Relax. If the words "under God" were removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, your superintendent would notify schools immediately - after hearing from the U.S. Department of Education, your state board of education, and your district's attorneys. The move would also make headline news.

I don't think President Bush, Congress, or the U.S. Supreme Court would want to take on that can of worms unless they were forced to. Then they'd have to look at other stuff with "God" on it - the U.S. Constitution and American currency, for starters.

Len said...
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Len said...

I remember what Jaimie is referring to I believe it was last year, that an atheist named Michael Newdow went to the Supreme Court to argue his case for removal of "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. He did not win his case. However, I read that he got rave reviews and applause during his presentation. One praise particularly was from a veteran religious right attorney.

It reminded me of the atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. I doubt many people thought in 1964, she would be successful in having prayer removed from schools. I was still in school when she won that case. In 1978, she also tried to have the motto "In God We Trust" removed from American currency. The Court ruled that the slogan "served a secular purpose" and "did not advance religion."

DCS said...

Len: Thank you for taking the time to provide this background info. I applaud Jaimie's professionalism for wanting to stay on top of the issue. Len, you are, indeed, right about last year's court decision.

In June of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a California father, Michael Newdow, could not challenge the Pledge of Allegiance.

The high court reversed a lower-court decision that teacher-led recitation of the pledge in public schools is unconstitutional.

The case had been brought by Newdow, an atheist who did not want his third-grade daughter to have to listen to the phrase "under God" in the oath.

The court's decision, however, sidestepped the broader question of the separation of church and state.

The court said that Newdow did not have the legal standing to bring the case. Newdow, who was involved in a custody dispute with the mother of their third-grade daughter, could not speak for the girl, the court ruled.

In June of 2002, Newdow won his first lawsuit against the Pledge of Allegiance. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. Congress added the phrase "under God" to the pledge in 1954.

The ruling created a firestorm across most of the nation and especially on Capitol Hill. The Senate was so outraged that it passed a resolution 99-0 expressing full support for the Pledge of Allegiance. The Senate also voted 99-0 to recodify the "under God" language in the pledge. The only one not voting was Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, who was ill.

Meanwhile, Gray Davis, California governor at the time, resolved that his state would take action to overturn the decision.

Jaimie and Len, thanks to both of you for shedding light on legal issues our schools face.