January 20, 2004
It is illegal to ban the teaching of Darwin in USA state schools

In a comment thread provoked by a posting about the French school head-scarf ban (of interest to readers here in its own right of course), the somewhat tangential but interesting matter of whether Christian religious fundamentalism deranges the teaching of biology in the USA was raised. llamas commented thus:

Both claims – that evolution may not be taught, and/or that Creationism is mandated to be taught on an equal footing with evolution – are specifically outlawed by US Supreme Court decision. Epperson v Arkansas, 1968, Freiler vs Tangipahoa Board of Education, 1997, and Epperson v Arkansas, 1987.

Every time somebody tries one of these 'creation-science' stunts, it gets lots of media time, and, no doubt, self-satisfied tut-tutting from the more-enlightened French. Noone ever reports what happens the next day, when the lawyers call, and the proposed policy is ditched because it is so self-evidently against the law. This is a popular election-time stunt in some parts of the country, where a candidate seeks to curry favour with a tiny minority of fundamentalist Christians. For example, Kansas Board of Education, about 2 years ago. Everyone reported what the Board said it was going to do. Noone reported the injunctions that prevented them from doing it. And it never happened.

There's more in a similar vein, and that was the point of view which carried the argument.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 04:44 PM
Category: Science