Lawsuit Contends Teaching Science Violates Religious Freedom

On June 11, 2013, the State Board of Education in Kansas adopted a universal set of science standards to be taught in classrooms across the state from kindergarten to grade 12. Faith groups have filed lawsuits challenging the decision.

This is from a press release of 9/26/2013 from the Pacific Justice Institute (“a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights”):

Families across Kansas became one step closer, today, to protecting their children from forced atheistic teaching in their public school system. Pacific Justice Institute filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the State Board of Education’s (BOE) adoption of certain science standards which would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith. The standards being challenged are the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the BOE June 11, 2013, and the corresponding Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.

In addition to citing numerous areas of law that the standards violate, the complaint cites that the standards cause the state “to promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”

If the complete injunction against implementation of the standards is not granted, the complaint requests an alternative injunction that would stop these standards for grades K-8, and would allow the standards for grades 9-12 as long as the standards are objective “so as to produce a religiously neutral effect with respect to theistic and non-theistic religion.”

Another group, COPE (“Citizens for Objective [sic] Public Education”) also filed a complaint, alleging:

…the Kansas Board’s adoption on June 11, 2013, of A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (the F&S) will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

John H. Calvert, counsel for the plaintiffs, stated that “this case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic/atheistic.”

1331141782-what_s_the_matter_with_kansas

Ironically, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson regarded their greatest achievement to be “their role in establishing a secular government whose legislators would never be required, or permitted, to rule on the legality of theological views.” Their vehement efforts to keep religion out of government gained added impetus after Virginia’s Patrick Henry introduced a bill in 1784 calling for state support for “teachers of the Christian religion.” As Kenneth C. Davis reports:

James Madison stepped into the breach. In a carefully argued essay titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” the soon-to-be father of the Constitution eloquently laid out reasons why the state had no business supporting Christian instruction. Signed by some 2,000 Virginians, Madison’s argument became a fundamental piece of American political philosophy, a ringing endorsement of the secular state that “should be as familiar to students of American history as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” as Susan Jacoby has written in Freethinkers, her excellent history of American secularism.”

Guess it’s not so fundamental after all….

James Madison in 1783 (age 32) by Charles Willson Peale

James Madison in 1783 (age 32) by Charles Willson Peale

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