Teaching scientific creationism in Post Falls schools would violate the First Amendment and the Idaho Constitution, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote to the school district.
“‘Equal time’ is an attractive concept, at least until one considers historical problems of mixing church and state,” wrote Jack Van Valkenburgh, executive director of the ACLU in Boise.
The March 5 letter was addressed to superintendent Dick Harris.
“Creation science exists only in the ambiance of religious faith, i.e. a belief that does not rest on logic or on evidence,” Van Valkenburgh wrote, adding that the government should not promote religion.
Two men, Kevin Krieg and Ted Corder, have proposed teaching scientific creationism on equal footing with evolutionary theory in the schools. Their proposal does not encourage teaching religion, the men have said.
Case law makes it illegal to teach creationism only when there is a religious intent, Krieg said.
“The legal and constitutional basis for denying teaching creation is based on intent and the materials used in that teaching,” he said, explaining that no religion would be advocated and no religious texts would be used.
Krieg and Corder have stated they only want an open discussion on the origins of humanity and an examination of scientific evidence on both sides of the debate.
The ACLU will watch what happens in the Post Falls district, Van Valkenburgh said, and would like to provide the school board with materials explaining the constitutional requirement that religion and public schools not mix.
“No matter how they phrase it, they’re promoting a doctrine that forecloses scientific inquiry,” Van Valkenburgh said. “The bottom line is that it is a teaching that requires faith.”