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Introducation
Definitions
Religion vs. Science
First Amendment & Religious Explanations of Creation
Promoting Religious Explanations in Public Schools
Harming Religious Education
Conclusion

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Civil Rights  
Religious Doctrine in the Science Classroom;
Putting Education & Religious Freedom at Risk
RULE
Introduction

Creationism, creation science, and intelligent design are religious explanations for the origins of humankind and the universe. Recent efforts to teach these ideas in our public schools as science – either along side or in place of evolution – have sparked considerable controversy across our nation.

Americans have the absolute right to prefer religious explanations for creation. However, because such beliefs are not scientific theories based on observation, experiment, and evidence, they provide an inappropriate and legally impermissible foundation for science instruction in the public school classroom.

The First Amendment mandates the separation of church and state. This principle means that government institutions, including public schools, are prohibited from promoting religion or religious beliefs. For this reason, religious explanations of creation cannot be part of the public school science curriculum. But nor should these ideas be forever banned from the public school classroom. Provided that they are discussed in the proper context – i.e., as part of an objective survey of religious or philosophical views on creation – these explanations need not threaten the important distinction between matters of faith and matters of government.

In fact, this approach makes sense and is ultimately good for religion because it leaves religious instruction to parents and to properly trained clergy. It also keeps government out of religious controversies, preserves quality science education, and ensures that public school classrooms remain hospitable to an ethnically diverse and religiously pluralistic society.

Yet many proponents of religious explanations for creation vigorously oppose these well-balanced rules. Disregarding the potential harm to religious pluralism and public school science education, they have renewed their efforts to persuade our nation’s public schools to teach these ideas either along side or in place of evolution. This has triggered conflict within school boards, local communities, and state legislatures.

Other Materials about Freedom of Religion
School Vouchers
First Amendment Primer
Charitable Choice
Faith and Freedom: 
The Case for Separation of Church-State
Religion in The Public Schools
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