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Creationism to be Outlawed in California's Private Schools?

Teaching science in a Christian context in California's private schools will soon be illegal if disturbing actions taken by California's Department of Education are not overruled. This "Scopes in reverse" is alarming educators in California and throughout the United States who fear that there is little now to stop the state from going into private Christian schools to declare that their science classes, or possibly their degrees, are invalid in California if the schools espouse creation.

The Education Department's first target is the graduate school of the Institute for Creation Research, which had been offering (with state "approval") masters' degrees in four science fields since 1981. On March 16, 1990, the Department of Education denied ICR reapproval of its license to teach, effectively ordering the school to close. Earlier in the year, the Department issued a science framework document that declared evolution to be the only scientific theory to be taught in California's public schools. Now, observers see the ICR situation as a test case in the Department's additional crusade to remove creationism from all private schools that teach creation as a valid scientific alternative to evolution.

"The Education Department's actions toward ICR, whose school, by the way, receives no state or federal monies, are outrageous, unconscionable, and unconstitutional in our free society, and we will appeal," declared Dr. Henry Morris, President of ICR. "We are a private school with a quality program and a distinguished science faculty, and we have the right to teach a creation model of origins to students who choose to come here."

A deeply concerned Dr. Paul Kienel, Executive Director of A.C.S.I. (Association of Christian Schools International), related to ICR the following exchange he had with Bill Honig, State Superintendent of Public Instruction: "I asked Mr. Honig if Christian high schools that teach creation could continue to grant science credits that could be transferred to public schools or accepted by state colleges. All he answered was that it hasn't been a problem yet.'"

Dr. Morris of ICR challenged the Department's citing of the 1987 Supreme Court decision overturning Louisiana's balanced treatment law -- which mandated the teaching of creation in the state's public classrooms -- as justification for silencing creationism in California. First, said Dr. Morris, the Court case involved Louisiana's public schools not private; second, the court did not rule on the scientific validity of creationism (as the Department contends) -- it merely declared that the state could not mandate that creation be taught; third, the court ruled that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind...might be validly done."

"The future of academic freedom, religious freedom, and free speech in California's Christians schools is at stake and must be defended," declared Dr. Morris, "and Christian education is in jeopardy everywhere if the Department succeeds in its heavy-handed maneuvers." ICR


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