Judge: Evolution stickers unconstitutional

  1. Judge: Evolution stickers unconstitutional
    Markers in science textbooks violated church-state separation


    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, has ruled that a suburban county school district's textbook stickers referring to evolution as "a theory not a fact" are unconstitutional.

    In ruling that the stickers violate the constitutionally mandated separation between church and state, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that labeling evolution a "theory" played on the popular definition of the word as a "hunch" and could confuse students.

    The stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

    The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in 2002.

    "Due to the manner in which the sticker refers to evolution as a theory, the sticker also has the effect of undermining evolution education to the benefit of those Cobb County citizens who would prefer that students maintain their religious beliefs regarding the origin of life," Cooper wrote in his ruling.

    Cooper said he was ruling on the "narrow issue" of the case, brought against the Cobb County School District and Board of Education by four parents of district students, was whether the district's stickers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

    His conclusion, he said, "is not that the school board should not have called evolution a theory or that the school board should have called evolution a fact."

    "Rather, the distinction of evolution as a theory rather than a fact is the distinction that religiously motivated individuals have specifically asked school boards to make in the most recent anti-evolution movement, and that was exactly what parents in Cobb County did in this case," he wrote.

    "By adopting this specific language, even if at the direction of counsel, the Cobb County School Board appears to have sided with these religiously motivated individuals."

    The sticker, he said, sends "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists."

    "The school board has effectively improperly entangled itself with religion by appearing to take a position," Cooper wrote. "Therefore, the sticker must be removed from all of the textbooks into which it has been placed."

    Five parents of students and the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the stickers in court, arguing they violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

    The case was heard in federal court last November. The school system defended the warning stickers as a show of tolerance, not religious activism as some parents claimed.

    "The Cobb County school board is doing more than accommodating religion," Michael Manely, an attorney for the parents, argued during the trial, according to a report from The Associated Press. "They are promoting religious dogma to all students."

    Lawyers for Cobb County, however, argued in court that the school board had made a good-faith effort to address questions that inevitably arise during the teaching of evolution.

    "Science and religion are related and they're not mutually exclusive," school district attorney Linwood Gunn said in an AP report. "This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science."

    According to the AP, the schools placed the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.


    Find this article at:
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/13/ev...ing/index.html
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    Gotta put a disclaimer sticker on those "round earth" history books, too .

    (sorry, couldn't help myself...)
  4. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from Nurse Ratched
    Gotta put a disclaimer sticker on those "round earth" history books, too .

    (sorry, couldn't help myself...)
  5. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from Nurse Ratched
    Gotta put a disclaimer sticker on those "round earth" history books, too .

    (sorry, couldn't help myself...)
    :chuckle Good one...
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    Posted on wrong thread. I apologize.

    Related to this topic:

    Any hunch about the "dinosaur bones"?
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Jan 13, '05
  7. by   URO-RN
    Quote from BeachNurse
    Judge: Evolution stickers unconstitutional
    Markers in science textbooks violated church-state separation


    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, has ruled that a suburban county school district's textbook stickers referring to evolution as "a theory not a fact" are unconstitutional.

    In ruling that the stickers violate the constitutionally mandated separation between church and state, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that labeling evolution a "theory" played on the popular definition of the word as a "hunch" and could confuse students.

    The stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

    The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in 2002.

    "Due to the manner in which the sticker refers to evolution as a theory, the sticker also has the effect of undermining evolution education to the benefit of those Cobb County citizens who would prefer that students maintain their religious beliefs regarding the origin of life," Cooper wrote in his ruling.

    Cooper said he was ruling on the "narrow issue" of the case, brought against the Cobb County School District and Board of Education by four parents of district students, was whether the district's stickers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

    His conclusion, he said, "is not that the school board should not have called evolution a theory or that the school board should have called evolution a fact."

    "Rather, the distinction of evolution as a theory rather than a fact is the distinction that religiously motivated individuals have specifically asked school boards to make in the most recent anti-evolution movement, and that was exactly what parents in Cobb County did in this case," he wrote.

    "By adopting this specific language, even if at the direction of counsel, the Cobb County School Board appears to have sided with these religiously motivated individuals."

    The sticker, he said, sends "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists."

    "The school board has effectively improperly entangled itself with religion by appearing to take a position," Cooper wrote. "Therefore, the sticker must be removed from all of the textbooks into which it has been placed."

    Five parents of students and the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the stickers in court, arguing they violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

    The case was heard in federal court last November. The school system defended the warning stickers as a show of tolerance, not religious activism as some parents claimed.

    "The Cobb County school board is doing more than accommodating religion," Michael Manely, an attorney for the parents, argued during the trial, according to a report from The Associated Press. "They are promoting religious dogma to all students."

    Lawyers for Cobb County, however, argued in court that the school board had made a good-faith effort to address questions that inevitably arise during the teaching of evolution.

    "Science and religion are related and they're not mutually exclusive," school district attorney Linwood Gunn said in an AP report. "This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science."

    According to the AP, the schools placed the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.


    Find this article at:
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/13/ev...ing/index.html
    Hmmm, the theory of evolution .

    What? people don't know what the meaning of "theory" is anymore.
  8. by   Roy Fokker
    You mean like the Theory of Gravity ?
  9. by   URO-RN
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    You mean like the Theory of Gravity ?
    I think that one has been proven fact.

    I have not seen anything in transition, nor has there been any fossils/specimens in transition. Those that claim to have found fossils in transition have been disproven by the same scientific community who believes evolution is fact.

    Evolution is not fact. It is a theory. If it is being taught as fact, sorry, that is incorrect.
  10. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from Jo Anne
    Evolution is not fact. It is a theory. If it is being taught as fact, sorry, that is incorrect.
    Then how do you explain anti-biotic drug resistance developed by microbes? That process highlights evolution beautifully.

    It is from "Natural" selection that we developed concepts that lead us to "artificial" selection - which we use now in animal and plant breeding programs. Scientists develop bacteria that are capable of degrading nylon - through selection processes.

    There maybe more than one theory to the origins of man but to claim that Evolution and Natural Selection aren't facts of life is incorrect
  11. by   Roy Fokker
    By the way, the "scientific" usage of the term "theory" differs from our common usage of the term.

    The scientific definition of theory would be "statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed". Nearly everything in biology and natural sciences is a "theory", because it can't be replicated in a scientific environment.

    But just because it is theory doesn't mean it hasn't been proven.
  12. by   SharonH, RN
    Thank......God .......for Judge Cooper. It took a lot of courage for him to make this decision and for the parents who brought the lawsuit to do so. Our state has endured a series of embarassments from the Christian right's attempts to force their agenda on the rest of us including the state school superintendent unilaterally deciding the word "evolution" would be completely removed from textbooks and replaced with the phrase "changes over time" . Thankfully, she changed her mind in the face of criticism but after she had shamed us. This whole sticker biz was just one more example of that.
  13. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    By the way, the "scientific" usage of the term "theory" differs from our common usage of the term.

    The scientific definition of theory would be "statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed". Nearly everything in biology and natural sciences is a "theory", because it can't be replicated in a scientific environment.

    But just because it is theory doesn't mean it hasn't been proven.

    Roy, you rock!
  14. by   URO-RN
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    Then how do you explain anti-biotic drug resistance developed by microbes? That process highlights evolution beautifully.

    It is from "Natural" selection that we developed concepts that lead us to "artificial" selection - which we use now in animal and plant breeding programs. Scientists develop bacteria that are capable of degrading nylon - through selection processes.

    There maybe more than one theory to the origins of man but to claim that Evolution and Natural Selection aren't facts of life is incorrect
    We can discuss this until the cows come home, but to answer your first q:
    microbes may be resistant to antibiotics, yet there are still microbes. They have not "evolutionized" to anything. Science has yet to see them grow legs and a head in a petri dish.
    Science my tweek DNA, in certain microbes, but that does not prove that these microbes have gone through the process of evolution.
    That evolution is fact is incorrect in my opinion.
    So, I must respectfully disagree with your opinion.

    Later, gotta take my kids out to eat.

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