.- The small Dover area School District is taking on the ACLU in a lawsuit brought upon the district over a clarification in their 9th grade biology curriculum which briefly informs students of gaps in the theory of evolution and makes them aware of the alternative intelligent design theory as explanation for origins of life on earth.
The school district is being represented by the St. Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who filed papers yesterday asking the court to rule in Dover’s favor.
The school district has tried to clarify that they do not teach intelligent design, creationism or any religious content in their science classes in accord with its policies and state regulations. Rather, the Darwinian theory of evolution is the only curriculum officially taught.
Supporters say that the district opted to include the brief clarification noting that evolution is a theory, not proven fact, to help students in their full range of learning.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, stated, “This minor change to Dover’s science curriculum was simply a modest step by a small-town school board to improve the science education of its students.”
“This controversy”, he said, “is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. The Founders of this country would be astonished at the thought that this simple curriculum change ‘established religion’ in violation of the Constitution that they drafted. ”
In December, the ACLU and the group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State brought the lawsuit against the school district at the behest of a number of Dover parents.
Robert Muise however, a trial counsel with the Michigan Law Center, said that, “the ACLU has used the Establishment Clause to remove from public life anything that they perceive to be favorable to religion, including prayer, the Ten Commandments, Nativity scenes, and other symbols associated with religion.”
“Now,” he said, “they seek to employ this constitutional provision to silence criticism of the theory of evolution and to prevent students from learning about alternatives to Darwin’s theory, including preventing students from simply being told that such alternatives exist. Even the recent Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution, which tend to be hostile to religion, do not go this far.”