A Christian group of parents across the state of Kansas concerned by public schools teaching evolution to children as young as five years old has filed a federal lawsuit.
In June, the Kansas State Board of Education joined 25 other states which had developed new standards for kindergarten through 12th grade along with the National Research Council. These standards treat evolution and climate change as given concepts that should be taught to the students.
The Christian group, based in Peck, south of Wichita, believes that the new standards not only violate students’ and parents’ religious freedom, as the teaching of evolution as fact is not a proven fact, but also ultimately guide students toward atheism.
The families filing the lawsuit say they want to make sure that their children know “life is a creation made for a purpose.” John Calvert, an attorney working for the families, said, “The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it… By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution. By the time you’re in middle school, you’re a Darwinist.”
The lawsuit was filed against the state board, Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker, and the state Department of Education. It argues that the public schools encourage a “non-theistic religious worldview” because they would only accept “materialistic” or “atheistic” explanations to scientific questions, especially about how the world and universe were created. It accuses the state of “indoctrinating” youngsters, thus violating the First Amendment, which guarantees religious freedom.
Calvert has been fighting against the blind acceptance of evolution for years; he was a founder of the Intelligent Design Network, which avers that evolution could not explain the complexity of life that has flowered on Earth.
Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director for the Oakland, California-based National Center for Science Education, sneered that Calvert has been trying for years and “no one in the legal community has put much stock in it… They’re trying to say anything that’s not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion.” He called the argument against evolution “silly.”
In the last 15 years, Kansas has run through six different science standards as the battle against evolution has waxed and waned. The lawsuit is willing to accept the teaching of evolution once children reach high school.
Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas’s science education center, said, “This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get.”