SCRANTON, December 21, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Judge John Jones, of the District Court for the middle district of Pennsylvania, has ruled that the Dover school district violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, usually called “separation of Church and State,” by allowing their schools to teach so-called “intelligent design” (ID) as an alternative to Darwinian evolution.
The school board statement on evolution that was read out in ninth grade science classes at Dover high school in November 2004, said, “The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence…Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view…With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families.” The ACLU and the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State responded by launching a suit.
The court’s ruling says,Â“We permanently (enjoin) Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.”
In his opinion, Judge Jones said that the supporters of ID were driven by religious beliefs and not by the evidence. “We do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors.”
The idea that ID is a theologically based religious doctrine peculiar to Christianity is one that is popular in the left-leaning media. Judge Jones upheld this idea in his decision calling the school board’s decision “inane.” Based on the assumption that ID is a religious doctrine, Jones wrote, “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”
The theory’s proponents are at pains to point out, however, those defending the supremacy of Darwinian materialism are themselves suffering from a prejudice.
Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, one of the leading groups exploring ID, responded to the ruling with outrage. He said that the judge “totally misrepresents intelligent design. “The Dover decision is an attempt by an activist federal judge to stop the spread of a scientific idea and even to prevent criticism of Darwinian evolution through government-imposed censorship rather than open debate, and it won’t work,” West said.
In related news, a court in Kentucky has ruled unanimously that the Ten Commandments could not be removed from a display of historical documents in the Mercer county courthouse rejecting the ACLU’s argument that the display violated the First Amendment.
Circuit Judge Suhrheinrich wrote in his decision that the ACLU’s “repeated reference ‘to the separation of church and state’ . . . has grown tiresome.Â The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”
The court said that a reasonable person could appreciate “the role religion has played in our governmental institutions, and finds it historically appropriate and traditionally acceptable for a state to include religious influences, even in the form of sacred texts, in honoring American traditions.”
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of American Center for Law and Justice, the law firm opposing the suit said, “For too long they have been lectured like children by those in the ACLU and elsewhere who claim to know what the people’s Constitution really means…the Court recognizes that the Constitution does not require that we strip the public square of all vestiges of our religious heritage and traditions.”
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