ACLU of Arkansas Action Results in Removal of Evolution Disclaimers From Science Textbooks

Affiliate: ACLU of Arkansas
February 10, 2005 12:00 am

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LITTLE ROCK, AR--Following action by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, the Beebe School District today agreed to remove stickers it had placed in science textbooks undermining the validity of evolution and introducing the religious concept of an "intelligent designer" behind the origin of life. After receiving complaints about the stickers from community members, the ACLU wrote a letter to the superintendent of the school district demanding that the stickers be removed.

"We commend the Beebe School District for avoiding unnecessary and costly litigation in this matter," said ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar. "However, we are concerned that these stickers may be present in textbooks around the state, as they are the latest attempt to undermine science and bring creationism back into public schools. We would be happy to talk to the Arkansas Department of Education to provide legal guidance on this issue."

The Beebe stickers, which carry the headline "A MESSAGE FROM THE BEEBE SCHOOL BOARD," describe evolution as a "controversial theory" and go on to suggest that "evolution alone is not adequate to explain the origins of life." The stickers specifically name an "intelligent designer" as a possible source for those origins.

In its letter to the school district, the ACLU cited the recent decision in the federal lawsuit, Selman v. Cobb. County School District, which held that similar stickers in Georgia textbooks violate the First Amendment. The ACLU said that the stickers used by the Beebe School District go much further than the three-line Cobb County disclaimer, because they specifically reference an "intelligent designer," which is a religious concept.

"Teaching about religion in history or social studies classes is proper, but masquerading a religious message as scientific fact is misleading and can lead to unnecessary divisiveness in a community," said Sklar.

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