The purpose of Our Conscience weblog is to facilitate a greater discussion and understanding of church and state separation in our community and in others. Underlying this is the value that each individual should be allowed to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience without influence, coercion, or direction from the State when it comes to matters of religion.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Closing arguments conclude in evolution suit

Our Conscience

Closing arguments conclude in evolution suit

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 11/12/04

Closing arguments wrapped up Friday morning in a federal lawsuit to remove evolution disclaimers placed in science textbooks by Cobb County.

U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper, who heard three days of testimony, said he will make his ruling as soon as possible, although he gave no date.

The disclaimers were approved two years ago and call evolution a "theory, not a fact." Six parents seeking to have them removed argue they violate the principle of separation of church and state.

In closing arguments, school system attorney Linwood Gunn called the language of the disclaimers "vague, and [it] could have been drafted better." But, he added, the language was neutral, making no mention of religion or faith. And classroom teachers, by law, are required to teach only evolution.

Cobb school board members, he said, testified they meant for the disclaimers to make students whose religious beliefs conflict with evolution feel comfortable, because "science and religion can't be mutually exclusive if we want to learn science. Conflict does come up."

The parents' attorney, Michael Manely, however, said the disclaimers do "not just go to students who need accommodation. [They] go to all students." He argued the disclaimers assert a belief by calling evolution "not a fact. It is not accommodation to assert, 'we are right, you are wrong.' "

Some board members, Manely said, testified they do not fully believe in evolution themselves. He capsulized the testimony of the scientists he called to the stand, saying any "alternatives" to evolution are considered unscientific — and religious — by most scientists.

The scientists and a North Cobb High School teacher testified that the disclaimers were a "warning" to students that evolution was, somehow, suspect or suspicious.

Find this article here


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