History is unfolding this week in the small rural county of Dover in Pennsylvania. Here, with the growing political influence of fundamentalist Christians, teachers in public schools were recently mandated by the School Board to read a statement at the beginning of Biology classes that offers skepticism of evolution and introduces "Intelligent Design" as an alternative theory of biological development.
Intelligent Design, the younger brother of Creationism, states that organisms are too complex to be adequately explained by Darwin’s theory of evolution alone and that life required a "helping hand" in order to progress.
While some parents were relieved that their children were being introduced to Intelligent Design, and directed to read more about it in their school library’s copy of "Of Pandas and People", many others were outraged. So outraged that 11 parents are suing the School Board in a case that began Monday in Federal District Court in Harrisburg. Most believe that this case will likely end up in the Supreme Court. The ruling there will set precedence for schools across the country and have an amazingly powerful impact in years to come.
The Christian Alliance for Progress is among those that are outraged. At the heart, this is an issue of separation of church and state. This is about religious fundamentalists becoming ever more emblazoned in their attempts to influence and bring one particular view of religion into the classroom. Evolution is widely accepted as incontrovertible in science communities and faith communities across the world. That it is being so blatantly challenged is yet another sign that our public freedom is being threatened.
A coalition of scientists and Christian clergy members have joined forces with The Clergy Letter Project in an effort to show that faith and science can be partners rather than enemies. Started by Michael Zimmerman, Guest Blogger with The Christian Alliance for Progress and Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the letter has already been endorsed by over 8,000 clergy across the country. Each of these clergy members represents hundreds and sometimes thousands of Christian Americans who believe that science and religion can go hand in hand and that a return to the teaching of creationism is a backwards and alarming step.
The Clergy Letter Project has the unique potential to influence during this time of decision-making in our courts. Its power lies in showing that fundamentalist Christians do not speak for the majority of Christians in rejecting science.
Your help is needed. So often, history unfolds and we are at a loss for what to do. Here is what you can do: Click here to forward this letter to those you know. Print out a copy of The Clergy Letter Project and bring it to your religious leaders. Let them know that you would like them to support this and that this is a critical time for us to speak up and be heard. We can not let religious fundamentalists do our speaking.