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National Council of Churches statement on teaching evolution


The National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy recently issued a statement (PDF) on "Science, Religion, and the Teaching of Evolution in Public School Classes," intended "to assist people of faith who experience no conflict between science and religion and who embrace science as one way of appreciating the beauty and complexity of God's creation" as they consider the issues surrounding the teaching of evolution. The statement addresses four questions: "What is science? What is religion? Is it possible to think that both religion and science are important? How is religious liberty, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, relevant to a discussion about the teaching of evolution in public school science classes?"

Along with brief answers to those questions, the statement also includes relevant quotations from the book of Hebrews, from the Episcopal Church's Catechism of Creation, and from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and theologians John Haught and Marcus Borg. It closes with a quotation from Judge Jones's decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover rebutting the idea that "evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general." In a press release dated March 27, 2006, the committee which wrote the statement said, "While many excellent resources about the teaching of evolution in public school science classes have been made available for public school teachers and the general public from the point of view of science, there has been a shortage of ready resources written from the point of view of religion."

Founded in 1950, the NCC describes itself as the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's member faith groups -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation. Members of the NCC's Committee on Public Education and Literacy represent: the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ; the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; the Episcopal Church; the Presbyterian Church (USA); the Progressive National Baptist Convention; the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries; the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society; and the United Methodist Women.