Teaching creationism in public schools authorized in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
by Nick Matzke
Controvery erupted in Brazil recently after the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Rosinha Mateus, authorized the teaching of creationism in public schools and declared in an interview in the Brazilian newspaper The Globe, "I do not believe in the evolution of species. It's just a theory." Physicist Ennio Candotti, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (Broken Link), said that creationism "is not supported" and called creationism education "propaganda." The controversy appears to be focused on what will be taught in religion classes. In December 2000, the then-governor of Rio de Janeiro state Anthony Garotinho (husband of the current governor Rosinha Mateus) signed decree 3.459/2000, which established confessional religious lessons in public schools. The state hired 500 religion teachers (342 catholic, 132 protestant and 26 other), with students receiving separate lessons according to denomination. Today, Rio de Jainero has 793 religion teachers. Opponents of the move argued that Brazilian federal law requires that religious lessons in public schools be nonconfessional. The current governor's encouragement for teaching creationism in these classes caused an uproar, covered widely in the Brazilian media, including a four-page article in May in Época, a major weekly Brazilian news magazine. According to the article, creationism is being promoted by groups such as the Brazilian Creationist Society (http://www.scb.org.br/), headed by Seventh-Day Adventist Ruy Vieira. The Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo (http://www.unasp.br/), an Adventist university in São Paulo, offers courses and programs that promote creationism. Non-Adventist creationist groups also exist in Brazil, for example, the Brazilian Association for Creation Research (http://www.impacto.org/abpc/), which has brought Duane Gish of the San Diego-based Institute for Creation Research to Brazil five times. The arguments of Brazilian creationists appear to be entirely derived from those of U.S. creationists.
(Época story: "Rosinha contra Darwin [Rosinha against Darwin]" (in Portugese))
Daniel Sottomaior of the Brazilian Round Earth Society [Link is broken] contributed information to this report. He is organizing a petition opposed to the policy, those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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