"Still trying to get creationism in science classes"

Lauri LeboLauri Lebo

Writing on Religion Dispatches (August 11, 2010), Lauri Lebo anticipates the fifth anniversary of Kitzmiller v. Dover by rehearsing the connections between "intelligent design" and creationism, both in Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005 and in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, in 2010.

In a previous post at Religion Dispatches (August 5, 2010), Lebo commented incisively on a column in which Bruce Chapman, the president of the Discovery Institute, "backpedaled from a Louisiana creationism mishap he helped spawn." The mishap in question was the fact that certain members of the Livingston Parish School Board explicitly considered the Louisiana Science Education Act, supported by the Discovery Institute, to license the teaching of creationism. As NCSE previously reported, members of the board asked, "Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" and declared, "Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom." The board formed a committee to explore the possibilities of incorporating creationism in the parish's science classes, although no action is expected to be taken during the 2010-2011 school year.

In his column, Chapman tried to distance the Discovery Institute from the Livingston Parish School Board members, and compared them to the Dover Area School Board members who in 2004 adopted the policy that provoked eleven parents to file suit in Kitzmiller v. Dover. Lebo, who reported on Kitzmiller v. Dover for the York Daily Record and then wrote a book on the case, The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America (New Press, 2008), replied, "just as in the case of Livingston, Dover board members correctly interpreted that code language like 'intelligent design' and 'teach the controversy' were merely other ways of saying 'creationism.' And after the board members' remarks about creationism became too widely reported to ignore, the Discovery Institute tried to distance itself from the case and ran away."

A Discovery Institute blogger, David Klinghoffer, then complained that Lebo was ignoring "the enormous difference" between creationism and "intelligent design" — prompting Lebo, in her August 11, 2010, post to retort, "No matter how many times they deny it, intelligent design relies on the supernatural." She added, "But don't take my word for it. Especially when Discovery Institute and its fellows have so many words of their own that reveal their intention." Citing the Wedge Document, the booklet Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook, and the copious documentation provided in Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross's Creationism's Trojan Horse, she explained why, as Judge John E. Jones III wrote in the Kitzmiller decision, "The writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity."

"So it's a bit early at this point to speculate whether Louisiana and the Livingston Parish School District will be the site of the next constitutional test case of the Discovery Institute's latest brand of creationism," Lebo concluded. "But the echoes of Dover are certainly interesting."