A group of parents and a creationist non-profit group are suing the Kansas Board of Education over new public school science standards they argue violate their religious freedom by establishing a “non-theistic” worldview that’s actually a religion itself.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Citizens for Objective Public Education, charges the Next Generation Science Standards approved by the state board of education in June are essentially a state-approved religion that “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview,” according to a COPE news release.
At issue is the concept of evolution and how it’s taught to young children. Under the standards, Kansas public schools are taking a stance on religious matters, the COPE lawsuit states.
“The [standards] take impressionable children, beginning in kindergarten, into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause and nature of life and the universe — ‘where do we come from,’” the lawsuit states.
The standards amount to an “orthodoxy” that discounts the possibility of any supernatural force, the lawsuit states. And by rejecting religion, the state is establishing its own form of religion, COPE argues.
“Instead of explaining to students that science has not answered these religious questions, the [standards] seek to cause them to accept that controversial materialistic/atheistic answers are valid,” the lawsuit states.
That has “the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a nontheistic religious worldview in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.”
In short, a COPE attorney with a long history of legal activism in evolution cases told the Associated Press, belief or disbelief in a supernatural power or its role in the origin of life is a matter of religious faith – a province that belongs to parents, not the public school system.
“The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it,’” John Calvert said.
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