AJC Applauds Court Decision against Intelligent Design in Pennsylvania Schools

AJC Applauds Court Decision against Intelligent Design in Pennsylvania Schools

December 20, 2005 New York – The American Jewish Committee applauds today’s court decision rejecting as unconstitutional the introduction of intelligent design theories into the science classes of Dover, Pennsylvania public schools.


“Today’s ruling is a significant blow to those who are attempting to intrude religious dogma, under the guise of science, into the nation’s public schools,” said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC’s general counsel. “Intelligent design is not a scientifically accepted theory, but a religious theory similar to creationism, which has no place in the science classroom of a public school.  Any discussion of creationism or intelligent design would be more appropriate in a history or comparative religion class, as opposed to a science curriculum.”


In Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, plaintiffs challenged the Dover school board’s decision that required high school biology teachers to read a disclaimer referencing intelligent design prior to teaching evolution. Rejecting the school board’s mandated disclaimer, United States District Judge John E. Jones III wrote, “The disclaimer’s plain language, the legislative history, and the historical context in which the ID policy arose, all inevitably lead to the conclusion that defendants consciously chose to change Dover’s biology curriculum to advance religion.”


Intelligent design is a theory of creation which posits that a higher being is responsible for the design of the universe, since the world is a complicated, elaborate system of life which only a higher being could have created.


Judge Jones, in his ruling, concluded that intelligence design is not a science, and cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.


“The secular purpose claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause,” Jones said.


“The court’s ruling underscores that the appropriate place to teach religion is in churches or synagogues, and not in the public schools,” said Sinensky. “We hope that today’s ruling will give pause to other school boards around the country that are flirting with the idea of introducing intelligent design into science curricula.”


AJC is a staunch defender of the separation between church and state in the public school curriculum, particularly in the science classroom. In this vein, AJC has submitted amicus briefs in the key legal cases concerning evolution and creationism over the years, including Edwards v. Aguillard.  Most recently, AJC joined this year in a coalitional brief filed with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Selman v. Cobb County, where a school district required disclaimer stickers to be posted on science textbooks that teach evolution.

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