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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2015/06/12

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

A new statement on climate change: the Clergy Climate Letter. The
latest development in the creationist lawsuit against the NGSS in
Kansas. And the death of Alabama's antiscience bill.


Over one hundred clergy -- including leaders of Christian, Jewish,
Unitarian, and Humanist groups -- have endorsed a new Clergy Climate
Letter. The letter, modeled roughly on the pro-evolution Clergy Letter
Project (which boasts over 13,000 clergy), was vetted by leaders from
many denominations. The initial signers come from twenty-six states
and four countries. The letter reads:


We, the undersigned clergy and leaders from diverse denominations and
philosophical traditions, believe that the scientific consensus about
human-caused climate change demands response on the part of the
communities we serve. Concern for our fellow humans and for the
countless members of our global ecosystem -- whether we call it
"creation care," "stewardship," or by some other name -- is common to
all our traditions.

As leaders within our religious and ethical communities, we believe
that the teachings and ideas that guide our actions comfortably
coexist with the discoveries of modern science. Human-caused climate
change is a scientific truth that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny.
Our beliefs and traditions compel us to accept the scientific truth
and resist efforts to obscure or deny it. Humanity is conducting an
unprecedented and possibly irreversible experiment on our planet, and
our descendants will be living with the consequences of this
experiment for centuries to come. Scientific knowledge and our faiths
and philosophies can work together to heal this world.


Ann Reid, NCSE's executive director, explained: "The National Center
for Science Education has always worked across religious boundaries to
build support for science and science education, and this project is
no different. Climate change is a scientific matter, but clearly
raises profound spiritual and moral questions. This letter's signers
can be a vital resource for people trying to understand the
implications of the science for their own lives." Clergy who support
the letter are encouraged to register their endorsement at

For information about the Clergy Climate Letter, visit: 


"Kansas education officials deny standards they adopted for teaching
of science in public schools endorse what critics say is ... 'a
non-theistic religious Worldview,'" reports the Topeka Capital-Journal
(June 8, 2015), discussing a brief submitted by the
defendants-appellees in COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education
et al.

As NCSE previously reported, after the Kansas state board of education
voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards in June 2013, a
lawsuit attempting to undo the decision was filed, alleging that the
NGSS "will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to
establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview."

The lead plaintiff is COPE, Citizens for Objective Public Education, a
relatively new creationist organization founded in 2012. But its
leaders and attorneys include people familiar from previous attacks on
evolution education across the country, such as John H. Calvert of the
Intelligent Design Network.

In December 2014, the lawsuit was dismissed, largely because the
plaintiffs lacked standing to assert any of their claims, failing to
establish any of the three relevant requirements for standing: injury,
causation, and addressability. But COPE swiftly appealed the dismissal
to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

In its brief, filed on March 20, 2015, COPE contended that the
dismissal was erroneous because it failed to take into consideration
all alleged injuries, to recognize that the injuries were
particularized, concrete, and imminent, and to comport with
controlling legal precedents from the Tenth Circuit and the Supreme

In their brief, filed on June 8, 2015, the defendants-appellees
primarily focused on the issues of standing, but pointedly insisted,
"Contrary to Plaintiffs' claims, the Science Standards do not address
religious questions such as the existence of a god or gods ...
Plaintiff's description of the Science Standards as 'atheistic' is a
gross mischaracterization."

For the story in the Topeka Capital-Journal, visit: 

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kansas, visit: 


Alabama's House Bill 592 died in committee in the Alabama House of
Representatives on June 4, 2015, when the legislative session ended.
The bill would have encouraged teachers and students to "debate the
strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools
across Alabama," reported the Anniston Star (May 7, 2015).

As NCSE previously reported, the bill identified "biological
evolution, the chemical orgins of life, and human cloning" as topics
likely to "cause debate and disputation," and in effect would have
allowed teachers to present whatever they pleased about such topics
--while preventing educational authorities from intervening.

But judging from a statement of the bill's lead sponsor, Mack Butler
(R-District 30), evolution was the primary target of HB 592. Raw Story
(May 7, 2015) noted that Butler explained on his Facebook page that
his bill would "encourage debate if a student has a problem learning
he came from a monkey rather than an intelligent design!"

A columnist for the Montgomery Advertiser (May 8, 2015) argued, "The
goal of Butler's bill ... was to make it OK for some two-bit religious
zealot posing as a biology teacher to fill kids' heads with debunked
and ridiculous ideas. ... [T]his bill, should it pass, will open the
door to giving religious ideas the same standing in a classroom as
scientific theory."

Alabama's House Bill 592 was the most recent antiscience bill
introduced in a state legislature in 2015, following Indiana's Senate
Bill 562, Iowa's House File 272, Missouri's House Bill 486, Montana's
House Bill 321, Oklahoma's Senate Bill 665, and South Dakota's Senate
Bill 114. All seven bills are now dead.

For Alabama's House Bill 592 as introduced (PDF), visit: 

For the articles in the Anniston Star and Raw Story, visit: 

For the column in the Montgomery Advertiser, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Alabama, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Emily Schoerning contemplating bacterial antibiotic resistance: 

* Ann Reid debunking the supposed omnipotence of viruses: 

* Josh Rosenau discussing record-setting baseball performances and
extreme weather: 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204

Check out NCSE's new blog, Science League of America: 

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