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National Science Foundation Sued for Using Federal Tax Dollars to Promote Religion in Public Schools

A parent in California is suing the National Science Foundation for using more than a half-million federal dollars to develop a website that encourages science teachers to use religion to promote evolution in public schools.

In announcing the suit Larry Caldwell, President of Quality Science Education for All, who is co-counsel in the suit with the Pacific Justice Institute, said, “the same people who so loudly proclaim that they oppose discussion of religion in science classes are clamoring for public school teachers to expressly use theology in order to convince students to support evolution.”

The website, Understanding Evolution, was jointly developed by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a private group whose self-described mission is "Defending the Teaching of Evolution in the Public School," and the University of California Museum of Paleontology. The avowed purpose of the website is to help teachers teach evolution better. Much of the website was funded by a $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Parts of the website explicitly uses religion to promote evolution. In one section, teachers are told that nearly all religious people, theologians, and scientists who hold religious beliefs endorse modern evolutionary theory, and that indeed such a view "actually enriches their faith." Teachers are also directed to a page on the NCSE's own website containing statements by religious groups endorsing evolution.

“This is unquestionably a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause,” says Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. “What business is it of the federal government to tell people what their religious beliefs about evolution should be?

“Groups like the NCSE claim they promote teaching science in public schools but here they are pushing a Darwinist version of Sunday school,” West added.

West reported on the federally-funded website in an article in April 2004 for National Review Online. Click here for additional information.