Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Views NEWS

Censorship in Freespace

Timothy Sandefur is an atheist legal commentator who believes that it is unconstitutional to teach the weaknesses, along with the strengths, of evolutionary theory in schools. His reason: he believes that evolutionary theory has no weaknesses:

...to teach the (non-existent) "weaknesses" of evolution in a government classroom is almost always (a) contrary to the lesson plan--and therefore a violation of a teacher's employment contract--or (b) in reality an attempt to teach creationism to school children as true...[t]he Establishment Clause forbids the government from declaring any religious viewpoint to be true. [emphasis mine]

Sandefur is particularly upset by the participation of Christians in the public square. His view of the Establishment clause is, even by his own admission, "extreme":

I believe tax exemptions for churches are unconstitutional violations of the Establishment Clause--a well-respected position in First Amendment law, although not one the Supreme Court has endorsed. I believe "In God We Trust" on the currency is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause--a position shared by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and many respected First Amendment scholars, and one the Supreme Court chickened out of addressing. Presidents invoking God in speeches is troubling from a First Amendment perspective, but it's widely understood that they're speaking only of their own religious views, something a President, like any other citizen, has a right to do. I believe military chaplains are also a violation of the First Amendment--an extreme position, but one I'm proud to say James Madison himself, author of the First Amendment, also held. And if it were true that "atheist ideology" were being taught in government schools, that too would be unconstitutional. It happens not to be true.[Emphasis mine]

Mr. Sandefur's assertion that "military chaplains are also a violation of the First Amendment" is noteworthy. He presumably would allow our soldiers in Fallujah to pay their chaplains with bake sales, on their own time.

Mr. Sandefur is an atheist fundamentalist. He advocates the expulsion of Christianity from the public square, and he demands judicially enforced censorship of scrutiny of Darwinism in public schools. There is a totalitarian streak in atheism.

Mr. Sandefur's constraint is that he lives in a democracy, which limits the ability of fringe ideologues to impose their ideology on the majority. So atheist fundamentalists use idiosyncratic interpretations of the First Amendment -- which was enacted to protect free speech -- to spur the courts to impose by fiat censorship that atheists could never impose by the electoral process. The American public overwhelmingly supports the right to teach both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in schools. The Supreme Court, in Edwards v. Aguillard, ruled that it is constitutional to "require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught." Thousands of evolutionary biologists conduct research on the weaknesses of evolutionary theory using public funds. Teaching public school students about the weaknesses and strengths of evolutionary theory is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, is constitutional, and is good science.

Mr. Sandefur disagrees. His argument is this: evolution is a theory without weaknesses, and the discussion of weaknesses in public schools is unconstitutional and can be silenced by legal force.

Mr. Sandefur, on his blog "Freespace," describes himself as a "libertarian." On the issue of evolution, "Freespace" refers to Mr. Sandefur's freedom, not yours.