U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case of Kansas Parents Concerned State Science Standards Promote Atheism

school-book-pdWASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from a Kansas citizen’s group that expressed concern over state science standards, which they assert indoctrinates children as young as kindergarten with atheism.

“It’s not that they can’t talk about [biblical Creation],” Jim McNiece, chairman of the Kansas Board of Education, told reporters this past week following the court’s denial of certiorari. “They’re not prohibited from talking about it if students ask questions. It probably happens in the classrooms on a more regular basis than people realize, but it’s also part of the parents’ responsibility. We still believe parents are the primary educators of their children.”

As previously reported, in June 2013, the Kansas Board of Education joined 25 other states and the National Research Council to adopt new science standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that included the teaching of evolutionary biology.

But the accepted guidelines were opposed by the Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE), along with a number of Christian parents in the state, “who seek to instill in their children a belief that life is a creation made for a purpose, that does not end on death and is not simply a purposeless occurrence that is the product of an unguided evolutionary process.”

In filing a lawsuit to stop the standards from going into effect, families representing a total of 18 children asserted that the origin of life is an inherently religious topic, and that the new guidelines essentially promote the religion of atheism and materialism.

“[T]his case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic/atheistic. It is particularly problematic in the area of origins science which addresses ultimate religious questions, like: Where do we come from?” explained John Calvert, one of the attorneys on the case.

It was also argued that the curriculum, by mandating that children be taught evolution from kindergarten, showed that the school board has the intention to indoctrinate youth with secularism.

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“The effect of teaching for thirteen years only the materialistic/atheistic side of a religious controversy to an audience that is not age appropriate is religious, not educationally objective, and is indicative of an intent to inculcate and establish that non-theistic religious worldview in the children,” the legal complaint contended.

But a district court dismissed the case in 2014, concluding that COPE had failed to show any actual injury and therefore lacked standing, and in April, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal, stating that the standards are not binding on districts.

“In sum, because the districts may choose not to adopt the standards, or may alter the standards in ways that alleviate Appellants’ concerns, potential future injury from the standards themselves is speculative and insufficient to support standing,” it ruled. “[N]othing prevents school districts from adding to or altering the standards as they develop curricula.”

COPE appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on Thursday, the court declined to take the case without comment.

As of press time, COPE had not yet released remarks on the decision.

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