October 25, 2013

Pastor: teaching evolution in schools suppresses freedom


Charles Darwin.

According to creationist Pastor Donn Chapman of Cornerstone Ministries in Murraysville, Pa., public schools routinely violate “academic freedom” in favor of evolution.

Chapman is not known for his subtlety. He regularly compares America to Nazi Germany, arguing that teachers of evolution dominate the academic mainstream while “anyone who suggests discussion [or alternate explanations] is exterminated … academically.” Because America was founded by Christians, he argues that teaching evolution undermines what the forefathers stood for. Chapman argues that secularists are the modern gatekeepers of education who maintain that if children are “going to get into a good school, they are going to think like us [secularists]. Heil, Hitler.”

Secularists regard the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress passing laws in favor of establishing a religion, as legitimate grounds for the suppression of creationist theory in classrooms. If nothing else, teaching the Christian creationist theory ignores versions adopted by other religions. But with a new anti-evolution bill slated for review in Pennsylvania, Chapman is hopeful.

Drawn mainly from language of The Discovery Institute, similar bills have already passed in Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012. The Institute claims “the worldview of scientific materialism has been pitted against traditional beliefs in the existence of God, Judeo-Christian ethics and the intrinsic dignity and freedom of man.” God and Evolution, an anthology of essays geared towards reconciling mutually exclusive facets of evolution and creationism, is among the controversial works published by The Discovery Institute.

In Pennsylvania the “Academic Freedom” bill has gained traction with champions of conservative Christianity like the Louisiana Family Forum, the Family Action Council of Tennessee, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Supporters like Chapman claim that passing the bill will protect educators from the intimidation and ostracism they face when attempting to teach creationism. Opponents like Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, however, are confident the bill will not pass.


Phil Velinov is a Melville House intern.