Creation Institute Sues Texas Edu Agency Over Alleged Discrimination

Correction appended

A California-based Creation college is suing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and some of its members for rejecting its application to grant a master's degree in science education.

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) filed a federal lawsuit last week, alleging that THECB Commissioner Raymund A. Paredes and several Board members violated its civil rights to teach a religious-based view of science.

The suit claims that its graduate school degree program was rejected because it does not teach science from an "evolution-only" viewpoint.

In court papers, the school argues: "It is viewpoint discrimination for defendants to use their state offices, under color of state law, to withhold a government license (or other benefit), such as a THECB-issued Certificate of Authority, essentially because ICRGS has an unpopular institutional viewpoint (i.e. its Biblical creationist 'Tenets') that guides and informs its approach to teaching Science Education programs."

In a similar lawsuit filed in Texas state court, the school also names the Texas agency itself as a defendant alongside its members.

The legal action comes nearly one year after the THECB voted 8-0 to the deny a Certificate of Authority to ICR.

Despite receiving favorable recommendations by the Board's Site Evaluation Team and Advisory Committee, Paredes had recommended to the THECB to reject the license to ICR. The Commissioner argued that ICRGS did not demonstrate it met acceptable standards of science and science education, saying "religion is not science."

ICR has also submitted a petition to appeal the THECB decision that is working its way through Texas' Office of Administrative Hearings.

A Texas lawmaker, Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) has proposed a bill that would allow the institute to offer the science degree without the coordinating board's approval. The measure, pending in the House Higher Education Committee, would exempt private, nonprofit educational institutions that do not accept state funding and state-administered federal funding from coordinating board rules.

The Institute for Creation Research began offering graduate degrees in California in 1981 where it received full authority by the state to operate its graduate school. The ICR is now is based in Dallas, Texas, while the ICR remains in Santee, Calif., where it currently offers the M.S. in Science Education through an online distance education program.

Its mission is to equip believers "with evidence of the Bible's accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework."

A footnote on the ICR's Web site states that the school currently offers an M.S. in Science Education only to qualified students who are not Texas residents.

"ICR is currently examining its legal options regarding how it can best serve the educational 'gaps' of Texas residents."

Correction: Saturday, April 25, 2009:

An article on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, about a lawsuit filed by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) misstated the Calif.-based college's key claim. The suit claims that its graduate school degree program was rejected because it does not teach science from an "evolution-only" viewpoint, not because it holds an "evolution-only" view of science.

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