Louisiana School Defends Using the Bible to 'Present Alternative Viewpoints' When Teaching Evolution

A woman walks beside an exhibit displaying the evolution of humans, at the Darwin's Evolution Exhibition in the Calouste Gulbenkina Foundation in Lisbon February 12, 2009.
A woman walks beside an exhibit displaying the evolution of humans, at the Darwin's Evolution Exhibition in the Calouste Gulbenkina Foundation in Lisbon February 12, 2009. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro)

A Louisiana school district is speaking out in defense of teachers who use the Bible "to present alternative viewpoints" when teaching on evolution, despite claims from secular scientists that teaching Creationism is "unconstitutional and scientifically-misleading."

Josh Rosenau, spokesperson for the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that promotes the teaching of evolution in schools, asserted on the group's website that "one in eight high school biology teachers advocate for Creationism, even though it's 'unconstitutional,'" in response reports that some teachers in Bossier Parish Schools based in Benton, Louisiana, are using the Bible when teaching on evolution.

Rosenau's comments were a reaction to an article in the left-leaning Slate magazine that reportedly acquired emails from faculty in Bossier Parish wherein a science teacher was said to be teaching about Creationism in the classroom and using materials that included the Bible.

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One such email from science teacher Shawna Creamer to principal Jason Rowland at Airline High School allegedly said: "We will read in Genesis and them [sic] some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present."

Rosenau, who opposes teaching Creationism in schools, asserted: "These emails make clear that many teachers are interpreting the Louisiana Science Education Act as allowing such unconstitutional and scientifically-misleading lessons."

A spokesperson from Bossier Parish Schools, which is among the fastest growing school district's in the state, told The Christian Post that while the "district does not provide Creationist literature as supplements in our courses," it does allow educators to "use the Bible as supplementary material in presenting alternative viewpoints to evolution."

"We support our teachers in engaging their students in dialogue regarding Creationism and evolution and allowing students to express their views," the spokesperson added.

Rosenau is among the secular critics who argue that educators are using the Louisiana Science Education Act to teach about Creationism in public schools.

Passed in 2008, the act calls for teachers to provide more critical interpretations of issues like the theory of evolution and climate change.

"The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning," reads the act, in part.

"A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board."

While the act included a clause prohibiting the promotion of any religious doctrine, critics have said the legislation would allow schools to teach Creationism.

Since its passage, there have been multiple efforts in the state legislature to repeal the act, though each of them have been voted down.

In April 2013, Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal defended the act, telling NBC in an interview that he believed students should have "the tools so they can make up their own mind, not only in science, but as they learn about other controversial issues, such as global warming or climate change."

"Let's teach them about the big bang theory, let's teach them about evolution. ... I've got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about Creationism," continued Jindal.

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