Despite ample legal precedent to the contrary, a number of school board candidates in the Chicago suburbs -- including the sitting president of one district -- announced in editorial board interviews that they supported teaching creationism in schools.
In mid-February, the suburban Daily Herald reported that two of the four candidates for the Fremont School District 79 board, about 45 miles north Chicago, would give creationism a place in the curriculum. One of those, Board President Sandra Bickley, told that paper that "from a scientific standpoint it can be given as a viewpoint" and that creationism is "another theory to consider."
Last Thursday, another round of interviews with candidates by the newspaper in the nearby suburb of Lake Zurich revealed that all four candidates for the three seats in that district also support teaching creationism.
Of evolution, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 School Board incumbent Tony Pietro told the DH: "I think we can say this is a theory," he said Thursday. "None of us were here when man was created."
Creationism is the theory that God created the universe and all living things, as follows from the Bible's Book of Genesis. As Chicagoist aptly pointed out, the Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision of 1987 quite clearly bars creationism from science classrooms on the grounds that it unduly preferences one set of religious beliefs. "Because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to advance a particular religious belief, the Act endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment," the Court wrote in that decision.
A similar ruling in 2005, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, struck down the then-popular creationism variant known as "intelligent design" on the same grounds.
Still, when asked about adding creationism to the curriculum, Lake Zurich School Board candidate Doug Goldberg said to the Daily Herald interviewers, "I'm a good, God-fearing American and the answer is 'Yes.'"
And newcomer Chris Wallace went further still, saying, "Creationism to me is factual. Darwinism is a theory."
Voters in the Lake Zurich district will head to the polls on April 5 to determine which three of the four men will serve on their school board. One thing is for certain: all three of them will have some ambitious, if legally dubious, recommendations for District 95's science program.