The American Civil Liberties Union is urging a Kansas school district to cancel mandatory student assemblies that feature a pro-creationism speaker, the group announced in a statement last week.
The Kansas and Western Missouri chapter of the ACLU is raising concerns with Hugoton Public Schools extending an invitation to Creation Truth Foundation founder Dr. G. Thomas Sharp to give a presentation titled "Truth About Dinosaurs" at two school assemblies for middle and high school students in the district. According to teaching materials on the group's website, the presentation focuses on the "Biblical view explaining the origins, extinction and possible existence of dinosaurs," and cites "evidence" that the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex was still in existence "fewer than 100,000 years ago."
"It is now a matter of historical record that Western thought and culture has come under the total domination of a 'scientific' based mind-set called evolutionary materialism," reads the organization's mission statement. "As a Christian worker and professional educator for the past 40 years, I have been keenly aware that every aspect of life in America has been negatively influenced by the subtle and godless philosophy of evolutionism for some time ... As a result Creation Truth Foundation, Inc. was organized."
On Friday, the ACLU sent a letter to Hugoton Public Schools superintendent Mark Crawford urging the school district to call off the assemblies.
"Teaching or otherwise promoting creationism is, simply put, unlawful. As the District is surely aware, the federal courts hav been unequivocally clear that efforts to inject religious beliefs regarding the origin of life into public school science curricula are constitutionally impermissible, no matter what form they may take," reads the letter. "We respectfully request that the District take immediate and concrete steps to remedy these problems. The first step would be to cancel the planned mandatory school assemblies now set for next week."
As the AP reported, Crawford said he will not be canceling the events.
"I agree with the ACLU, in that, if a mandatory all-school assembly where creationist truths or creationist beliefs were expressed, that would be inappropriate public-school content, and that is not the case," Crawford said. "It's completely and totally school appropriate."