Science and religion are once again pitted against each other -- this time in a Kansas Board of Education race in which one candidate, Jack Wu, has called evolution "Satanic lies."
Wu, who also attends, but is not an official member of, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, is running for the Board of Education in the 4th District against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell. The church is known for anti-gay protests around the world.
Wu's candidacy has caused a stir in an otherwise uneventful election. He wishes to entirely remove evolution from public school curricula, whereas Campbell believes evolution should be taught in school as well established scientific theory, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The debate over evolution in the 4th District comes as the state is drafting new science standards as part of a nationwide effort for standardized guidelines. When Kansas' first draft became public last month, however, Republican board member Ken Willard told the Associated Press that the standards are "very problematic" for describing evolution as a well-established, core scientific concept.
"They are preferring one religious position over another," Willard said.
The state's former standards included provisions from advocates of "intelligent design," stating that certain aspects of the Universe are best explained by intelligent cause. The new draft of the multi-state standards, however, calls evolutionary theory "key to understanding both the unity and diversity of life on earth," noting that it has a "long history and solid foundation based on the research evidence established by many scientists working across multiple fields."
Yet the buzz surrounding this election is also attributable to the controversial church Wu attends.
Westboro Baptist frequently pickets funeral services for fallen soldiers by holding signs that read "Thanks God For IEDs" and "Pray For More Dead Kids." A series of television interviews with its founding family members have catapulted the church to national infamy.
Wu said he decided to enter the race after discovering that the incumbent was running unopposed.
"She's going to win my district without a fight?" he told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "I'm not going to let that happen."
Westboro Baptist church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper told AP that Wu is an "acquaintance," and described him as "just a friendly little guy."
Jack was taught that God created the world and the universe. At first, Jack stuck with his old pseudo-science evolution-based cosmology. However, the light of the holy scriptures burned all those trashy concepts away. Jack now knows that God is the Creator of all things.
His website biography states that his mission is to "make a difference in this evil city of Topeka and this perverse state of Kansas."
Campbell, the Democratic incumbent, says she wants evolution to be taught to children because it is necessary for a complete education.
"The first thing on my heart is always to put our children first in all my decisions," Campbell told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "What's best for all our children to give them a quality education and a well-rounded education."
Wu also makes an appearance in Louis Theroux's follow-up film to his 2007 original expose of the Westboro Baptist Church; "The most hated family in America," below, beginning around 8:46. Hat tip to The Pitch.