An anti-evolution group is suing the Kansas State Board of Education for instituting a science curriculum that teaches evolution.
The nonprofit Citizens for Objective Public Education filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the board, education commissioner and Department of Education from teaching science classes consistent with new educational benchmarks developed by 26 states to align school systems across the U.S. These Next Generation Science Standards, which Kansas adopted in June, have seen fierce opposition from critics opposed to the teaching of climate change and evolution.
Citizens for Objective Public Education argues in its lawsuit that the standards promote atheism and therefore violate the separation of church and state.
“The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it,’” said John Calvert, an attorney involved in the lawsuit, per The Associated Press. Calvert is also the founder of the Intelligent Design Network, a group that "seeks institutional objectivity in origins science," according to its website.
The Citizens lawsuit alleges that the Next Generation Science Standards "seek to cause students to embrace a non-theistic Worldview ... by leading very young children to ask ultimate questions about the cause and nature of life and the universe ... and then using a variety of deceptive devices and methods that will lead them to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic explanations.”
Education advocates at the Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Freedom have condemned the suit.
“Every time the public school science curriculum properly refuses to teach creationism, it is guilty of teaching a religious world view? That makes no sense,” reads a blog post on the Committee's website.
The Kansas education board this summer voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards by an 8 – 2 margin, despite the state's history of anti-evolution sentiment. It was a decisive move away from the board's 2005 decision to approve standards that took a skeptical view of Darwinism.
The Next Generation Science Standards have also been adopted by several other states including Rhode Island and Delaware.