The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III to bar the teaching of “intelligent design” in the Dover, Pa., public school district on grounds it is a thinly veiled effort to introduce a religious view of the world’s origins is welcome for at least two reasons.
First, it exposes the sham attempt to take through the back door what proponents have no chance of getting through the front door. Judge Jones rebuked advocates of “intelligent design,” saying they repeatedly lied about their true intentions. He noted many of them had said publicly their intent was to introduce into the schools a biblical account of creation.
Judge Jones properly wondered how people who claim to have such strong religious convictions could lie, thus violating prohibitions in the Book they proclaim as their source of truth and standard for living.
Culture has long passed by advocates of intelligent design, school prayer and numerous other beliefs and practices that were once tolerated, even promoted, in public education. People who think they can reclaim the past have been watching too many repeats of “Leave it to Beaver” on cable television. Those days are not coming back anytime soon, if at all.
Culture, including the culture of education, now opposes what it once promoted or at least tolerated. The secular left, which resists censorship in all forms when it comes to sex, library books and assigned materials that teach the “evils” of capitalism and “evil America,” is happy to censor any belief that can be tagged “religious.”
This leads to the second reason for welcoming Judge Jones’ ruling. It should awaken religious conservatives to the futility of trying to make a secular state reflect their beliefs. Too many people have wasted too much time and money since the 1960s, when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in public schools, trying to get these and other things restored. The modern secular state should not be expected to teach Genesis 1, or any other book of the Bible, or any other religious text.
That the state once did such things, or at least did not undermine what parents taught their children, is irrelevant. The culture in which we now live no longer reflects the beliefs of our grandparents’ generation. For better, or for worse (and a strong case can be made things are much worse), people who cling to the beliefs of previous generations have been given another chance to do what they should have done all along.
Religious parents should exercise the opportunity they always had. They should remove their children from state schools with their “instruction manuals” for turning them into secular liberals, and place them in private schools — or home school them — where they will be taught the truth, according to their parents’ beliefs. Too many parents who would never send their children to a church on Sunday that taught doctrines they believed to be wrong have had no problem placing them in state schools five days a week where they are taught conflicting doctrines and ideas. Private schools or home schooling cost extra money (another reason to favor school choice) and extra time, but what is a child worth? Surely, a child is more valuable than material possessions.
Our children are our letters to the future. It’s up to parents to decide whether they want to send them “first class” or “postage due.”
Rulings such as this should persuade parents who’ve been waffling to take their kids and join the growing exodus from state schools into educational environments more conducive to their beliefs.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.