In yet another battle between church and state, a federal judge in Atlanta has ordered the Cobb County, Georgia school board to remove stickers questioning the validity of evolution from its biology textbooks, on the grounds that the wording of the stickers violated the U.S. Constitution.
On Thursday, Jan. 13, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled in Atlanta that the Cobb County school board's 2002 decision to place disclaimers about the theory of evolution on its biology textbooks violated the First Amendment's guarantee of separation of church and state.
The stickers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
Judge Cooper ordered the stickers removed.
The separation clause of the First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, ..."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the suit on the behalf of a group of concerned parents.
Attorneys for the ACLU argued that the use and wording of the labels promoted the teaching of creationism, thus discriminating against non-Christian students.
Creationists believe that life was created by God. Evolutionists believe that life sprang from naturally occurring chemical reactions, and developed according to natural selection and survival of the fittest.
In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that creationism could not be taught side-by-side with evolution in publicly funded schools.
In its defense, the Cobb County school board argued that the stickers merely urged students to approach the subject of the creation and development of life with an open mind.