Creationism taught in Indiana public school

Ahh. . . Indiana: the Alabama of the north.  How many times over the last year have we heard about creeping creationism in the Hoosier State? And now comes another case—a report from the Elkhart Truth that a public high school teacher, Ryan Culp, showed one of Kent Hovind’s videos (“Lies in the textbooks”) to his class as Concord High School. (Hovind, you may recall, is doing a stint in federal prison on tax charges).  A parent complained, which is all it takes to get the ball rolling, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote the school superintendent the letter shown below.

It notes that Culp, when confronted with his First-Amendment transgression, argued that he has a right to teach creationism in the classroom, and that he does so to promote “critical thinking.” The man clearly knows nothing of the law—or the Constitution.

The letter, from FFRF attorney Patrick Eliott, lays out in no uncertain terms why Culp’s actions were illegal. I would bet a thousand dollars that within a few weeks Culp will have to deep-six the creationism, for after the Dover case no school district wants to subject itself to a losing court case, which makes the school district not only look dumb, but saddles it with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

The point I want to make is that this stuff is going on all over the U.S., but we never hear about it because nobody complains. (To get court action started, someone with “standing” must complain: either a student in the classroom or his/her parents.) If you complain, you’re often a pariah.  But that’s the only way to get First-Amendment rights enforced.

Nevertheless, the FFRF can write such letters even without a student’s or parent’s complaints. If you hear of creationism being taught in a classroom, do consider forwarding that information to the FFRF. This page tells you how to report church/state violations.

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33 Comments

  1. francis
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    //

  2. Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Thank the gods for the FFRF!

    b&

    • Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      The gods of freedom from religion?

      /@

      • Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Why not? They’re no more contradictory than any other flavor of god.

        b&

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 27, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink

          Less contradictory (slightly) if they promote the appropriate combination of pasta and flavoursome sauces.

          • Posted February 27, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

            Indeed — if the Christians can eat their gods, why shouldn’t we eat ours?

            b&

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 28, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

              Having just tucked into some quite good meatballs and pasta for lunch (prepared by a heathen with a cross round his neck, even!), I do wonder if Xtians actually savour eating their god?

              • Posted February 28, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

                Not sure how you could savor a savior who’s stale crackers and bad wine, but they at least make a good showing of it….

                b&

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:44 am | Permalink

                They don’t even have the decency to use good wine? No wonder they’re always getting smitten!

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

                “Smoted” is the word you’re looking for, I believe…I don’t think you’ll have much luck getting smitten if you serve cheap wine to your dates….

                b&

  3. bonetired
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    He is a biology teacher for crying out loud! Doesn’t deserve to let loose anywhere near kids.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed.

  4. Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Dang – up until Culp, Concord’s biggest claim-to-fame was Shawn Kemp. Hopefully, after Culp gets corralled, Kemp will remain number one.

  5. eric
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    the FFRF can write such letters even without a student’s or parent’s complaints. If you hear of creationism being taught in a classroom, do consider forwarding that information to the FFRF. This page tells you how to report church/state violations.

    IMO this is exactly the sort of service concerned parents and students need – it reduces the potential personal costs and risks to them of doing the right thing on their own. So thank you FFRF for doing it, and thank you Jerry for advertising it.

  6. Bob J.
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    from comment by Dr. GS Hurd at raw story.com, “Last year’s Indiana End of Course Assessments (ECAs) for Concord High School showed that only 36% of their students passed with satisfactory competence in biology. Only 26% of the 10th grade managed to pass with minimum competence. The year before as 9th graders, 39% had passed.”

  7. Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s unfortunate that the Kitzmiller decision was based on the finding that the supernatural outside the purview of science.

    /@

  8. Martin Wilson
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    “…Young Earth Creationist, Evangelist and convicted felon…”

    Absolutely marvellously brilliant!

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Is this random, ascending or descending order of depravity?

      • Prof.Pedant
        Posted February 26, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        Some things are unknowable.

      • Posted February 27, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        I’d have to say that to be a felon is not as big a deal; it sometimes happens that good people get into bad situations. But to be a YEC these days in an affluent society with many opportunities to learn suggests willful ignorance.

  9. Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    If Culp was truly interested in teaching the students Critical Thinking, he should have taught the Gospel of The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Of course, that would have entailed dressing as a pirate.

    Actually, Critical Thinking IS a good and necessary attribute for a scientist or a science teacher, or anybody, really. Maybe the kids will learn from a negative example?

  10. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Ahh. . . Indiana: the Alabama of the north.

    As a Pennsylvanian, I’m so grateful to have you say that!

    • tomh
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Central Pennsylvania has long claimed (and deserved) that title.

  11. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    It notes that Culp, when confronted with his First-Amendment transgression, argued that he has a right to teach creationism in the classroom, and that he does so to promote “critical thinking.”

    Think critically or else?

  12. johndhynes
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    When I attended St. Joseph Central Elementary (a public school) in Ft. Wayne in the early 70s, we had religion classes. They were held in a trailer on school property, and I think they were taught by non-employees. Attendance was optional, but I felt sorry for the one kid whose parents didn’t let him go, because he had to sit alone while we learned about Adam and Eve.

    • woctor
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      John,

      I had a similar experience, also in the early 70s.

      My elementary school was in a small town near Muncie, and one weekday afternoon each week we walked to the nearby Church of God for Christian indoctrination. It was no different than the Sunday school I attended on weekends.

      It was supposedly optional, but there was enormous social pressure to go.

      I still have a Bible I won as a prize there.

      • johndhynes
        Posted February 27, 2014 at 12:26 am | Permalink

        As we were walking back to our regular room after leaving the trailer one day, we had to duck and cover in the hallway when a tornado hit. The trailer got thrown across the parking lot, with the next class of kids inside.

        • Posted February 27, 2014 at 2:02 am | Permalink

          Somehow I kind of doubt the next trailer was built and staffed to teach kids about EITHER the problem of natural evil, OR the propensity for the almighty and ever-living god to target the trailers of the religious.

  13. Posted February 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    “…argued that he has a right to teach creationism in the classroom, and that he does so to promote “critical thinking.” The man clearly knows nothing of the law—or the Constitution.”

    Or most importantly…Critical thinking

  14. woctor
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    What a surprise.

    Culp has a part-time job coaching basketball at the Elkhart Christian Academy.

    The athletic director says this about him:

    Culp shared that the opportunity to serve a Christian school program is very appealing to him because of his desire to have an impact on kids for eternity.

    Link

    • Posted February 27, 2014 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      The root of the entire problem, in a nutshell: intervene early.

      This kind of thinking is a complete and some would say obvious conclusion to the problem of controlling a communicable disease – my life’s work. If the disease is not having maximal freedom of thought, so you can properly save yourself from a less-than optimal hereafter… you are left with mostly this caliber of thinker, misapplying the seemingly obvious (get ‘em early) in a case where the stakes are as high as it gets. So under the guise of educating and enabling freedoms you get precious resources squandered on nonsense, time you never get back, and young minds lost forever. So much for the common goals of a better long-term future, more civil societies, etc.

  15. dogmeat
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The point I want to make is that this stuff is going on all over the U.S., but we never hear about it because nobody complains.

    My students in my government classes ask about this when we discuss the Lemon Test and issues of establishment in the classroom. I worked it out basically following this metric:

    In a given year, a teacher with a normal contract interacts with about 150 students. Out of that 150 in any given area, about 10-20% (15-30) will be annoyed by the teacher’s antics but only one will likely say anything. In many of those cases (about 9 out of 10) they will say something to their parents or the teacher, but then nothing will come of it. Either the teacher will “explain” to the student what is happening, the parents will agree with the teacher and suppress the student’s concerns, or the parents, student, etc., will decide to just “put up with it” for however long they are covering evolutionary material.

    In that one case out of ten where the students say something and it goes beyond that initial statement, roughly 9 out of 10 times it wont go any further than the teacher. That can be because the teacher comes up with a good explanation of why the student ‘misunderstood’ what was happening, the parent doesn’t know any better and the teacher does what Culp did here and lies about the legality, or the teacher flat out lies about doing it (Freshwater seems to have pulled some of that). For that one out of one hundred cases where it continues, it often ends at administration. It can be the situation is quickly taken care of (we had one take place at my campus), again the parent is given false information and simply accepts it, or the parent is told the truth about the illegal nature of the activities and backs off (had a parent relate an incident like this when they moved back to where I taught in the Midwest). Finally, you do have that case where it goes to an organization like FFRF or the ACLU sending a letter, but by this point we’re in the neighborhood of one out of ten thousand cases.

    The kids have to know their rights are being violated (and care). The parents have to as well. Then they all have to be willing to go to each of the following steps and all that they entail.

  16. marksolock
    Posted March 5, 2014 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.


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