American Jewish Committee Files Brief Opposing Evolution Disclaimer Stickers on Science Textbooks
NEW YORK, June 10 -- The American Jewish Committee today filed an amicus brief with a federal appeals court in Georgia opposing inclusion of evolution disclaimer stickers on science textbooks.
The case, Selman vs. Cobb County, involves a school district’s placement of disclaimer stickers on science textbooks describing evolution as a “theory, not a fact,” and asking students to think critically about the material.
“Nowhere is the need to maintain separation of religion and government greater than in public schools, where the undue utilization of state institutions to advance religious doctrine is the most problematic,” said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC’s general counsel.
“The use of disclaimers is simply another attempt to limit or denigrate the teaching of evolution in public schools,” Sinensky said.
The AJC brief asserts that the policy of disclaimer stickers violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause which mandates a separation between religion and state, and also asserts that it is unconstitutional for the government to use the stickers in order to placate constituents who oppose the teaching of evolution for religious reasons.
In the brief, AJC points out that while the government may accommodate religious practices without violating the Establishment Clause, even if the teaching of evolution imposes a significant burden on the exercise of religion, the “solution consistent with Supreme Court precedent is to create an exemption for religious objectors rather than to change the teaching of evolution for all students to suit the views of religious believers.”
The brief, co-authored by AJC and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was also signed by the Anti- Defamation League.
A staunch defender of church-state separation as the surest guarantor of religious liberty for all Americans, AJC has been involved in many of the landmark Free Exercise and Establishment cases in American jurisprudence, including Edwards vs. Aguillard, in which AJC argued that “creationism represents a religious approach to a natural phenomenon, presented in the language, but not the methodology of science.”
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