Religion in Society

Texas Public Schools Head McLeroy Mixes Education and Faith

| by Texas Freedom Network

The Austin American-Statesman has a long profile of Texas State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy today. The College Station dentist explains his opposition to evolution and his insistence that students learn there are “weaknesses” to this core scientific concept. On the other side of the debate are prominent scientists, such as David Hillis of the University of Texas at Austin and Kenneth Miller of Brown University.

Dr. McLeroy and his supporters insist that their desire to challenge evolution in biology classrooms is not about promoting religion in public schools. Yet he makes clear in the Statesman piece that his religious beliefs are the source of his objections to evolution:

"When I became a Christian, it was whole-hearted. I was totally convinced the biblical principles were right, and I was totally convinced that it could be accurate scientifically."

Dr. McLeroy has every right to his religious beliefs, and millions of people certainly share his. TFN will continue to defend that right and religious liberty for all. But what’s objectionable is a refusal on the part of so many creationists to acknowledge that millions of people of faith accept the science of evolution and see no conflict with their own religious beliefs.

Even worse are creationists who then arrogantly attack the faith of those people. We have seen that in the debate over science standards in Texas. Here is what board member Ken Mercer wrote in the San Antonio-Express-News last month, when he criticized fellow Republican board members for their votes in support of teaching the science of evolution:

"I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.  They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists. These three Republicans will now have to stand accountable before their constituents."

Mercer was essentially parroting the argument of other culture warriors who have been sending e-mails to board members and others across the state. You might recall a notorious example from earlier this year, when one such e-mail linked support for evolution to serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Clearly, atheists are more likely to accept the science of evolution than biblical creationism. Duh. But to suggest that everyone else who does so is an atheist out to destroy religion or at least has been duped by atheists is profoundly insulting and repulsive.

Texas today is at an important crossroads, with one road leading to dogmatic opposition to science and progress based on the deeply misguided belief that religion and faith themselves are under attack. Is that really the road we want to send Texas schoolchildren down?

Read the Opposing Views debate, Does Intelligent Design Have Merit?