Texas Clergy Promote Sound Science in Public Schools
Congregations Join Evolution Weekend Project on Feb. 8-10
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2008
As the debate over teaching evolution in public schools heats up, Texas clergy are joining colleagues across the country this weekend to demonstrate that there is no conflict between faith and supporting a sound science education.
The Texas Faith Network, which includes mainstream religious leaders from around the state, is partnering with the Clergy Letter Project to promote Evolution Weekend on Feb. 8-10. Clergy in all 50 states and at least nine countries will deliver sermons, lead discussions and host speakers, among other activities, over the weekend. They will encourage parishioners to engage in meaningful discourse about the importance of both religious faith and sound science.
“We are encouraged by the efforts of clergy to remind us all that there is no conflict between faith in God and giving our children a sound science education,” said Texas Freedom Network Education Fund President Kathy Miller. “Public schools should be making sure students are prepared to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century, not deciding which religious beliefs to teach in science classes.”
Congregations headed by clergy affiliated with the Texas Faith Network are among the more than 40 (as of Monday, Feb. 4) across Texas that are participating in Evolution Weekend. A list of participating congregations can be found at www.evolutionweekend.org.
“We can do best for our children and honor the diversity of all Texans by teaching sound science in the classroom and leaving personal religious views to our families and faith communities,” said the Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, pastor of Covenant Church in Houston, which will participate in Evolution Weekend.
Evolution Weekend this year comes as the State Board of Education begins revising science curriculum standards in Texas. Some state board members have called in the past for teaching the religion-based concept called “intelligent design” alongside evolution in science classes. More recently, board members have insisted that curriculum standards call into question the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution.
Evolution Weekend is an offshoot of the Clergy Letter Project, which was founded in 2004 by Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University. More than 11,100 Christian clergy members in America have signed the letter, agreeing that “religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.”
The letter urges school boards to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. It asks “that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.”
The Texas Faith Network includes more than 600 mainstream religious leaders who share a faith that produces a politics of community and compassion. It is a project of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, a nonpartisan research and citizen education organization that works on issues involving religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.