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Recorded Lecture Reveals New Texas Education Board Chair's Hostility To Science, Religious Tolerance

McLeroy Characterizes Evolution/'Intelligent Design' Debate as Clash Between 'Orthodox Christians' and Others

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2007

A recorded lecture reveals that the new chairman of the State Board of Education harbors a shocking hostility to both sound science education and religious tolerance, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

“This recording makes clear the very real danger that Texas schoolchildren may soon be learning more about the religious beliefs of politicians than about sound science in their biology classes,” TFN President Kathy Miller said today. “Even worse, it appears that Don McLeroy believes anyone who disagrees with him can’t be a true Christian.”

Gov. Rick Perry appointed McLeroy, a Bryan dentist, as chairman of the state board in July. McLeroy’s statements during his lecture are particularly insulting to Roman Catholics and millions of other Christians who see no conflict between their religious faith and accepting the science behind evolution, Miller said.

“Texas parents should be very concerned that the governor chose an anti-science, religious ideologue to lead the state body that sets policy for our public schools,” she said. “He might as well have put up a sign that said, ‘Only my kind of Christian need apply.’”

In an Internet blog post (texasobserver.org/blog/?p=533) on Aug. 3, the Texas Observer a biweekly publication based in Austin unearthed the recorded lecture by McLeroy. McLeroy delivered the lecture at Grace Bible Church in Bryan in 2005. A full transcript and an audio file of the lecture are available at www.tfn.org/publiceducation/textbooks/mcleroy/.

At one point during the lecture, McLeroy clearly tied “intelligent design” a religious-based concept billed by supporters as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution to Biblical creationism:

“Why is ‘intelligent design’ the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of ‘intelligent design.’” (6:10 mark on recording)

McLeroy recounted the controversy over teaching evolution during the State Board of Education’s adoption of new biology textbooks in 2003. McLeroy was one of only four members on the 15-member panel who voted to reject the textbooks. Those four members argued that the textbooks failed to discuss what they called the “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory. They were backed by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that opposes evolution and promotes “intelligent design” as an alternative. McLeroy said:

“It was only the four really conservative, orthodox Christians on the board [who] were willing to stand up to the textbooks and say they don’t present the weaknesses of evolution. Amazing.” (8:15 mark on recording)

In the 2006 elections, religious conservatives increased their numbers on the state board to eight a majority. The board is currently overhauling all public school curriculum standards. The board is scheduled to take up revisions to science standards including standards dealing with evolution in 2007-08.

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.


 

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