Facing Sticker Shock in Cobb County, Georgia

by Pam Sheppard on December 13, 2005

More on the creation/evolution debate within public schools in Cobb County, Georgia

For those who have followed the creation/evolution debate (especially within public schools) for any length of time, the following question might come to mind: “Does any decision stick when it comes to teaching origins?” School board members get replaced, judges’ rulings get overturned by a higher court and in Cobb County, Georgia, evolutionary disclaimer stickers get added to textbooks, only to be removed a few years later. Yes, even stickers don’t seem to stick around for long.

But when a federal judge ordered the stickers be removed from almost 35,000 Cobb County schoolbooks last spring, even that decision might not be the final word on what is allowed in high school biology classes.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report (December 11), the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear arguments on Thursday that the 33-word stickers that stated evolution is “a theory, not a fact” violated the First Amendment.

As we previously reported, US District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that the stickers went against the First Amendment because they “conveyed a message of endorsement of religion.”

Shortly after the ruling, the school board decided to appeal Judge Cooper’s decision. This week, both sides are getting ready to restate their arguments before the federal appeals court.

As reported in the AP article, Cobb school board attorney Linwood Gunn argued in his appeal that the sticker’s language made no mention of religion.

“The mere fact that a part of the language of the sticker may coincide with the religious views of some citizens does not render it unconstitutional,” he wrote.

With this appeal, the question of the day has now become, “Will the sticker reappear?”

But according to board member Betty Gray, even if the judge rules in favor of the school board, she is uncertain whether the board will return the stickers to textbooks.

“The emotional impact of this is something else,” she said in the AP article.

Lawsuit against University of California underway

Elsewhere in the battle, the US District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles, California is presiding over a lawsuit filed by six students and their school, Calvary Chapel Christian School and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) against the University of California. The lawsuit accuses university admission officials of discriminating against high schools that teach creationism and other conservative Christian viewpoints.

A hearing had been scheduled to begin on Monday (December 12), but according to an AP report (December 12), Judge Otero decided to rule on the issue based on documents filed by both sides. A decision is expected early next week.

For additional information on the lawsuit, see the following article: University of California sued for discriminating against Christian courses.

Check back at our website for future updates on these important court cases in today’s cultural battle between worldviews.


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