Whatever Happened to Academic Freedom in America’s Public Schools?

Ohio caves in to evolutionists’ pressure.

After a big “win” in Pennsylvania last year, some evolutionists raised the specter of court action in Ohio if the State School Board did not remove a guideline allowing critical analysis of evolution.

Evolutionary scientists throughout America are running scared. They see the inroads being made by creationists who have been educating the public about the bankruptcy of the molecules-to-man evolutionary belief system. Most recently, their alarm has been manifested in how many of them are attempting to intimidate school board members who have decided that students should be able to critically analyze evolution.

On the heels of a big “win” that secularists saw in Dover, Pennsylvania, late last year, where a federal judge ruled that students could not hear a short statement about intelligent design, some emboldened evolutionists raised the specter of court action in Ohio if the Ohio State Board of Education did not remove a guideline which indicated that science teachers were allowed to give “critical analysis” of evolution. (The Ohio standards did not mandate that intelligent design or biblical creation be taught in schools, though.)1

Yesterday, the state school board, meeting in Columbus, kowtowed to the evolutionist activists and effectively voted (11–4) to accept the dubious argument that somehow allowing evolution to be analyzed critically was the same as introducing intelligent design in the classroom. When Ohio Governor Bob Taft indicated a few days ago that over time he would be selecting new board members who would not be critical of evolution, the vote yesterday to remove the “critical analysis” of evolution guideline was not surprising.

Obviously, the secular humanists involved here and in other states don’t want students to even know that there is observational evidence in science that totally contradicts molecules-to-man evolution. Thus they exert legal pressure and even propose legislation (as is being discussed in Wisconsin) to give special protection to the teaching of evolutionary ideas in public schools.

From Dover to Columbus and now to … ?

First, it should be noted that the issue in Dover, Pennsylvania, last year had nothing to do with the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in biology classes. Rather, the Dover school board had simply instructed teachers to make a brief statement that mentioned intelligent design and recommended an ID book in the library. By attempting to apply the Dover decision to other states, and in seeing this recent success in Ohio, evolutionists will now be more determined than ever to pressure school board members in Kansas and other states where evolution is being challenged as fact in schools. Advocates of intelligent design thus have many more challenges in front of them now.

Second, we need to point out that while the judge in Dover ruled that intelligent design is “religion masquerading as science,” and thus it violated “separation of church and state,” when God and creation are eliminated from the science classroom, religion has not been taken out of the curriculum. If students in public schools are being taught that the origin of the universe, life, human beings, etc., can all be explained on the basis of natural processes, these young people are being taught the religion of naturalism—of atheism!

The more that public school systems indoctrinate generations of students in an atheistic philosophy concerning the origin of life, the more we should expect to see moral relativism pervading the culture. After all, if we are just the products of random, natural processes, then no one owns us—we own ourselves—and therefore we can do whatever is “right” for us.

Sadly, the moral state of America is by and large a consequence of a secular education system that has secularized the nation—and that has secularized many in the church who have stood by and allowed (and sometimes supported) this to happen.

It’s all in the definition

Just before Ohio’s school board voted, one board member told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper that while she called herself a creationist, she believed that science (not religion) should be taught in science classes. Now, who declared that the definition of “science” must not include God (or creation)? This is an arbitrary definition created by secularists (and condoned by many religious people) who have decided among themselves that “science” can’t include God.

So many people (including many professed Christians) are now capitulating to this arbitrary definition, one that has been formulated to eliminate Christianity from the public schools and replace it with the religion of atheism. People need to wake up to the fact they are letting the secularists turn the public schools into veritable churches of humanism.

America needs strong people who will stand up to this kind of intimidation that toils under the guise of “science”—which is actually a front for evolutionary, secular humanists who want to impose their anti-God religion on the entire culture.

A nation that prides itself on academic freedom really does not have much of that freedom when a controversial topic like evolution cannot be critically examined in the public education system. What is so unfair about pointing out the scientific problems with evolution theory, especially if no religious belief (or the Bible) is used to challenge it? America needs to wake up to this growing form of academic tyranny.

Dr. Georgia Purdom, an adjunct writer and speaker for AiG–USA (who will join AiG full time in June when she finishes a teaching assignment at a central Ohio university), has been closely watching these curriculum developments in Ohio over the years. She remarked: “I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision made by the OBE [Ohio Board of Education] concerning the lesson plan on the critical analysis of evolution. As a college biology professor, I cannot fathom asking my students not to critically analyze what I am teaching them. It is a crucial part of the learning process. Unfortunately for Ohio’s public school students, they are being told evolution is fact and so there is no point in questioning it.”

While AiG is not an activist organization in the sense that we are not directly involved in lobbying, legislating or litigating to influence school boards on origins issues, our grassroots approach of seeing communities and churches impacted (e.g., through major regional conferences, sometimes involving hundreds of churches in an area) will often rouse local Christians to run for local and state school boards and thus influence the way science should be taught in their public schools. Why not talk to your church leadership about hosting a regional AiG family conference or have our daily radio program aired on more stations in your state? Let’s reclaim the nation one community at a time—and one school board at a time—for biblical truths, through a massive grassroots campaign.


  1. The science standards (approved by the board in 2002) declared that pupils should be able to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” In addition, those standards included a disclaimer that the teaching of intelligent design was not being required.


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