At an extraordinary school board meeting in Kanawha County, West Virginia, the topic of creation versus evolution was brought up in the context of what is appropriate reading for high school students in public schools.
The school board has been considering the purchase of a few reference copies of the science book Of Pandas and People, which does not treat evolution as fact. Instead, it presents the evidence for “intelligent design”—i.e., that our wonderfully complex world shows evidence of design, not the mindless, chance, random processes of evolution. Copies of the book would be given to science teachers, who are free to use them as reference tools or ignore them altogether—it would not be mandatory reading for instructors (much less students, for that matter).
A former pastor at a Unitarian-Universalist church, Terry Moore, was at the April 20 board meeting. For weeks he has been vigorously opposing the book’s purchase. The opposition from this liberal pastor is bizarre, considering that no one is requiring that teachers (or students) read it; furthermore, the text contains absolutely no biblical doctrines.
Ironically, it was Pastor Moore who spoke at the board meeting to oppose the censoring of a novel by John Irving that is pornographic and profane. Here’s what transpired that evening.
A concerned parent, whose daughter was required to read the profanity-riddled and obscene book by Irving entitled A Prayer for Owen Meany, read portions of that novel to the school board. He was quickly stopped by one of the school board members because of the lewd and profane content. One of the board members, Betty Jarvis, however, urged the man to continue, saying “Hey, if children can read it, I can hear it." The man apologized for the offensive content, but said “This is my daughter’s assigned reading" (Charleston Gazette, April 21). He wanted the board to know what kind of filth his teenager was required to read.
The contents of Irving’s novel caused many in the audience to gasp audibly. Yet Pastor Moore declared: “When you take away the choice [of reading it], then you’re a censor." And this is the same man who wants to forbid science teachers the opportunity just to look at Pandas and People!
The school board members will discuss—and perhaps vote on—purchasing Of Pandas and People for the county’s science teachers at a May 11 session. Read AiG’s previous article on this controversy in West Virginia, which is making headlines in the state’s major newspapers.