Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 01:05:55 EDT

On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 8:25 AM, David Opderbeck <>

> In response to Dave C.'s questions below: this is a place where the
> establishment clause jurisprudence gets a little hazy, and where local
> school districts very often go too far in censoring materials. Banning
> books from the library seems ludicrous on constitutional grounds. It may be
> a different matter if the library staff is purposefully "stocking" the
> library with materials favoring one religion, but including books by Behe or
> Johnson is not, in itself, a constitutional issue.

Dave, I am going to have to show you the videotape.

> It also should not be unconstitutional to discuss ID or other religious
> ideas in a philosophy or history class that is designed to provide an
> overview of various perspectives on an issue.

I agree, but to defend what you just said is going to take an action.

> A public school should certainly be able to offer a "History of
> Interaction Between Religion and Science" class, for example, assuming again
> that the material is not loaded in favor of a particular religious view.
> The question of "loading," however, could be a difficult one -- the
> establishment clause's test for what constitutes an "endorsement" of
> religion is rather fuzzy, and unfortunately there is a history of school
> boards (as in Dover PA) trying to do exactly this sort of thing.

I live in the anti-Dover district. Same stacking - opposite direction.

A biology teacher told me he used Behe's book in class before the Steiner
case came along. I suspect he can no longer do so for fear of losing his

But all my board members, as far as I know, (except the new guy who I dont
know) are church going people. Who apparently believe in some form of
theological naturalism. They have declared methodological naturalism as the
basis of the science curriculum. (Well, that is what board member Bruce
Endler said at the board meeting when the Mike Steiner case was considered.
They took a vote based on the discussion. Which makes it official as far as
I know). Interestingly , Endler is reported to be the guy who allegedly
defended a book on necrophilia in an elementary school library - based on
first amendment freedom grounds. I wasn't there to witness that one.

> On Sun, Apr 27, 2008 at 11:54 PM, David Clounch <>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 7:56 AM, David Opderbeck <>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Dave Clounch asks: Given Barr's statements on the strong evidence for
> > > cosmological design, is it constitututional to inform school children that
> > > cosmological design is supported by science?
> > >
> > > I respond: Not in those terms. That would be an official endorsement
> > > of religion. It might be possible, in the context of a comparative religion
> > > or philosophy class, to discuss such a claim generally.
> > >
> > Dave O,
> >
> > I think if schools would take scientific materialism and various forms
> > of naturalism down the hallway into the history or philosophy class, then
> > I'd be a happy camper.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Dave C
> > PS, A couple more questions, if I may:
> >
> > 1)So, if Lisa Randall wrote in her book on Brane Theory that physics
> > has theological implications, this book too must be disallowed from the
> > premises?
> >
> > 2) What about a school district such as mine who declared that these
> > sorts of materials cannot even be used in history or philosophy class, as
> > you suggested? Every book, every scrap of paper, everywhere, was declared
> > as "must support the curriculum". And since Behe's and Johnsons books are
> > said to not support the curriculum they arent allowed anywhere. Not in any
> > classroom nor in the libraries. Not in history class. Not in philosophy
> > class. Perhaps not even in backpacks. Phillip Johnson's book specifically
> > was banned because one paragraph said the book "explains a Christian world
> > view". That was what the Connie O'Sullivan stated as the reason it must be
> > disallowed. Makes me wonder, must Paul Johnson's 'History of Christianity"
> > be thrown out too? And Barr's book? Are these really the actions of
> > someone seeking neutrality? And what about the Koran and Islamic books on
> > science? All expelled?
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Tue Apr 29 01:06:37 2008

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