A public school board in Georgia violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on biology textbooks, a lawyer for a group of parents said Friday.
In closing arguments on the fifth day of a federal trial, lawyer Michael Manley accused the Cobb County School District of using the disclaimers to promote religion in its classrooms.
“They are promoting religious dogma to all students,” said Manley, who noted the stickers referred only to evolution and not to other alternative theories about the origins of the human race.
The stickers, which appeared after pressure from hundreds of parents, many of them religious conservatives, say: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
Linwood Gunn, a lawyer for the suburban Atlanta school board, said the stickers only advised students to keep an open mind and did not promote religion in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school board on behalf of parents who contended that the disclaimers pushed the teaching of creationism and discriminated against non-Christians and followers of other religions.
Creationism rejects modern scientific explanations for the origin and development of life in favor of the idea of supernatural creation by God.
Evolution, which is accepted by biologists, contends life developed from more primitive forms and is dictated by natural selection.
U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper pledged Friday to deliver a speedy verdict in the case.