Kansas in June adopted a set of science standards to be implemented in kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms statewide, and Christian groups have filed a pair of federal lawsuits to block the new curriculum.
According to the Pacific Justice Institute, the new public school science standards could create “a hostile learning environment for those of faith" by not teaching the Christian creation story as an alternative theory to evolution.
The suit alleges that the new standards will “promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”
But the curriculum does not in fact promote or favor any religious belief over another, as evolution is not a religious belief.
The statement went on to say that "it's an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students -- as young as five -- to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong."
The curriculum also does not call for any teacher to tell any student their faith is wrong. Further, many American Christians do not find evolution -- the primary point of contention -- incompatible with their belief in a creator.
Another lawsuit, filed Sept. 26 by Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE, Inc.) also seeks to block the science standards.
COPE said that the new standards “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview,” which the group argues is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
COPE says the "concealed Orthodoxy" of the science standards will undermine the faithful.
“The Orthodoxy is not religiously neutral as it permits only materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions,” the group said. Questions like “Where do we come from?” can only be answered honestly by religion, the group said.
COPE's statement went on to say, apparently without irony, that “teaching the materialistic/atheistic ideas to primary school children whose minds are susceptible to blindly accepting them as true” is unconstitutional and dangerous.
The science standards incorporate "materialistic" ideas only insofar as they have to be observable through the scientific method, and "atheistic" answers only insofar as they make no mention of any deity.
Both suits are calling for an injunction against the Next Generation Science Standards and the corresponding lesson plan handbook, "Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas."
If they can't block the curriculum entirely, PJI will settle for stopping the standards for grades K-8, and would allow the standards for grades 9-12 as long as the standards are objective "so as to produce a religiously neutral effect with respect to theistic and non-theistic religion."