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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/07/09

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

The first year of Randy Moore's "People & Places" column is now
available on-line. Chris Comer's appeal failed -- the Texas Education
Agency's policy requiring "neutrality" of its employees when "talking
about evolution and creationism" is not unconstitutional. And NCSE's
Eugenie C. Scott is profiled in the Capital Times.


In 2009, Randy Moore began to write a regular column for Reports of
the NCSE in which he introduced the people and places of the
creationism/evolution controversy. Now the first year of his "People &
Places" column is available on-line. Moore visits Siccar Point,
"arguably the most important geological site in the world"; the Temple
of Serapis, which appears on the frontispiece of Charles Lyell's
Principles of Geology; Dayton, Tennessee, which hosted the Scopes
trial in 1925; William Paley, whose Natural Theology influenced
Darwin's thought; and the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas
-- both before and after its remodel.

A long-time member of NCSE and a recipient of its Friend of Darwin
award, Moore is Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota.
If you like his "People & Places" column, you'll be sure to love More
than Darwin: An Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the
Evolution-Creationism Controversy (Greenwood Press, 2008; University
of California Press, 2009), coauthored with Mark Decker. NCSE's Glenn
Branch praised it as "[a] marvelous trove for the curious browser, who
will be constantly tempted to pull the book off the shelf to read a
random entry and discover a new fact or two." And you'll also want to
subscribe to Reports of the NCSE!

For the first year of Moore's column, visit: 

For Branch's review of More than Darwin, visit: 

And for information about subscribing to Reports of the NCSE, visit: 


In a decision issued on July 2, 2010, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court's decision that the
Texas Education Agency's policy requiring "neutrality" of its
employees when "talking about evolution and creationism" is not
unconstitutional. The case, Comer v. Scott, was filed by Chris Comer,
the former director of the Texas Education Agency, who was forced to
resign from her post in November 2007 after she forwarded a note
announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. In June 2008, Comer filed suit,
arguing that the agency's neutrality policy violates the Establishment
Clause. Her lawsuit was dismissed in March 2009, but she appealed the
decision, and oral arguments were heard in April 2010.

Writing for a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, Fortunato
Benavides explained (pp. 11-12), "Upon review of the record and
applicable law, we cannot conclude that TEA's neutrality policy has
the 'primary effect' of advancing religion. The fact that Comer and
other TEA employees cannot speak out for or against possible subjects
to be included in the curriculum ... does not primarily advance
religion, but rather, serves to preserve TEA's administrative role in
facilitating the curriculum review process for the Board. ... Thus, we
find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee's
inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for
the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s
endorsement of a particular religion."

For the Fifth Circuit's ruling (PDF), visit: 

For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: 


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was profiled by Phil
Haslanger in the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times (July 1, 2010). "In
a place like Madison, it's easy to think about the battles over
teaching evolution in schools as something from another time and
place," Hanslanger writes. But -- as Scott, who was born and raised in
Wisconsin, told him -- "You don't have to go far to find a teacher
afraid of teaching evolution or who is teaching creationism ...
Teachers will often soft-pedal evolution or skip over it if there is a
chance of a confrontation." Additionally, as attempts to have
creationism taught explicitly have faltered, the new trend is to
require or encourage teachers to present what are billed as the
"weaknesses of evolution" -- which, Scott explained, would be "wasting
time teaching students a bunch of erroneous information." Haslanger, a
regular columnist for the Capital Times, is pastor of Memorial United
Church of Christ in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

For the profile, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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