U.S.Notes & Quotes

Darwin on the Run in Public Schools

THE WASHINGTON POST, Aug. 8—The Kansas Sate Board of Education has adopted new standards for teaching biology that criitics say will virtually eliminate any consideration of evolution from the science curriculum in the state's public schools.

At least eight other states are “trying to remove evolution from state science standards or water down the concepts, with varying degrees of success,” reported Hanna Rosin.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that Louisiana could not mandate that schools give equal time to teaching creation science, Rosin reported, creation activists have sought to undermine evolution on scientific grounds.

“Religious conservatives have tapped into skepticism from inside and outside the scientific community to discredit evolution, seizing on routine disagreements among scientists to disparage it as nothing more than a theory,” said Rosin.

A recent Gallup poll found some 44% of Americans believed “God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Forty percent thought God guided evolution. Only one in 10 of those surveyed held a strict evolutionist perspective that excludes God.

Megachurches Shrinking

RELIGION TODAY, Aug. 10—“Megachurches are looking for fresh ideas to help them grow again,” reported the e-mail Christian news service.

Megachurches, defined as churches with 2,000 or more members, expanded rapidly for two decades, attracting congregants to the evangelical Protestant churches.

“But growth has slowed markedly, and the enormous congregations are making big changes to adapt their programs to new social realities,” said Religion Today.

Pastors said dissatisfied members want something more than contemporary music, minidramas and sermons that offer life lessons. They are looking for community and a sense of belonging.

More oversight may be helpful, said Scott Thumma of Hartford Seminary, who has researched megachurches. Because megachurches function independently, they have few checks and balances, he said. “That leaves room for abuses. Organizational power of a big budget and staff sets up problems.”

Victory for Religious Rights

REUTERS, Aug. 12—A federal court ruled Aug. 10 that the Minnesota Department of Corrections was wrong to discipline employees who read Bibles in silent protest during a training session on homosexuality in the workplace, Reuters said.

“There was never any reason for our clients to be forced to listen to state-sponsored indoctrination about the acceptability of the homosexual lifestyle,” attorney Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice told the wire service.

The court ordered that written reprimands given to the employees be withdrawn. “This is a major victory for the rights of religious believers who are singled out and punished for their religious beliefs,” Manion said.