Home / News / A Look at the State Republican Platforms: More than 1 in 5 state parties agree, creationism should be taught as science.
A Look at the State Republican Platforms:  More than 1 in 5 state parties agree, creationism should be taught as science.

A Look at the State Republican Platforms: More than 1 in 5 state parties agree, creationism should be taught as science.

Some religious right leaders believe that public schools are “indoctrination” centers run by godless liberals and that the US Department of Education needs to be abolished to pave the way for Judeo-Christian based education. They are opposed to the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools, with some claiming that the theory of evolution is an “atheistic religion” and others simply calling evolution a wild-eyed “theory” with no basis in fact . They choose to ignore the scientific definition of a theory — a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

An overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts evolution as the dominant scientific theory of biological origin but a number of state Republican platforms, echoing the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists, say that the “controversy” about evolution should be taught in public schools. In fact, our review of Republican platforms indicates that more than 1 out of 5 state Republican parties believe that creationism and/or intelligent design should be taught as science.  Out of the 32 platforms reviewed, 8 supported the notion that creationism/intelligent design had a place in science classes, with no reprisal.

[stextbox id="info" caption="This story is part of an 8-part series..."]

(1) Church, state, and an overview of state Republican platform trends.

(2) Our godly heritage and religious liberty.

(3) Our patriotic Christian nation, from K-12.

(4) More than 1 in 5 Republican parties agree: Creationism should be taught as science.

(5) God bless the zygotes.

(6) The gays and minorities must be marginalized to save America!

(7) With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).

(8) Getting America back on track with faith-based programs.

Source materials (links to quoted materials).

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Diminishing Standards and "Indoctrination."

Along with the erosion of science, state GOP parties appear to call for the erosion of standards in education. For instance, the Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming Republican Party platforms all call for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. According to the government's website, the Department of Education was created in 1980 to "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access."

Texas specifically calls for the elimination of educational standards in private education and critical thinking in public education:

Private Education – We believe that parents and legal guardians may choose to educate their children in private schools to include, but not limited to, home schools and parochial schools without government interference, through definition, regulation, accreditation, licensing, or testing.

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Rick SantorumEchoing the sentiments of Sen. Rick Santorum during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, the State of Washington’s Republicans allude that higher education serves to “indoctrinate” students:

Colleges and universities should focus on promoting academic freedom by emphasizing courses that promote understanding and practical application of each discipline and avoid indoctrination and political correctness.

Teaching the Controversy.

State Republican platforms that specifically state that teachers should be able to teach creationism or intelligent design in science classes include:

  • Alaska;
  • Iowa;
  • Minnesota;
  • North Dakota;
  • Oklahoma; and
  • Texas.

Missouri and Wisconsin Republicans think that the local school boards should have discretion about whether they should teach “the controversy.”

Indepth Review of State GOP Platforms on Creationism/Intelligent Design.

In Subsection III.E of its 2010 platform, Alaskan Republicans state:

We support teaching various models and theories for the origins of life and our universe, including Creation Science or Intelligent Design. If evolution outside a species (macro-evolution) is taught, evidence disputing the theory should also be presented.

Iowa’s Republican platform misrepresents the definition of a scientific theory and also claims that global warming is based on fraudulent science:

6.20 We support a balanced presentation of creationism and evolution in public schools. We believe that textbooks and teachers should clarify that Darwinian evolution is only a theory and not scientific fact. [pullquote] We believe that textbooks and teachers should clarify that Darwinian evolution is only a theory and not scientific fact.[/pullquote]

6.21 We recommend that tax-funded school libraries include intelligent design and creationism materials on their bookshelves.

9.2 We believe that claims of human-caused global warming are based on fraudulent, inaccurate information and that legislation and policy based on this information is detrimental to the wellbeing of the United States. We deplore extremist scare tactics not based on scientific evidence. We recognize it as a plan to take our freedoms and liberties away from the people through legislation.

9.3 We call for closing government branches, offices, and agencies that strip us of economic prosperity in the name of saving the environment. We should eliminate policies and rules related to this.

The Minnesota Republican platform states:

We should continue to encourage the voluntary expression of religious beliefs and traditions of students. Specifically, educators who discuss creation science should be protected from disciplinary action and science standards should recognize that there is controversy pertaining to the theory of evolution.

The Missouri GOP’s draft platform calls for “Empowering local school districts to determine how best to handle the teaching of creationism and the theory of evolution.”

North Dakota Republicans passed Resolution Number 15: Origin of Life, in 2012:

WHEREAS: There is scientific evidence and opinion for and against the theory of evolution and other theories about the origin of life, such as intelligent design theory; and

WHEREAS: A person's beliefs about the origins of life have a great influence on their worldview;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: The North Dakota Republican Party supports the rights of teachers to teach and discuss the scientific evidence for and against multiple theories of the origin of life, including intelligent design and evolution.

The 2011 platform of the Republican Party of Oklahoma states in its section on education:

4. We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught, both should receive equal funding, class time, and material. [pullquote]We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught, both should receive equal funding, class time, and material.  [/pullquote] Teachers should have the freedom to cover creation science without fear of intimidation or reprimand.

The Texas Republican Party, in its 2012 platform, characterized the theory of evolution as a “controversial theory” and implied that creationism is a legitimate scientific theory:

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

The Wisconsin GOP’s platform boldly states that, “We believe public schools should develop curriculum which is content rich, fact-based and encourages critical thinking,” but then adds in a resolution:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in convention assembled, endorses that the U. S. Department of Education should be abolished, leaving education decision making at the state, local or personal level, urges legislation adopting alternative standards for teacher licensing that do not require a degree in education or student-teaching experience but have practical expert experience in a given subject area as determined by local school boards, and believes that school boards should have discretion as to the teaching of intelligent design within their districts.

Related Sections in this Story:

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • LeeBowman

    "Some religious right leaders believe that public schools are “indoctrination” centers run by godless liberals and that the US Department of Education needs to be abolished to pave the way for Judeo-Christian based education. "

    And they always have, but most stop short of advocating a theocracy.

    "They are opposed to the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools, with some claiming that the theory of evolution is an “atheistic religion” and others simply calling evolution a wild-eyed “theory” with no basis in fact."

    Evolutionary theory as currently stated is indeed atheistic, claiming that all of natural biologic phenomena is the result solely of natural causation.

    "They choose to ignore the scientific definition of a theory — a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence."

    There are indeed some from the religious right who might take that extreme position, but a more mainstream position of religionists today is that evolution is a valid theory, with the caveat that 'design' may well be a factor in its progression.

    "An overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts evolution as the dominant scientific theory of biological origin … "

    Correct, but its inherent premise of solely natural causation rather than intelligent input at key points, the essence of the current controversey, has not been confirmed IMO. Parallels drawn from observable adaptive change has been extrapolated as proof of natural causation, but fail as proof of *totally* natural (uncaused cause) production of novelty and complexity, due to (1) statistical improbabilities, and (2) no actual parallels observed, ergo an actual instance of radical species change (macroevolution).

    There may well be those withing the science community that would agree with the above, but not publicly due to career endangerment. And there have been no totally anonomous sureveys conducted to attempt to glean that information. So the statement that, "An overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts evolution" is unproven, with regard to an acceptatnce of solely natural causation, an atheistic premise.

    " … but a number of state Republican platforms, echoing the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists, say that the “controversy” about evolution should be taught in public schools."

    We cannot ignore the hard fact that *intervention* in the historic/ forensic processes of the evolution is a valid premis to consider, and to fit the mold of 'objective science', needs to be allowed as an 'ancillary hypothesis' to co-exist with the hypothesis of 'natural causation (primarily via random mutations).

    Allowed in by science as a further investigative parameter would ease the situation, and possibly end the current political brouhaha that has severely demeaned science. And no, religion will *never* be taught in a science class, a strawman of non-ending sophistry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/emsternberg E. Mathieu Sternberg

      Lee: Do you believe that Newtonian physics is "atheistic", in that it demands that all natural physical phenomena, from the orbit of the planets to the beating of your heart, happen as the result of strictly natural causation?

      Do you believe that Lewentonian chemistry is "atheistic", in that it demands that all natural, chemical phenemona, from the dissolution of salt into seawater to the conversion of sugar into adenosine triphosphate within your michtochondria, are the result of strictly natural causation?

      I've never understood why physics and chemistry get a pass.

      • Robert Johnson

        Well said Mathieu. One thing I can't understand is why Christians can't entertain the idea that a God could have used evolution as a tool for creating life. It also annoys me that they want to promote religious views in schools. You don't hear Christians promoting the Hindu idea that Lord Brahma created the universe. If Christians want to believe that the universe was created then who is to say that the Hindus have it wrong.

      • LeeBowman

        First let me qualify my earlier statement that
        "Evolutionary theory as currently stated is indeed atheistic … " I meant that not the data, but a particular
        consensus assessment of the data was atheistic.
        So no, physical laws are neither theistic nor atheistic, since they
        operate totally naturally.

        A theistic position can mean everything from 'a supreme God
        created everything, performs miracles, answers prayer, and rules everyone's
        lives and outcomes' to 'evolutionary theory is correct but with directed input
        a certain points.' I hold to the second
        summation, but based on evidentiary data, not religious
        dogma.

        I currently hold to a tentative and subjective opinion that
        the data strongly implies:

        – Multiple designers,
        over vast time, and possibly competitive

        – Bioforms are not
        end-point life forms, but vehicles for extant life forms

        – Spirit based
        entities involved in biologic innovations

        – We are spirit forms

        – We ourselves may be
        in a direct lineage with the bioform designers

        These tentative precepts are much more in accordance with
        the data, ergo the vast array of predators, parasites and disease. Competitive bioform designers (genome
        tweakers) would likely work toward producing a competitive arena. And if we/they inhabit biologic bodies for an
        adventure of sorts, voilla (success).

        So no, physical laws operate independent of agent
        interactions, and the source of matter and energy is most likely of natural
        causes as well, but where design is evident (biologic forms of extreme
        complexity), intelligent agents, possible linked to a hierarchy of agencies,
        are likely operatives in evolutionary outcomes (phyla). And yes, at some distant point we may have a
        direct lineage relationship to those entities.

        I saw from your facebook page that you have an interest in
        science fiction. Some of the scenarios
        tossed around may have tinges of reality.
        Actual 'reality' may be even more astounding.

        • KCDugan

          The real question Lee, is whether you're theory leads to a testable claim. If not, it's not yet science, just conjecture. Some conjecture receives serious attention, like String "M" theory, where the math it's based in allows for the potential for testable claims, even if the state of current experimental physics doesn't yet allow for detection. The triumph of physics and chemistry and now molecular and evolutionary biology is that they produce solid results. Solid enough to build nano-scale machines, to fly exploratory craft past multiple planets and moons, solid enough to manufacture custom molecules with predictive properties, solid enough to show incremental evolutionary change between related organisms.

          Because discovery is almost always made at the edge of detection, science sometimes backtracks or finds a better fitting theory when quantity and precision of data improves. But it's always self-critical and truth seeking. Its humility is its strength. While Religions and 'spiritualists' and quacks peddle untestable theories on the masses that sound plausible to the under-educated; as Carl Sagan said, "science delivers the goods".

          Name one, just one, fundamental real-life enhancing result of 'Spirit' theory research.

          Theories of "Spirit" don't reduce mathematically to allow testable predictions. When they have (as in Psychic research or studies on Intercessory prayer) the results of well designed and controlled studies have always been negative. You can also analyze the outcome curve in meta studies, where the better designed and run the study is, the more minimal and random the result becomes; an asymptotic approach to non-existence of effect. Proof of absence.
          We need to be teaching our kids real testable science, not silly untestable theories. Yes it's important to teach them to dream and speculate, but in science class, lets keep it real. The question shouldn't be "What do some people think?" but rather "How could we prove that?"

          • LeeBowman

            "The real question, is whether you're theory leads to a
            testable claim. If not, it's not yet science, just conjecture."

            I don't propose MDT or ID as a theory, just investigative
            premises. A spirit based realm I do
            consider as testable, but at least for now, not by empirical replicable
            experiments. It appears to be quantum
            based, and may indeed be empirically testable in the near future. This would be limited to its physical
            structure only, and not likely to any communicative endeavors with an intelligence
            within.

            But there are theories and hypotheses that are not
            empirically demonstrable, such as evolutionary theory with regard to
            'forensic' events of a historic nature. Studies involving attempted 'parallel' or 'similar'
            evolutionary processes, either observed in nature or done in a culture dish or
            drosophila enclosure are noble efforts to corroborate evolutionary processes,
            but are NOT empirical tests of actual forensic events. Thus, evolutionary theory is not science,
            when adjudicated in regard to actual empirical tests.

            "Because discovery is almost always made at the edge of
            detection, science sometimes backtracks or finds a better fitting theory when
            quantity and precision of data improves."

            And this would apply to the detection and verification of
            presently undefined realms (dimensions containing spirit based consciousness
            for one), which we have touched upon (quantum physics).

            "But it's always self-critical and truth seeking. Its
            humility is its strength. While Religions and 'spiritualists' and quacks peddle
            untestable theories on the masses that sound plausible to the under-educated;
            as Carl Sagan said, "science delivers the goods".

            While religionists throughout the ages have referenced a
            spiritual dimension, research in this area would involve empirically testable
            means for confirmation, not a reference to their beliefs or writings. While it is assumed by the science community
            that *all* religious precepts are and have been based on superstition and contrived
            beliefs, there may be a component of underlying validity. If so, science will uncover that by its own
            means.

            "Name one, just one, fundamental real-life enhancing result of
            'Spirit' theory research."

            There is ongoing research, but not by NIH or NAS funded
            institutions, since it is considered to be non-science.

            "Theories of "Spirit" don't reduce
            mathematically to allow testable predictions. When they have (as in Psychic
            research or studies on Intercessory prayer) the results of well designed and
            controlled studies have always been negative."

            Psychic research involving "prayer", actually not
            prayer, but attempted communicative interchanges has been done, but not by
            mainstream scientists that I am aware of.
            The studies that have been 'negative' are not necessarily valid
            confirmatory attempts. And much of the
            neurological tests run have been interpreted as
            neural-function-only, but conclusions of studies are largely subjectively
            based, and can (and often do) embrace erroneous conclusions.

            Science is objective and concise by definition, but not
            necessarily in practice, due to inherent human subjectivity, often colored with
            an a priori bias (the need to verify a prediction).

            "We need to be teaching our kids real testable science,
            not silly untestable theories. Yes it's important to teach them to dream and
            speculate, but in science class, let's keep it real. The question shouldn't be
            "What do some people think?" but rather "How could we prove
            that?"

            The things I have proposed are neither silly nor dream
            based. I have no pre-suppositions that I
            strive to authenticate. I have observed directly
            and empirically data confirmatory of other (and unknown) intelligences via
            experiments I did at age 20 to 22.
            Extending that data to MDT (not actually a theory, but a tentative
            postulate) is based on deductive logic and observation (a competitive biologic realm,
            extensive OOB and NDE observations, unanswered quantum physics questions, my
            own experiments), and all I ask is that untoward and even fascist regulatory attempts
            by AAAS* and NAS be moderated, so that science can proceed unimpeded.

            * http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml

  • mafarmerga

    Science (and by inclusion biological evolution) are not atheistic. They are agnostic, making no claim one way or another about the existence of God. Stating that all known biological diversity can arise through natural processes is a completely different thing from saying that there is unifying spiritual connection in the universe. As Gould correctly concluded, these are two non-overlapping magisteria.

    • flippertie

      The 'non-overlapping magesteria" idea is a fudge to try and avoid upsetting religious believers and stop them interfering in scientific research.

      ID and Theistic Evolution both claim there has been external intervention in the otherwise natural processes of evolution.

      The search for evidence of such intervention is a legitimate scientific enquiry – and brings the question of the existence of God/gods/designers into the Scientific 'magesterium'.

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  • beefcake24

    This really makes me sad. When are we as a human society going to let go of these prehistoric myths and look at nature as it is. I really don't see civilization progressing to its potential and where I dream it will once be without making this crucial step. And, whether deliberately or not, these people are doing everything in their power to prevent us from achieving our potential. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be associated with the human species.

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