Home > Church and State > The absurdity of the AFA

The absurdity of the AFA

I probably spend too much time reading Agape Press and the AFA‘s website, but it’s just so damn fun. If you haven’t been paying attention, a school district in California tried to teach a class promoting creationism. Not intelligent design, even, but creationism. The twist was that they did it in a philosophy class. There’s some background here and here. The one interesting thing is that the Discovery Institute advised the school to cancel the class. They’ve now canceled the class.

The AFA has now weighed in with a news report of their own:

As a result of the settlement, Americans United has announced that Frazier Mountain High School will be dropping a philosophy class that discusses the highly debated origins theory known as intelligent design, or ID. That same organization was also involved in a case that resulted in Pennsylvania schools being barred from teaching the idea that evolutionary theory cannot explain life’s complexity.

There’s a subtle error here. They weren’t “discussing” ID, they were promoting creationism. Continuing:

Brian Fahling with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy says the court settlement filed yesterday indicates the “tyrannical nature” of people like Barry Lynn, who heads Americans United. Members of that group talk a lot and also talk “a good game about free thought and pluralism in our culture,” the attorney notes, but he feels their actions do not suggest genuine commitment to these ideals.

This is a bizarre canard that we see constantly from groups like the AFA. Not promoting religion in school is not “tyrannical” or suppression of free speech. It simply isn’t.

“The idea that they would go in and strong-arm an agreement from a school district, essentially, to not teach, for instance, intelligent design in the future, is beyond the pale,” Fahling says. Moreover, he contends, it is questionable “whether or not the school district actually has the authority to agree not to provide a course that is otherwise well within constitutional bounds.”

Of course, he’s completely wrong. The promotion of creationism has been ruled unconstitutional. Fahling has to know this. Teaching ID has recently been ruled unconstitutional as well. Any way you slice it, promoting either of them (of course, they’re hardly that different) is not going to survive a lawsuit. AU secured an agreement from the school district not to do that:

Under the terms of the settlement, the course will terminate one week early. The district’s board of trustees has also agreed to language stating, “No school over which the School District has authority, including the High School, shall offer, presently or in the future, the course entitled ‘Philosophy of Design’ or ‘Philosophy of Intelligent Design’ or any other course that promotes or endorses creationism, creation science, or intelligent design.”

Fahling has no clue what he’s talking about. It gets worse, though:

The AFA Law Center spokesman says the school district overreacted to pressure from Americans United and its leader. The zealous church-state separationist Lynn, the pro-family lawyer remarks, “can sniff out a religious purpose in a grape.”

Yeah, because there’s absolutely no religious content in creationism. Nope, none at all.

However, Fahling feels the school district should not have caved in to the liberal activist group’s pressure. He notes, “It was another colossal mistake by the school district to allow Americans United to portray the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in a philosophy course as being the equivalent of teaching it in a science course when, in fact, it is not.”

And again, Fahling is completely wrong. The AU’s position is that intelligent design or creationism can not be promoted in a public school. In any class. This is backed up by the courts. Fahling has to know this.

Intelligent design can be taught constitutionally in classrooms as science, Fahling asserts. And, he adds, the AFA Law Center is willing to defend any school that chooses to do so.

Except, according to the Dover ruling, it can’t. Fahling may want it to be constitutional, but it simply isn’t, according to the courts.

The idea that this guy can be the head of any group or department with “Law Center” in its name is mind-boggling.

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