Wisconsin pastors step up to challenge creationism

As blogged in PT comments on December 17, nearly 200 Wisconsin pastors recently spoke up in opposition to creationist-inspired policy in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, requiring the teaching of “the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.” (See Pastors protest district policy and the NCSE update story).

Yesterday, Rob Zaleski of the The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin wrote a detailed column on the situation in Grantsburg, and interviewed one of the 187 pastors, Tisha Brown, that signed the statement opposing the policy, as well as the UW dean, Michael Zimmerman, that organized the effort. Read Zaleski’s interesting article, and send him feedback if you like it.

Still, while the situation remains “murky,” Zimmerman says there’s no question that the clergy letter in particular has had an effect.

“Many, many people in the (Grantsburg) community and beyond are now well aware that many, many Christian clergy members have no problems with evolution,” he says. “This in itself is an important accomplishment. It’s essential that people realize that the fight is not between religion and science but rather between those who hold a very narrow, fundamentalist perspective and the rest of the world.”

Brown, a graduate of Monroe High School, says she just hopes that right-wing extremists now understand they “can’t just waltz in” and dictate how we live - as they’ve done elsewhere.

Though it’s undoubtedly been weakened by years of budget cuts, Wisconsin’s educational system is still one of the best in the nation, she notes.

“I don’t think we want to jeopardize that.”

I will also quote the pastors’ letter on PT for posterity:


Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey information but to transform hearts.

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rest. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

source: NCSE updates