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- Dated 12 February 2008.
Soon, the Florida Board of Education will vote on the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in the science curriculum of Florida public schools. Several individual school districts have passed resolutions calling for "balance" by the teaching of intelligent design, a process which has culminated in a public meeting, where Florida concerned citizens voiced their opinions on the issue to the Florida Board of Education, by video link. The meeting where this occurred, which has been recorded and can be viewed by the public, is a repository of ignorance. It's quite clear that the objections to evolution are in fact religiously based objections, not even couched, in most instances, in the rhetoric of "creation science." The question is, why is this good news?
Recall Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, in which the Dover Area School District sought to teach intelligent design as science, under the domination of the uncharismatic creationist blowhard (cum drug addict) Bill Buckingham. Prior to implementing the policy, Buckingham stated numerous times that this policy was being implemented to ensure that science was taught in a religiously-charged manner: his rhetoric repeatedly referred to Jesus and God, and how evolution disrespected these fellows, and the federal district court relied upon this record to rule that teaching intelligent design was, in this case, an establishment of religion.
As it turns out, the presence of religious rhetoric and purpose were crucial to the outcome of Kitzmiller. Intelligent design was "religion" because, in the legal language applied, a reasonable person (based on the events surrounding the policy's adoption) could have concluded that it had the purpose or effect of establishing a particular religion. In short, when a school board tries to teach intelligent design, the level of religious rhetoric is directly related to the likelihood of its unconstitutionality under the Lemon v. Kurtzmann test.
What this past board meeting has given us is enough religious rhetoric to say that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if the Board of Education adopts intelligent design, there will be a smoking gun on the "religious entanglement" issue. Now, no matter what, if Florida tries to teach intelligent design, they'll lose.