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Evolution Debate Continues
August 14th 1999 11:18 P.M. EDT
ACLU, other groups threaten lawsuits in evolution debate
By John Hanna, Associated Press, 08/14/99 04:16

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) The American Civil Liberties Union says school districts could face lawsuits if they attempt to teach creationism in wake of the state school board's recent decision to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution.

The ACLU, in a letter Friday to school superintendents, warned the districts about adopting ''religiously-based standards'' in teaching science.

The ACLU also noted U.S. Supreme Court decisions that forbid the teaching of creationism, the belief that a higher power created the universe, because of its religious foundation.

People for the American Way and Americans United for the Separation of Church and States also said they would consider lawsuits if religion-based standards were implemented.

The board adopted new testing standards Wednesday that play down the scientific importance of evolution, particularly the theory that humans descended from apes and other lower species.

Local school districts will continue to decide what subjects are taught in their classrooms, but critics and supporters of the new standards think they could influence some districts' lesson plans.

Supporters of the new standards said the criticism was like running and yelling, ''The sky is falling.''

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