Thursday, April 2, 2009

Candidates discuss views on Creationism in Lincoln

OK, I am a little more than concerned about an answer given by someone running for a Nebraska school board on whether or not they support teaching Creationism in school.

Here is my dilemma, a candidate for the Lincoln Board of Education, Kevin Keller, was asked about his thoughts on evolution -- something apparently not addressed in a little handout the candidate was distributing. Keller replied that he wished creationism was taught in place of evolution, but should at least be taught alongside evolution.

That in itself doesn't bother me. I prefer a candidate state where they stand rather than try and 'stealth' in as we saw a number of times in recent years. It was later that I saw need for concern. AFTER the fact, I guess during the interview that led to this article, Keller tap danced and said he didn’t get time to further explain his thoughts before Edwards closed his door. He would have said creationism is his personal, faith-based belief. But if elected, he would not propose adding creationism to Lincoln Public Schools’ science curriculum.

“My personal view on (creationism), quite frankly, has no role in my serving as a school board member,” said Keller, who received a much-coveted endorsement by the Lincoln Education Association’s political action committee."
So my question is did he lie to the constituent, or would he have lied giving a little more time to think things through? My issue is that there is a world of difference between 'wishing Creationism would replace evolution' and 'his beliefs having no role in him fulfilling his office'! There is a gulf between those two positions that you can drive an oil tanker through.

He might not see it as lying, but I certainly do. He uttered something that caused the constituent to close his door on him and write a letter to the local paper about it. In my opinion the only thing Keller did right was not trying to deny his original statement. But his tap dancing raised plenty of questions. If, nothing else, it brought this issue out and many of the other candidates were asked the same question. I believe some are obviously pandering for votes and trying to sound middle of the road, but a few candidates are very specific in their position.

I remember a report I read a number of years ago on how Christian Groups 'teaching' members how to run for school boards and recommending their religious affiliation remain hidden because that message may not appeal to some voters. Just did a Google and hit on "Christian Group Coaches School Board Candidates" from 1995. It refers to a mode,l used in San Diego specifically, used successfully to get more Christian Right members on the school Board.

Lenny Flack, at the Creation 'Science' Debunked website had this to say:
"Most often, fundamentalist and creationist candidates for local office try to hide their religious agendas while they are running for office (since few of the items on the fundamentalist agenda have much popular support). Instead, they will run a campaign around such traditional conservative issues as local taxes, cutting waste, etc. Only once they are elected and in office will the real agenda be shown (a strategy which has earned such candidates the moniker "stealth candidates")."
This issue has gotten a lot of press over the past 10 years, so hopefully candidates who are trying to fly under the Radar find it much harder to do. However communities need to keep an eye on the school boards and make sure they didn't elect a 'stealth' candidate. I see echoes of that here. Kevin Keller would have changed his response to the point that it might have allowed him to stealth in. I bet the next time that question comes up he will give a very different answer and leave a very different opinion of himself with a constituent, one that will not reflect his 'wish that Creationism replace evolution. That, folks, worries me and it should worry everyone.

I recall an interview with Don McLeroy who also said his position as the head of the Texas State School Board would be in no way be impacted by his personal beliefs. Anyone who followed the recent Texas voting can see that it was just plain untrue! McLeroy was certainly influenced by his beliefs and tried to use those beliefs to determine what would be taught in Texas! He said it himself in the Austin American-Statesman:
"When I became a Christian, it was whole-hearted," he said. "I was totally convinced the biblical principles were right, and I was totally convinced that it could be accurate scientifically."
While he wasn't as blatant as one of the Dover PA School Board members, or I should say previous Dover PA School Board member who said something to the effect of "Jesus died for our sins, isn't anyone going to stand up for him!" when discussing the teaching of Creationism in science class -- something he later denied under oath, but was confirmed independently. Is Kevin Keller heading down that same road?

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