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Warning Label on Darwin Sows Division in Suburbia

"I question. It's part of my culture," says Jeffrey Selman, a parent who sued to remove the stickers from textbooks. (By Todd Mcqueen -- Marietta Daily Journal Via Associated Press)

"I'm sure they're told by their parents, 'Go ahead and listen to the lessons, but you don't have to believe them,' " said McCoy, who holds workshops for teachers on how to present evolution. "Some teachers aren't comfortable with it themselves."

When Cobb County turned to selecting new biology textbooks in late 2001, that widespread unease developed into parent anger that spurred the school board to action.

Sparked by her son's interest in dinosaurs, Rogers read several books casting doubt on evolution science, including "Icons of Evolution" by Jonathan Wells and "Darwin on Trial" by Phillip E. Johnson. Once she saw the textbooks under consideration, she was appalled.

"Humans are fundamentally not exceptional because we came from the same evolutionary source as every other species," she read from one during an interview.

"That offends me," she said. "That has no business being in a science textbook. That's religion."

She points to another passage, in "Biology: Concepts & Connections," that she says is irreverent. The passage suggests that had human knees and spines been "designed" for our bipedal posture, rather than borrowed from four-legged ancestors, they probably would "be less subject to sprains, spasms and other common injuries."

Finding fault with the design of humans exasperates her.

"That's slamming God," she said.

Her disappointment with the texts led her to launch a petition drive among friends and church groups that netted 2,300 signatures. After a contentious meeting, the school board voted to affix the stickers to several textbooks, warning: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Board members described it as a way of accommodating the divergent views in the community -- to "safeguard" the feelings of the students -- while continuing to teach evolution.

But after hearing Selman's case, presented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper in January ordered the stickers removed.

An "informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion," he wrote. The sticker "sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders."

The school board has appealed, and arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit are scheduled for Thursday.


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