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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 17:53 GMT
Parents call for 'creationism' lessons
Fossil
Evolution is part of a wider struggle over the place of religion in schools
Almost half of parents in the United States believe the theory of evolution is "unproven" and a majority want classroom lessons in "creationism", suggests a survey.

But the survey, commissioned by the People for the American Way Foundation, found an even larger majority believing that Darwin's theory of evolution should also be taught.

The survey found that two thirds of respondents did not see anything contradictory in the two versions of the origins of mankind - concluding that it was possible to believe both in the scientific account of evolution and the Biblical story of creation.

10 commandments

"You can read the poll as half empty or half full,'' said Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of polling company DYG.

The survey follows a series of disputes over the teaching of the origin of the species in schools in a number of states.

Campaigners wanting the teaching of the Biblical creationist story last year succeeded in removing references to evolution in school tests in Kentucky.

"To put it simply, this poll shows that most Americans believe that God created evolution," said Ralph Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation.

"One of the most remarkable things this poll shows us is that, with this kind of broad public support, there shouldn't be any controversy at all about teaching evolution," said Mr Neas.

Warning

"The fact that there is a debate shows us how effective a very small but very vocal group has been in imposing their views on our schools.

"The poll should also be a warning to public officials and schools. If they cave in to pressure to eliminate evolution or to force creationism into the science classroom, they will be acting against the views and wishes of most Americans. "

The debate over creationism has been part of a wider struggle between campaigners who want to keep religion out of state education and their opponents who want a higher profile for Christian beliefs and values in schools.

This has included disputes over the posting of the 10 commandments in classrooms and the public saying of prayers before school football games.

DYG interviewed "a representative national survey of 1,500 Americans" by telephone last November.

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See also:

07 Oct 99 | Education
Evolution removed from school tests
17 Dec 99 | Education
Creation story still banned in class
24 Nov 99 | Education
Ten Commandments schools back down
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