Rolling Stone got it wrong

Last month Rolling Stone covered the Dover trial, Darwinian Warfare. ACLU-PA legal director Vic Walczak submitted the letter below, which RS has yet to print.

To the editor:

As the ACLU lawyer in the Intelligent Design case, I write on behalf of the plaintiffs and their lawyers to voice two objections to last week’s article on the Kitzmiller v. Dover School District lawsuit.

First, the story’s sensationalist theme, that support for evolution cannot be reconciled with a belief in God, is simply wrong. Our lead-off expert, Brown University biology professor Kenneth Miller, is a man of deep faith; most of the eleven Dover-parent plaintiffs adhere to one religion or another; and three of the plaintiffs teach Bible school. While some people remain conflicted, millions have reconciled faith and reason, including adherents of many major denominations, such as Catholicism. Science and religion clearly can, and for many people do, co-exist comfortably.

Second, we object strongly to the gratuitous slurs on the school district’s lawyers. The lawyer mentioned in the story has treated our clients with respect and courtesy, and has been doing a good job in court as an advocate for his clients. The character assassination was unwarranted and unfair.

The real story, which was missed, is that Dover is “exhibit A” for what happens when elected officials inject their personal religious views into public affairs. Board members opposed to the policy testified that colleagues questioned their faith, plaintiffs testified that they were called “atheist —holes” and worse, and that what once was a peaceful community has been splintered by religious strife.

Many different faiths have for two hundred years co-existed peaceably in this country – we’ve been spared the religious violence seen in the Middle East, Bosnia and elsewhere – precisely because our Constitution prohibits government officials from mixing religion and politics. This was the genius of our founding fathers and it has helped fulfill the dream that America is a nation of real religious liberty, where millions of pious people, separated by different belief systems, live together in peace.

Witold J. Walczak
Legal Director
ACLU of Pennsylvania

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