As many of you are no doubt aware, despite the near constant portrayal of America as a place of religious indoctrination, it is in fact the UK, not the US, where state schools are allowed to have religious affiliations and offer religious education. In the US the courts are quite nearly pathological about disallowing religious expression of any kind in tax-funded education. Unfortunately, Ms. Hinsliff is either shockingly ignorant of this fact or she simply doesn’t care about the truth.
Deep in her article, after warning of the “fears” about “radical evangelicals” grabbing the reins of education in the UK, she brings up the idea of creationism.
Creationism teaches that the story of Genesis is literally true, and that God really did create the world in seven days. Adherents believe the planet is only 6,000 years old.This is a classic example of the way in which the UK media attempts to prejudice its audience with its own anti-American biases.
In the US, the influence of creationism and its close cousin 'intelligent design' - the idea that humans are so complex they must have been generated by a conscious creator - on education is widespread.
In the UK, creationism remains a fringe movement…
First of all, the reference to America is entirely gratuitous and unrelated to the rest of the article. The subject of the article is the UK’s government education system and its partnership with religious affiliations in the creation of new schools. Since, in the US, any association between publicly funded schools and religious organizations is strictly prohibited, it is difficult to understand how the US education system is at all relevant to this topic. Why the complete non-sequitur about the US? Who knows? Perhaps Hinsliff had yet to fill her anti-American slam quota that week.
But even if the reference to the US is oddly placed, one might hope it was at least factual. Regrettably, any such hope would be in vain.
Creationism, of course, is not a part of any state curriculum in the US. Again, unlike in the UK, religious education is not allowed in US public schools. Any public school that started teaching the story of Genesis from the Bible as part of its curriculum would immediately be stopped by the courts. Creationism, therefore, is strictly the domain of private schools. (A 1987 Supreme Court ruling against the ability of a state to mandate the teaching of creationism alongside evolution merely reinforced this long-standing reality.) According to the National Center for Education Statistics, of the approximately 53.5 million children enrolled in K-12 (aged 5-18) education in the US, only 5.3 million of them are enrolled in private schools. This means that, at most, creationism is formally taught to a mere 10% of US school children. But of course not all private schools are religiously affiliated, and of those that are, not all of them eschew evolution and embrace biblical literalism. So the true percentage is in fact significantly less than even 10%. So much for the "widespread" influence of creationism on US education.
It is also false to conflate, as Hinsliff does, intelligent design with creationism. While literal believers of Genesis may indeed champion intelligent design theory in the current political climate, it is not at all true that intelligent design theorists embrace creationism. They definitely do not. Characterizing ID as a "close cousin" to creationism is little more than a manipulative attempt to prejudice the audience against it without having to present any substantive reason why they should be. It is the cheap, rhetorical trick of an intellectual charlatan.
But it does allow Hinsliff to slyly plant the notion of America as a nation blinded by biblical literalism. Having taken a detour from her topic to brush aside the substantial differences between ID and creationism and then falsely proclaim that their “influence” over US education has been “widespread”, she segues back into the actual topic of her article by reassuring us that in the UK, creationism is still a “fringe movement”. Unlike, by implication, the US, where it apparently has captured the nation.
What utter rubbish.
It is difficult to believe that Hinsliff didn’t know precisely what she was doing when she added this deception to her story. But perhaps I give her too much credit. Perhaps she is too ignorant of the very thing she is writing about to know how ridiculous her claims are, and too lazy to inform herself. Ultimately, I’m not sure which is worse.