Penna. School Drops Creationist Program after AU Complaint. (People & Events)

Article excerpt

A rural school district in western Pennsylvania has cancelled a planned presentation by a creationist after a warning from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The West Greene School Board in Greene County had voted 6-2 in January to allow evangelist Steve Grohman to give a presentation on creationism during the school day. The board reversed its vote Feb. 28 after receiving letters from Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Courts have consistently held that creation science cannot be taught in public schools," wrote Ayesha Khan, AU legal director, in a Feb. 1 letter to the board. Khan's letter cited case law and noted that the proposed presentation was clearly unconstitutional.

The board deliberated the matter for more than hour before voting 6-3 to cancel the program. A large crowd of local residents turned out for the meeting, and the Washington, Pa., Observer-Reporter noted that sentiment seemed "decidedly mixed."

"I've been to [Grohman's] website," resident Glenn Ruse told the board. "He's a little too radical for me. I think this guy has his own itinerary, which is to build up a congregation for the Baptist church."

The board's attorney, Barbara Rizzo, told members that a lawsuit would delay the seminar and could be costly. Board members concluded that it would be irresponsible for the district, which is in the red financially, to spend money on a lawsuit.

"This has been a tough night and tough decision," said board member Debbie Crouse. "Sometimes we have to set aside our personal views, I guess. …