The board's blatant attempt last year to introduce religion -- in the guise of intelligent design -- into a science class received a stern constitutional slapdown yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III.
Jones was unsparing in his criticism of the former board members who attempted to insinuate their personal religious beliefs into a high school biology class.
Ruling that it was "unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," the judge also chastised those members "who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public" for lying "time and again" on the witness stand in a federal trial to disguise their religious purposes behind a smokescreen of intelligent design.
Most of the school board members seated last year when the intelligent design statement was issued have been replaced by members of the Dover CARES coalition who claimed a board majority in the Nov. 8 elections.
Judge Jones in his 139-page ruling said the "citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID policy."
The judge was being too kind by several degrees. In violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the board members -- especially those who lied on the witness stand in a pathetic attempt to defend their insistence on teaching creationism along with valid science -- threw their oaths as public servants to uphold the law out the window. In demanding that ninth-grade biology students be informed that alternatives existed to the Darwinian theory of evolution, the purely religious motives of creationism supporters was more than obvious. They encouraged students to keep an open mind, while offering intelligent design as the only alternative.
That's a religious view and a clear violation of the Constitution.
Sadly, the judge noted that those board members who voted to include the intelligent design statement in the curriculum change "testified at the trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID." Jones called this "striking ignorance" an "unfortunate theme" of the case.
The lesson for the Dover Area School District is not yet complete, as the court has yet to set damages in the case.
But the victory for common sense and the good sense of the Founding Fathers should be celebrated -- the judge's ruling permanently bars the use of intelligent design policy in "any school" within the district.
The healing of the community divided by the board's actions already is under way. The burden now falls upon the newly constituted school board to ensure that continues.
Meanwhile, if any of the former board members who loosed this chaos upon the community happen to view a fossil somewhere in the sheltering rock, it would be poetic justice.