All four Dist. 95 candidates back teaching creationism in science classes

All four candidates for the Lake Zurich Unit District 95 school board believe creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

One, Chris Wallace, went so far as to say creationism is fact and evolution is just a theory.

The positions surfaced this week during candidate interviews with the Daily Herald.

Three of the candidates — Jim Burke, Doug Goldberg and Tony Pietro — are incumbents seeking additional four-year terms on the board. Wallace is a political newcomer.

Creationism is the belief that God created the universe and humankind, typically as described in the Bible's Book of Genesis. Evolution is the scientific theory, widely credited to 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin, that man and other life-forms evolved from lesser species over the millennia.

Opponents of the public-school teaching of creationism point to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring creationism from science classes because it would serve as an endorsement of religion or a particular religious belief.

Other groups, including the Carol Stream-based Illinois Family Institute, support creationism's introduction in school as a way to present both sides of an argument.

Pietro believes creationism should be taught in science class to give students “as much information as possible” about the origins of life.

“I think we can say this is a theory,” he said Thursday. “None of us were here when man was created.”

When the court rulings on the issue were mentioned, Pietro didn't waver.

“When we teach (it), we need to say this is a theory,” he said.

Wallace took an even stronger stance on the issue.

“Creationism to me is factual,” he said. “Darwinism is a theory.”

As for court rulings against teaching creationism in science classes, Wallace said people must work within the law or change it.

Goldberg also emphatically supported adding creationism to the science curriculum.

“I'm a good, God-fearing American and the answer is ‘Yes,'” he said. “Clearly, religion in general is a big part of our daily lives as Americans. I believe that allowing a student to be exposed to the theory of creationism is a relevant and reasonable thing to do.”

Goldberg said he “hadn't studied the legal ramifications” of the issue.

Burke also said “yes,” but not as enthusiastically as the other candidates. He acknowledged scientific evidence supports evolution.

“It's not a belief, it's proven fact,” Burke said. “I would hate to see the line between those two things blurred.”

If teaching creationism in science classes is unconstitutional, officials shouldn't try to get around the law, he added.

The Daily Herald has asked candidates in other school districts about creationism's role in science classes.

Last week, two Fremont School District 79 candidates, including the board's current president, voiced support for adding creationism to the curriculum. A third candidate in the race opposed it.

Doug Goldberg, Lake Zurich Unit School District 95 candidate
Tony Pietro, Lake Zurich Unit School District 95 candidate
Chris Wallace, Lake Zurich Unit School District 95 candidate