Texas Board Evolution Debate Gets Heated

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The debate over teaching evolution in schools is heading to the Texas Board of Education again.

On Thursday, the Republican-dominated school board is meeting to discuss supplemental science materials for future school years.

At the heart of the discussion is whether or not "creationism" or "intelligent design" should be included as part of the science curriculum.

Newly appointed chairwoman Barbara Cargill said she is one of six conservative Christians on the 15-member school board who are advocating for the teaching of intelligent design. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Cargill earlier this month.

"Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes," Cargill said.

But critics said Cargill's comments were judgmental and divisive and that she was trying to force-feed her conservative agenda on others.

"The right-wing faction of the State Board of Education will make every effort to put their personal and political beliefs in science instruction," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. The group advocates religious freedom and sides with mainstream science teachers on evolution.

"She questioned the faith of her colleagues and she point blank said that she will demand that publishers make changes in the science materials to meet her own personal objectives - not science objectives," TFN spokesman Dan Quinn charged.

Cargill later said her comments "were not intended to be divisive."

Former board chairman Don McLeroy, who was defeated by Ratliff in last year's GOP primary, quickly sprang to her defense.

"She was just making a political distinction, not a religious distinction, and it's much to do about nothing - except for the Texas Freedom Network and their friends who want to throw gasoline on the fire and try to ruin a fine lady," he said.

This is the second time the issue has drawn attention to the Lone Star State. In 2009, the State Board encouraged schools to scrutinize "all sides" of scientific theory.

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