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When Joel Fanti tried to help his ninth-grade son study for his world history test, he found a problem with chapter one of the class’ assigned textbook.
“It was presented in chapter one that evolution was a fact,” Fanti said. “I did not have a problem with a theory of evolution being presented, but it should not be presented with a fact. All I wanted to do was study with my son for his world history test, but I couldn’t just sit there and let him think this was a fact.”
Fanti, a chemical engineer with multiple science degrees, said scientists have been trying to trace evolution for hundreds of years but are failing to make any direct connection.
“Out of the billions and billions of fossils, we don’t see any. We don’t see any huge changes from one type of an animal to another one,” he said. “They say man came from some type of ape. The best that they can do is find some ape-like fossils then draw in everything else. The best they can do is try to piece it together.”
Fanti questioned the Brunswick County Board of Education during its monthly meeting recently on whether or not creation could be presented as an option to students along with the theory of evolution.
Board chairwoman Shirley Babson said Tuesday the law would not allow school districts to discuss creationism in the classroom.
“I knew several states have tried this, but we cannot legally do this,” she said. “I have watched across the state in many incidents not just evolution, the law has used separation of church and state from keeping anybody from saying anything about Christianity. I think that’s discriminatory.”
Babson said she agrees it should be an option students are presented with and has pleaded her case in front of the North Carolina School Boards Association, saying teachers are afraid to speak about or let students speak about anything to do with Christianity.
Babson said she knew of one student who would bring his Bible to school hidden inside a notebook, afraid of even having it inside school walls.
“I just don’t like the fact that Christianity has been pushed to the back,” Babson said. “Christianity teaches children to be courteous, to be kind and to have morals. If you destroy the morals of a country, you destroy the country.”
Babson and Fanti agree children need to be presented with many theories of creation and evolution and make the decision they believe is right for themselves, not told to believe one theory presented as a fact.
“My problem with it is you start teaching kids science, the only thing they hear is the theory of evolution,” Babson said. “They will grow up and that’s the only thing they’re going to believe.”
Fanti said he did not grow up believing in creation, but as his Christianity beliefs grew stronger, he chose to believe it and thinks students in Brunswick County Schools should have the opportunity to make that choice.
“I did not say don’t teach evolution. Don’t teach it as a fact; teach it as a theory,” he said. “Allow students to make their decision based on their opinion. You’ve got to have faith to believe because none of us were there in the beginning.”
Babson said since last week’s board meeting, she has received many phone calls, letters and e-mails from people all voicing their opinions on the matter.
A letter from the Rev. Hector La Chappelle and Mary Hood Hart, faith formation director, of St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church in Shallotte, said the board should not teach creation, as those who believe already know the truth.
“The Bible is not a science book or a history book, but a faith document. It points to a transcendent reality,” the letter states. “The Bible teaches us ‘how to go to heaven,’ not ‘how the heavens go.’ We are not concerned with how God created the world, but that God did. Creationism is not science, and it does not belong in a school curriculum.”
La Chappelle and Hart’s complete letter can be seen on page 6A of the Beacon this week.
Babson said another letter said talking about creation was “dangerous,” and questioning evolution was even more risky.
“That’s a communist country when it’s dangerous to ask questions,” Babson said.
Babson hopes one day creation and more religious-based education can be accepted in Brunswick County classrooms.
“We will be looking into those things but that is not something you cannot do overnight,” she said. “[Creation] will not be taught in science classes as a fact because the law and the courts say it can’t.”
Superintendent Katie McGee was looking to instill a Bible-based literature class but could not find a teacher for it, Babson said. If students are interested in a religion-based elective class, they are encouraged to contact Babson and the board of education.