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Austin Cline

Dover: Board Members Favored Burning of Evolution Mural

By October 10, 2005

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The longer the Dover trial over Intelligent Design goes on, the worse the supporters of Intelligent Design sound. I don't think a single thing favorable to them has occurred, but one of the most interesting is the story about how school board members applauded the burning of a student mural which depicted evolution.

The York Daily Record explains that Zach Strausbaugh, now a former student, spent an entire semester painting a 4-foot by 16-foot detailed painting of human evolution as part of his graduation requirement. He donated it to the science department in 1998, but janitor Larry Reeser took offense and burned it in 2003 — without permission:

[I]n testimony Thursday in the fourth day of the Dover school district’s federal trial over intelligent design, board members Bill Buckingham and Alan Bonsell were said to have defended the burning of Strausbaugh’s painting. ... Former school board member Carol “Casey” Brown said Reeser destroyed the work because he thought it was full of lies, it offended his faith and he didn’t want his granddaughter exposed to the graphic nature of the painting, something he considered to be “an obscenity.”

Brown said Buckingham later told her that what Reeser did was right and the district should not be accepting such donations of artwork. Brown’s husband, Jeff, also a former board member, recalled that in 2003, Bonsell also said he was offended by the mural. “I remember him snorting through his nostrils,” Jeff Brown testified Thursday. “And saying something about kids shouldn’t be exposed to this sort of thing.”

Reeser said Thursday night he agreed with Casey Brown’s characterization of why he burned the mural. “Did you see the monkey’s genitals hanging out?” Reeser asked. “How would you like your granddaughter to sit next to that?”

Casey Brown said she had been told Reeser had been reprimanded “and subsequently retired,” but the 67-year-old said he had not been punished in any way.

The school board members are “defending” themselves by arguing that they simply want all sides to be presented, but the longer the trial goes on the more clear it is that their ultimate motivation is hatred of evolution. Scientific explanations for the nature of life offend their religious beliefs — so much so, in fact, that they are willing to accept the burning of depictions of evolution.

This isn’t substantially different from burning books on evolution, which puts Reeser, Bonsell, and Buckingham in very unsavory company. It’s distressing that people in charge of education would approve of burning educational materials which they find offensive to their religion. People like that should be barred from having anything to do with the schools.

 

Quick Poll: If a public school teaches evolution, should they also teach Intelligent Design as well?

  1. Yes. All scientific theories about life should be taught, not just the orthodox beliefs of godless Darwinians.
  2. No. Intelligent Design is, at a bare minimum, not scientific - and it's arguably religious. Either way, it doesn't belong in science classes.
  3. I don't know / don't care.
Click an option to vote, or View Current Poll Results

 

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