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Friday, August 15, 2008

Clergy Letter Project Urges Rabbis to Sign On

The Clergy Letter Project is asking American rabbis to sign its "Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science" and to vocalize their support for evolution education (thanks to the National Center for Science Education for the tip). The project has long had a letter for Christian clergy, which has been signed by more than 11,000 members. So far, more than 100 rabbis have signed the Jewish clergy letter, which reads:

"As rabbis from various branches of Judaism, we the undersigned, urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. Fundamentalists of various traditions, who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs, are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and private schools. To teach it in the public schools would be to assert a particular religious perspective in an environment which is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.

"The Bible is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us and for many others, though not everyone, in our society. It is, however, open to interpretation, with some taking the creation account and other content literally and some preferring a figurative understanding. It is possible to be inspired by the religious teachings of the Bible while not taking a literalist approach and while accepting the validity of science including the foundational concept of evolution. It is not the role of public schools to indoctrinate students with specific religious beliefs but rather to educate them in the established principles of science and in other subjects of general knowledge."