There is much misinformation, or should I say disinformation about this issue. So much so that there is much disparity between legality and reality. Let's take a closer look.
We must first acknowledge that teaching the scientific evidence for creation is permissible. In the most recent decision on this, the Supreme Court stated that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction" (Edwards vs. Aguillard, 1987, pg.14).
This decision ruled unconstitutional an effort by the Louisiana legislature to mandate the teaching of both evolution and creation, because the Court (wrongly) suspected a religious purpose behind the law, even though this was denied, and the bill emphasized that the evidence be presented without religious content.
The Court further stated that teachers "already possess" the "flexibility … to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life" (pg.8). They are "free to teach any and all facets of this subject … all scientific theories about the origins of humankind" (pg.9). The Court thus sustained the lower Court finding that "no court of which we are aware had prohibited voluntary instruction concerning purely scientific evidence that happens, incidentally, to be consistent with a religious doctrine or tenet." In short, teaching the scientific evidence, which supports creation, is legal!
However, can it be done? In the place of freedom, there exists a reign of terror by certain "civil liberties" groups and the education establishment. The word is out–any teacher who dares to step out of line can expect an immediate and costly lawsuit. Evolution must be taught as unquestioned fact. A lawsuit might result if a teacher even discusses the evidence, which doesn't fit well with evolution. This evidence must be censored out of the classroom along with the abundant evidence, which better supports creation than evolution. Thus, teachers are intimidated into surrendering their freedoms.
These lobby groups have, to a great degree, succeeded in convincing many that evolution is science while creation is religion. However, in doing so, they have used a bogus definition for science. Science has become synonymous with naturalism–a search for naturalistic explanations for all things, in this case, unobserved origins events in the past.
However, science instruction should restrict itself to true science, that which is observable, repeatable, testable, and predictable. This would exclude both creation and evolution worldviews, but it wouldn't exclude the evidence. Unfortunately, the major universities continue to produce graduates who can only think along evolutionary lines. This includes teachers, bureaucrats, and lawyers (who become lawmakers and judges).
I do see one hope. Across America citizens are moving to reclaim schools and school boards back from the self-appointed intellectual "elite" who have too long held undue influence. A return to freedom and sanity may only stem the tide however. Only a true revival can turn back the tide. In addition, this can only happen as Christians and churches get back to a Biblical perspective in all areas, especially including "Back to Genesis."
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.