Ninth Circuit to Hear Arguments This Week in UC Berkeley Website Case

San Francisco, CA – Pacific Justice Institute will present arguments this week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a federally-funded UC Berkeley website which promotes selected religious denominations that support evolution.

The lawsuit, filed by PJI in 2005, centers around a website designed by UC Berkeley to help teachers combat so-called misconceptions about evolution. The website tackles the “misconception” that religion and evolution are incompatible by claiming that “most” religious groups have no problem with evolution, and by directing visitors to statements from selected religious groups that support evolution. Meanwhile, the website derides religious beliefs that “contradict science” by teaching six-day creation. The site also warns teachers that student questions which expose the weaknesses of evolution “may be designed to disrupt the learning process” and should not be given the same respect as “legitimate” questions.

PJI is arguing that the taxpayer-funded UC Berkeley website unconstitutionally promotes certain religious groups at the expense of others. PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider, who will be presenting oral arguments to the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday, commented, “Whatever one’s views on the origin of life or the theory of evolution, it is completely inappropriate for the government to declare that some religious denominations are better than others. The Supreme Court has long held that government must not decree what is orthodox in religion, and we are seeking to hold UC Berkeley to that standard.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “Government actions that demean a group’s faith clearly express state hostility toward religion and must be contested.”