Clergy Letter Project
The Clergy Letter Project is an open-letter project undersigned by a collection of Christian clergy members who oppose the teaching of creationism in schools. The project was started in 2004, and as of August 2013, has collected 12,865 signatures.
The letter is entitled An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science and its statement was written by Rev. John McFadden, pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton, Wisconsin. The statement reads as follows:
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
In addition to the signatories, the Clergy Letter Project has been officially endorsed by the United Methodist Church. The church stated "The United Methodist Church goes on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools". The project has also received endorsemants from the Southeast Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church and the Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
A number of organizations such as Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute have all criticized the project. CMI dismissed the Clergy Letter Project as a "circus", stating that "...clergy from liberal churches across the USA have been scrambling at this chance to pledge allegiance to the flag of Darwinian evolution. The resulting 'roll of dishonor' no doubt delineates with some accuracy the spread of apostasy across the contemporary Christian landscape."