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Justice Department Drops Evolution Probe

April 22, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department said Tuesday it had dropped its investigation of a complaint by a Texas Tech University student that a biology professor was discriminating against students who did not believe in evolution.

The department said it ended its probe after Professor Michael Dini eliminated the evolution belief requirement in his recommendation policy and replaced it with a requirement that students be able to explain the theory of evolution.

In a complaint filed with the Justice department, a student at the university in Lubbock, Texas, accused Dini of refusing to write letters of recommendation based on their religious beliefs.

The student, Micah Spradling, said as a creationist he couldn’t espouse a belief in human evolution to get a recommendation.

Spralding was joined in filing the complaint by the Liberty Legal Institute, a religious freedom group that called Dini’s policy ``open religious bigotry.″ The complaint named Dini and Texas Tech University.

Spralding withdrew in the fall and transferred to Lubbock Christian University. He re-enrolled at Texas Tech this semester after obtaining a recommendation letter at the other school.

Dini’s previous recommendation policy on his Web page advised students seeking a recommendation to be prepared to answer the question: ``How do you think the human species originated?″

``If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the biomedical sciences,″ Dini previously wrote.

The Web site now reads: ``How do you account for the scientific origin of the human species? If you will not give a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation.″

Dini adds later that the requirement ``should not be misconstrued as discriminatory against anyone’s personal beliefs.″

The Justice Department praised the change in Dini’s policy.

``A biology student may need to understand the theory of evolution and be able to explain it. But a state-run university has no business telling students what they should or should not believe in,″ Ralph Boyd Jr., assistant attorney general for civil rights, said in a statement.

___

On the Web:

Michael Dini’s policy: http://www2.tltc.ttu.edu/dini/Personal/letters.htm

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