McCain Speech Tied to Intelligent Design Group Draws Fire

ByABC News
February 22, 2007, 7:44 PM

Feb. 22, 2007 — -- Friday at noon in Seattle, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will speak at a luncheon event being co-presented by the Discovery Institute -- the controversial organization that promotes intelligent design theory and combats Darwinism.

McCain is beng hammered by a liberal group for associating with the Discovery Institute, although the luncheon is being formally hosted by the CityClub of Seattle and the Seattle World Affairs Council, with the Discovery Institute is one of nine organizations "co-presenting" the event.

"Despite its self-proclaimed position as an unbiased think tank, the Discovery Institute has played a central role in the religious right's national campaign to undermine science education," Campaign to Defend the Constitution co-director Clark Stevens wrote to McCain Thursday. "Under the guise of 'teaching the controversy' the Institute has strived to discredit the theory of evolution -- a theory that has withstood decades of critical analysis from the scientific community -- and replace it with a religiously motivated pseudo-science with no scientific standing."

McCain's campaign pooh-poohs the controversy.

"He's addressing the Seattle World Affairs Council and CityClub of Seattle and there are a number of co-presenters as well, of which the Discovery Institute is one," says McCain exploratory committee spokesman Brian Jones.

Jones says he has seen the senator's speech and it "will focus on issues relating to foreign affairs, specifically about the Pacific Rim."

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution's Timi Gerson says the subject of McCain's speech doesn't matter, and is not the issue.

"It's outrageous for a nationally respected political leader of his stature -- who is furthermore a member of the Senate Committee charged with overseeing science -- to do anything co-sponsored by a group with an explicit anti-science agenda that is trying to push theology in the classroom," Gerson said.

Critics say that McCain's position on teaching intelligent design in schools is not easy to decipher.

In 2005, he told the Arizona Star, "I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they've got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking or one belief on how people and the world was created I think there's nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought."