Argentine government official, responding to intense pressure from the Catholic Church, have announced significant revisions to the country’s recently completed educational guidelines.
Among the changes, schools in Argentina are being directed now to teach evolution as “just a theory” and as an alternative to creationism.
The controversy here comes at a time when debate over the place of religion in American public schools has escalated.
President Clinton issued guidelines last week stipulating the existing legal parameters on this issue.
In Argentina, where there are more than 200,000 Jews, the changes called for by the church and accepted by the government are being made in the Basic Educational Guidelines Project.
The project, a yearlong undertaking to establish federal contents for the country’s schools, produced guidelines that were introduced in March.
Church leaders came down harshly on what they called the contents’ “moral relativism” and “materialistic concepts.”
Argentine government officials also consented to church requests that the “symbolic names” of evolutionists Charles Darwin and Jean Baptist Lamarck not be used.
In addition, the revised basic guidelines ban sexual education and the use of the words “sex” and “sexual” in schools. And students will be taught that in 1492, the conquistadors launched “the evangelization of the Americas” and that the “most basic instinct of human beings is to transcend to God.”