For the 2012-2013 school year, thousands of Louisiana students will receive state-funded vouchers to attend private schools, many of which hold religious affiliations.
One of these schools — Eternity Christian Academy, in Westlake, Louisiana — utilizes the A.C.E. Curriculum Program, a Christian fundamentalist course of study that teaches students to "see life from God's point of view." And unbeknownst to most theologians, scientists, and amateur monster hunters, the Lord's viewpoint that apparently incorporates Scotland's favorite cryptid.
Herald Scotland reports that a certain textbook in the A.C.E. curriculum transcends standard Creationist teachings and instead informs students that the Loch Ness Monster is proof positive that evolution never happened. (And here I always assumed Nessie was The Great Beast from the Book of Revelations.) Explains Herald Scotland:
One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: "Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."
Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur. It's unclear if the movie Godzilla was the inspiration for this lesson.
Jonny Scaramanga, 27, who went through the ACE programme as a child, but now campaigns against Christian fundamentalism, said the Nessie claim was presented as "evidence that evolution couldn't have happened. The reason for that is they're saying if Noah's flood only happened 4000 years ago, which they believe literally happened, then possibly a sea monster survived.
And according to Scaramanga, these biology books were still in print as of last month. Herald Scotland also quotes Cruise Loch Ness tour operator and Nessie aficionado Tony Drummond, who encourages A.C.E. students to comb the Loch scientifically:
"They need to come and investigate the loch for themselves," says the 47-year-old. "We've got some hi-tech equipment. They could come out on the boat and do a whole chunk of the loch.
"We do get regular sonar contacts which are pretty much unexplainable. More research has to be done, but it's not way along the realms of possibility."
But he's not convinced that the legend of the Loch Ness Monster is being taught the right way. "That's Christian propaganda," he says. "And ridiculous."
If Scotland experiences a tourism windfall because of Creationist textbooks, it won't be long before Washington State entrepreneurs begin shilling Bigfoot as the lost clan of Goliath. Is this the beginning of the Creationism-Cryptozoology Tourism Complex?