As a candidate for governor, Sarah Palin called for teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. But after Alaska voters elected her, Palin, now Republican John McCain's presidential running mate, kept her campaign pledge to not push the idea in the schools.
As for her personal views on evolution, Palin has said, "I believe we have a creator." But she has not made clear whether her belief also allowed her to accept the theory of evolution as fact.
"I'm not going to pretend I know how all this came to be," she has been quoted as saying.
McCain said during a debate last year that he believed in evolution when it came to the origin of life.
When asked during a televised debate in 2006 about evolution and creationism, Palin said, according to the Anchorage Daily News: "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."
In a subsequent interview with the Daily News, Palin said discussion of alternative views on the origins of life should be allowed in Alaska classrooms. "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum," she said.
"It's OK to let kids know that there are theories out there. They gain information just by being in a discussion."
Creationism is the belief that the Earth and its creatures were created by a deity. It's an alternative to the origin of life explanation taught in public schools under the theory of evolution, which puts forth that all living organisms descended from a common ancestral gene pool.
Palin said during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign that if she were elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum, or look for creationism advocates when she appointed board members.
At a GOP presidential debate in May 2007 in Simi Valley, Calif., McCain said he believed in evolution.
"But," he added, "I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also."
Palin's children attend public schools and Palin has made no push to have creationism taught in them.
Neither have Palin's socially conservative personal views on issues like abortion and gay marriage been translated into policies during her 20 months as Alaska's chief executive. It reflects a hands-off attitude toward mixing government and religion by most Alaskans.
"She has basically ignored social issues, period," said Gregg Erickson, an economist and columnist for the Alaska Budget Report.
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