Culture war topics are dominating school board races across the state in these final days before next week’s elections. Sex education, LGBTQ rights, book bans are all in the news. Creationism in the classroom, however, despite being a classic schoolhouse flashpoint, hasn’t made much of a splash, at least until now.

Barbara Evanson, who is running for a school board seat in Grand Junction, believes that when it comes to science instruction — specifically the origin of the universe — teachers should take the concept of “teaching both sides” literally.

Speaking on a conservative podcast called Mesa County Compass, Evanson explained her philosophy of “teaching both ends of the spectrum,” to hosts Ruth & Lisa.

Mesa County District 51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson speaks with the Mesa County Compass, Oct. 8, 2023.

“I feel like we need to be teaching both ends of the spectrum when we’re teaching things in school as well,” said Evanson. “What I mean by that is if we’re teaching the Big Bang Theory then we need to teach creationism as well.”

Evanson returned to the topic a few minutes later.

“You should provide 100% of the information to someone, so that they have the ability to make the decision on their own,” said Evanson. “It’s just like I said: if we’re going to teach the Big Bang then we should teach creation and allow them to make the decision for themselves. You shouldn’t withhold one ideology and teach another ideology because then that just shows that you have an agenda so we need to be teaching these children with everything that we have as long as it’s factual, substantiated, evidence.”

Evanson covered a variety of topics during the interview, which is available to watch in its entirety here. Her comments on creationism begin at about the 30-minute mark. She also expressed a desire to “ban a ton of material” from school libraries, which was previously reported by blogger Anne Landman.

Evenson’s campaign website describes her as a “fiscal conservative,” who “will invest money in our classrooms and look for ways to reduce administration SPENDING, eliminate waste and invest in programs that have proven results.” 

Among Evanson’s endorsers is Colorado State Board Member Stephen Varela, a Republican who joined the board via the GOP Congressional District 3 Vacancy Committee back in January. Varela did not respond to a Twitter message asking if he was aware of Evanson’s position on teaching creationism alongside accepted science when he endorsed her. This article will be updated with any response received.

Evanson likewise did not respond to email and Facebook messages requesting comment, including any “factual, substantiated evidence” she has for creationism. This article will be updated with any response received from her as well.

UPDATE: In an email following publication, Ms. Evanson stood by her statement and offered a lengthy defense of creationism and why it should be taught equally alongside the Big Bang. The Colorado Times Recorder published it in full; it can be read here.

The two Mesa County District 51 School Board seats up for grabs next Tuesday won’t change the ideological majority. A trio of conservatives elected in 2021 and whose seats aren’t up until Nov. 2025 ensure at least a 3-2 split favoring conservatives, including Board President Andrea Haitz, through 2025. However, should Evanson and fellow conservative CynDee Skalla both win their races, the D51 board would have a unanimous 5-0 conservative “split” for the next two years.

Evanson and Skalla are both supported by the Mesa County Republican Women, which held a fundraiser for the pair in September.They also have the support of the far-right election denier group Stand for the Constitution, which has promoted their campaigns online and by holding volunteer canvassing trainings. Those events led by the same woman who organized the group’s door-to-door canvassing effort in 2021, in which election deniers searched for proof of “phantom ballots.”

Evanson’s opponent is Cindy Enos-Martinez, a former council member and mayor of Grand Junction who also previously served on the D51 board from 2009-2012. Skalla has two opponents, Jose Luis Chavez and Jessica Hearns.

Like so many other conservative school board candidates across Colorado, Evanson has hired longtime operative Katie Kennedy, who has handled campaign compliance for most Republican Party statewide and legislative candidates in Colorado over the past decade.