Religious organisations penetrating Scottish schools in order to teach creationism is a problem that can no longer be ignored, according to the Scottish Secular Society (SSS).
MSPs on Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee heard that some religious groups are waging a "campaign of disinformation" in the classroom.
Members of the SSS were giving evidence on their petition, which calls on Education Secretary Mike Russell to issue guidance to publicly-funded schools and colleges to "prevent the teaching of creationism and related doctrines as viable alternatives to established science".
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Creationism is the belief that the universe and living beings originate from acts of divine creation.
SSS chair Spencer Fildes highlighted the outcry over the involvement of the US-based religious group Church of Christ at Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, last year, saying the material distributed to pupils there "beggars belief". He told MSPs: "Other creationist organisations also distribute materials or actually offer speakers to schools."
Mr Fildes said his organisation had evidence of examples at schools in Clackmannanshire and Falkirk as well as South Lanarkshire.
Independent MSP John Wilson said: "I think there needs to be a clear steer given to teaching staff about what is permissible to be taught within the lessons."
The committee agreed by majority to write to the Scottish Government and educational institutions for their views on the matter.