30 Mar 2011

US conservative lawmakers increase attempts to legislate promotion of creationism in public schools

Mother Jones - March 23, 2011

9 Bills That Would Put Creationism in the Classroom

By Josh Harkinson | Mother Jones staff reporter

State governments are grappling with massive budget deficits, overburdened social programs, and mountains of deferred spending. But never mind all that. For some conservative lawmakers, it's the perfect time to legislate the promotion of creationism in the classroom. In the first three months of 2011, nine creationism-related bills have been introduced in seven states—that's more than in any year in recent memory:

1. Texas

Legislation: HB 2454 would ban discrimination against creationists, for instance, biology professors who believe in intelligent design. Defending his bill, Texas state Rep. Bill Zedler toldMother Jones, "When was the last time we’ve seen someone go into a windstorm or a tornado or any other kind of natural disaster, and say, 'Guess what? That windstorm just created a watch'?"

Status: Referred to Higher Education Committee.

2. Kentucky

Legislation: The Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act (HB 169) would have allowed teachers to use "other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner." Kentucky already authorizes public schools to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." The state is home to the world-renowned Creation Museum and it may soon build the Ark Encounter, the world's first creationist theme park.

Status: Died in committee.

3. Florida

Legislation: SB 1854 would amend Florida law to require a "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution." In 2009, Florida state Sen. Stephen Wise, the bill's sponsor, rhetorically asked a Tampa radio host: "Why do we still have apes if we came from them?"

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12, which Wise chairs.

4. Tennessee

Legislation: HB 368 and SB 893 would require educators to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies." The bills list four "controversies" ripe for pedagogical tinkering: biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. Modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act (which became law in 2008), the bills are believed to have a good shot at passing. Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching evolution in public schools, worries that the legislation "will allow teachers to bring this culture war into the classroom in a way that is going to leave students very confused about what science is and isn't."

Status: HB 368 was passed by the House General Subcommittee on Education on March 16.

5. Oklahoma

Legislation: The Sooner State kicked off its creationism legislation season early with the January 19 pre-filing of SB 554, a bill that would have ensured that teachers could present "relevant scientific information" about "controversial topics in the sciences" including "biological origins of life and biological evolution." It also would have required Oklahoma to adopt science standards echoing those passed by in 2009 by the Texas state board of education. "Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings is incomplete and unacceptable," wrote the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Josh Brecheen, in theDurant Daily Democrat. A second bill introduced in February, the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, resembled Louisiana's Science Education Act.

Status: Both bills died in committee.

6. New Mexico

Legislation: HB 302, another bill modeled on Louisiana's Science Education Act. Sponsor Kent Cravens, a state senator from Albuquerque, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the bill wasn't anti-Darwinian, but rather was "intended to give the teacher the ability to disclose that there may be another way to think about this, whatever subject they are talking about."

Status: Died in committee.

7. Missouri

Legislation: HB 195 would permit teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution." Missouri is the site of the newly opened Creation Museum of the Ozarks.

Status: Not yet referred to a committee.

This article was found at:

Mother Jones  -  April 8, 2011

Tennessee House Passes Creationism Bill

— By Josh Harkinson

The state that infamously hosted the Scopes Monkey Trial more than 85 years ago is at it again. Yesterday Tennessee's General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill that would make it easier for public schools to teach creationism. The bill would require educators to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies." It lists four "controversies" ripe for pedagogical tinkering: biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

"This is part of a long held creationist strategy," says Steven Newton, policy director for the National Center for Science Education. "By doing everything except mention the Bible, they are attacking evolution without the theology."

Yesterday's floor debate on the bill, though not quite as dramatic as Inherit the Wind, was nonetheless a tour de force in creative polemics. For example, Republican state Rep. Frank Niceley implied that Albert Einstein, who was more or less an agnostic Jew, was actually a Christian and ergo creationism should be taught in schools:

watch video at: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/04/tennessee-house-passes-creationism-bill

And then there was state Rep. Sheila Butt's Aqua Net theory:

watch video at: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/04/tennessee-house-passes-creationism-bill

Did Butt really learn this in high school? Or is she confusing global warming with ozone layer depletion? Has she seen this piece in Science? Just a few "critical-thought questions" for Butt's colleagues in the state Senate, who'll decide the ultimate fate of the bill in the coming months.

This article was found at:

Also see:



Biology teacher in Illinois public high school caught promoting creationism to discredit evolution

Louisiana school board wants believers to teach creationism in science classes, thinks it will solve discipline problem

Teaching evolution in science classrooms under attack in the US and UK by anti-science creationists

Creationists weaken U.S. education system, only a quarter of high school students adequately taught evolutionary biology

Ohio school district payed nearly a million dollars to fire science teacher who taught creationism

UK government insists it will not accept free school proposals from groups pushing creationist agenda over science

UK education reforms open door for untrained teachers in faith schools to indoctrinate children with creationism

Arkansas politician wants public schools to indoctrinate students with literal interpretation of the Bible

Children have a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to be free from religion

Philadelphia City Council votes to hold hearings on returning prayer to public schools in violation of constitution

Virginia school board takes down 10 Commandments posters to avoid lawsuit, students walk out in protest

Texas school board members injected their personal religious beliefs into social studies curriculum

Reactionary Christian fundamentalists take over Texas school board, rewrite history books to indoctrinate America's children

Nebraska education administrators get mixed messages from lawyers on legality of promoting religion in schools

Federal Court of Appeal asked to stop California college proselytizing and imposing religion on students

Advocacy group battles illegal Christian fundamentalist proselytizing in U.S. public schools

Fundamentalist Christian 'punk' band uses deception to evangelize and indoctrinate in U.S. schools

Radical Christian extremists aim to undermine public education by targeting high school kids for indoctrination into fundamentalist worldview

1 comment:

  1. Kentucky School Officials are Wrong about Teaching Evolution

    by Simon Brown, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

    Just when it looks like a state public school system is making progress in the teaching of evolution, creationism rears its ugly head.

    A new standardized biology test scheduled to be administered to Kentucky public school students starting in the spring of 2012 would require that teachers devote significant time to teaching evolution.

    Unfortunately, not everyone is on board with that plan. Hart County Schools Superintendent Ricky D. Line is waging a one-man war against emphasizing evolution. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Line recently wrote to the Kentucky Board of Education and state education commissioner about the impending test.

    “I have a deep concern about the increased emphasis on the evolution content required,” Line observed. “I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point…that we are teaching evolution…as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us.”

    To make matters worse, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday made remarks intended to assuage Line, suggesting that Kentucky has come up with some sort of compromise that allows teachers to present both evolution and creationism.

    The Herald-Leader reports that Holliday insisted that Kentucky does not intend to present evolution as fact. Teachers, he suggested, are also allowed to discuss alternatives to evolution, such as creationism.

    Oh, where to begin. First, evolution is a theory — just like it’s a theory that the Earth revolves around the sun.

    According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences:

    “No new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence.”

    No one in the scientific community seriously questions the validity of evolution. Just like no one is clinging to the idea that the sun revolves around the Earth.

    Second, teaching evolution alongside creationism is not an acceptable compromise because it’s unconstitutional. Holliday wants to keep the peace in his state by appearing to embrace a middle ground, but all he’s doing is giving in to the Religious Right at the expense of the Constitution and sound academic instruction. Creationism is a religious belief and, as such, it cannot and should not be taught in public school science classes.

    The U.S. Supreme Court said as much in 1987 in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard. The court held that a Louisiana law requiring that public schools could not teach evolution unless that instruction was accompanied by creationism was unconstitutional because the law’s intent was to promote something central to the teachings of certain religious denominations.

    Many in the education community complain about schools that simply “teach to the test” but in Kentucky’s case, the test is right on, and teachers should be sticking to it very closely.