Good news from Alabama! A backdoor creationism bill has failed.

According to our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), “When the last day of the regular legislative session of the Alabama legislature ended on May 16, 2012, a bill that would have established a credit-for-creationism scheme died.”

As my colleague Rob Boston reported back in March, Rep. Blaine Galliher (R-Rainbow City) sponsored a measure that would allow public schools to establish “released-time” programs for high school students. House Bill 133 was intended to give students class credit for courses in creationism taken off-campus.

The agenda was clear. The Birmingham News said Galliher introduced his measure “at the request of one of his constituents, Joseph Kennedy, a member of Southside Baptist Church near Gadsden. Kennedy said he would like to see a non-profit group teach creationism to public school students if Galliher’s bill becomes law.”

Galliher told WAFF-TV, "Creation has just as much right to be taught in the school system as evolution does, and I think this is simply providing the vehicle to do that."

Sorry, Rep. Galliher, but you’re wrong about that.

Public schools are not allowed to promote religion. That would violate the constitutional separation of church and state, as well as the right of parents to teach their children about religion as they see fit.

Creationism, no matter how you disguise it, is not science; it’s a religious belief. Call it “creation science” or “intelligent design” if you like, but it’s still the same old fundamentalist Christian doctrine gussied up as science to try to slip it into biology classrooms.

A 2011 study ranked Alabama as “far below average” in preparing students for careers in science and engineering. Legislators should be focused on ways to improve academic performance, not schemes to introduce religious indoctrination.

Rep. Galliher’s bill didn’t make it this time. But advocates of sound science, strong public schools and church-state separation need to be on the alert for bills like it in the next session in Alabama and in other states.

The Religious Right-driven crusade to inject creationism into the public education system is well funded, sneaky and aggressive. We must make sure it doesn’t succeed.