December 2015 Church & State | People & Events

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has appointed a man to be acting education commissioner who in the past has expressed support for teaching creationism in public schools.

Dr. William Beardsley is the former president of Bangor-based Husson University and is considered a close associate of LePage. Beardsley’s academic credentials are not in doubt, but his understanding of basic science is questionable: He expressed unequivocal support for teaching creationism during his unsuccessful 2010 bid to become the Republican nominee for governor.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Beardsley articulated his position at the time in response to a straightforward debate question from Maine Public Broadcasting’s Jennifer Rooks.

“Do you believe in creationism, and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?” she asked candidates.

“I would teach creationism,” Beardsley replied.

Until his appointment in October, Beardsley offered no indication that he had changed his views. But when news of Beardsley’s appointment and his creationist beliefs became public, he suddenly back tracked.

“There’s a place for religion and a place for science,” he said in October. “Do I believe in science? Of course I believe in science. My mother was an astronomer. Am I a person of faith? Yes, I happen to be a person of faith.”

Beardsley promised that he would not attempt to adjust the state’s science education standards to weaken the teaching of evolution, but his appointment is still a matter of concern given that LePage himself has boasted that he is a creationist.

“I would say intelligence, uh, the more education you have the more knowledge you have the better person you are and I believe yes and yes,” LePage said in 2010 in answer to the debate question about whether or not he would favor creationism in schools.