March 2013 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The 2013 legislative session has just begun, and bills intended to introduce religious concepts into science classes are already circulating in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, Indiana and Arizona.

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), one of the latest bills at press time was Missouri’s HB 291, a whopping 3,000-word manifesto masquerading as an attempt to provide a “standard science” curriculum for public elementary and secondary schools. It also seeks to create introductory science courses in public colleges and universities and would require those institutions to give “the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design.”

The creationism proposals in Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, Indiana and Arizona aren’t much different from the one in Missouri, although some of those pretend to promote “academic freedom,” which is just another way of encouraging creationism.

Critics say such increasingly subtle attempts to authorize anti-evolution schemes show that the Religious Right has evolved in its approach but not its goal.

“It’s ironic that creationist strategies continue to evolve,” NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott told the Joplin (Mo.) Independent. “At first, creationists tried to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools altogether. When they were no longer able to do so, they tried to ‘balance’ it with the teaching of biblical creationism, or scientific creationism, or intelligent design.

“After the Kitzmiller trial in 2005,” she continued, “in which teaching intelligent design was found by a federal court to be unconstitutional, there’s been a shift toward belittling evolution – as just a theory, or as in need of critical analysis, or as the subject of scientific controversy.”