May 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The Tennessee legislature seems determined to inject religion into public schools.

Three bills dealing with the issue were recently approved and sent to the governor.

One measure (HB 368) would open the door for teachers to discuss creationist concepts in science class. Another proposal (HB 2658) would authorize public schools and other public buildings to include the Ten Commandments as part of “historical documents” displays. A third bill (HB 3266) would allow teachers and other school officials to participate in student-initiated religious activities on school grounds outside class hours.

Several groups have been particularly outspoken against HB 368, which has been termed the “monkey bill.” In a March 29 editorial, the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal said, “Science and teacher associations across the state and nation oppose this legislation, yet our Legislature is determined to impose its will on the classrooms of Tennessee, showing a general disrespect for scientific academia in favor of running its religious views up a flagpole.”

Americans United has been critical of all three measures and asked Gov. Bill Haslam (R) to veto them. Haslam, however, signed HB 3266 and HB 2658 and allowed the anti-evolution bill to become law without his signature.