Americans United has reported frequently on the slew of Religious Right groups trying to test and redefine the bounds of “religious liberty.” Now it seems yet another organization has joined the fray, claiming that teaching evolution in public schools forces atheism on students and violates the “religious liberty” of some parents.
Back in the early 1990s, I helped an Americans United activist in Missouri fend off efforts by a small-town school board to insert creationism into science classes.
We were frustrated. We had explained to the members of the board that what they wanted to do was unconstitutional and would run afoul of the 1987 Supreme Court decision Edwards v. Aguillard (at the time a fairly new opinion). They were not swayed.
Creationism is stealing headlines again in Pennsylvania.
Eight years after Americans United successfully challenged the Dover School District’s attempt to push creationism in public schools, lawmakers are at it again. State Representative Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) is now seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would allow students to question evolutionary theory.
We always like to report positives, and this week the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) delivered some very good news: legislation aimed at pushing creationism in public schools failed in eight states this year.
The bills ranged from subtly promoting so-called “academic freedom” to openly attacking evolution by offering “equal treatment” for creationism and “intelligent design.” They’re all bad ideas intended to inject religion into biology classes, and we’re very happy to see they failed.
Bills intended to introduce creationist concepts into public school science classes have died in Colorado, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma and Arizona.
In Colorado, the House Committee on Education voted 7-6 Feb. 11 to reject a creationist measure intended to undermine science education in the state.
House Bill 13-1089, known as the “Academic Freedom Act,” would have required teachers at public schools and colleges to help students analyze the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.”
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.
It has been more than 25 years since the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that mandated religious instruction in science classes, yet lawmakers in many states are still pushing ahead with attempts to force creationist concepts into the public schools.
The 2013 legislative session has just begun, and there are already anti-evolution bills (in some cases more than one) circulating in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma and Indiana.
Like something out of a George A. Romero movie, Tennessee lawmakers have revived a scary bill that would open the door to promotion of creationism in public schools.
HB 368 passed the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2011, but went nowhere after that. This year Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) brought it back, albeit with some minor changes.
A bill is advancing in the Indiana Senate that would “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science” in public schools.
Similar versions of SB 89 have been tried before and always died in committee. This time, though, a longtime creationism advocate – Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) – is chair of the Senate Education Committee. He also authored the legislation.