Recently a bill reached the desk of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam that would encourage public school teachers to discuss the alleged “controversy” over evolution and offer them legal protection if they teach creationist concepts.
Haslam indicated that he opposed the so-called “monkey bill,” but he refused to veto it. Instead, he allowed it to become law without his signature.
The wall of separation between church and state is under tremendous fire in Tennessee, and we are asking Gov. Bill Haslam to help us defend it.
The state legislature has passed three measures that undermine religious liberty in public schools, and they are now sitting on the governor’s desk. One promotes creationist concepts in science classes, another allows teachers to participate in student-led religious activities and a third allows Ten Commandments displays at public schools and other public buildings.
The Supreme Court has been pretty consistent in saying that public schools may not sponsor prayer, Bible reading and other religious activities.
There is, however, a legal loophole. In a 1952 decision called Zorach v. Clauson, the high court permitted a scheme whereby public schools can allow students to leave school during the day for religious instruction elsewhere. It’s known as “released time.”
Ding, dong, the bill is dead, the creationism bill is dead!
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma has decided to table legislation that would have mandated the teaching of “creation science” in public schools. The bill had passed the Indiana Senate, albeit with a modification requiring the teaching of other theories on the origins of life on Earth from several religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
Whenever we debate a church-state issue like religion in public schools or the use of sectarian prayers before government meetings, we must always remember there is a human face behind every one of these controversies.
Someone’s rights are being violated. Someone is being treated like a second-class citizen. Someone is being singled out because of what he or she believes about theology.
It looks like opponents of creationism are going to have their hands full in 2012. The new year is just a few days old, and already we’ve seen several anti-evolution bills popping up in the states.
In Indiana, state Sen. Dennis Kruse has introduced S.B. 89, a bill that would allow public schools in the state to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”
Just when it looks like a state public school system is making progress in the teaching of evolution, creationism rears its ugly head.
A new standardized biology test scheduled to be administered to Kentucky public school students starting in the spring of 2012 would require that teachers devote significant time to teaching evolution.
We have a victory in Texas! On Friday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve sound-science materials for public school biology courses.
By a 14-0 vote, the board chose to approve supplemental materials from mainstream publishers, not creationism-based recommendations from Religious Right-backed vendors.