Louisiana Bill Sneaks Religion Into Science Classes, Says Americans United

Measure Would Harm Children's Education, Undercut Constitution And Lead To Lawsuit, Says AU's Lynn

A bill approved yesterday by a Louisiana legislative panel brings religion into science classrooms and undercuts fundamental constitutional principles, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The House Education Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 733, a measure that allows public school teachers to use supplementary materials when teaching about evolution.

The Louisiana Science Education Act has the backing of Religious Right groups such as the Louisiana Family Forum and the Discovery Institute and is clearly intended, critics say, to bring religious concepts into the science classroom. The bill is ardently opposed by teachers’ groups, scientists and advocates of church-state separation.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “This bill isn’t about improving education in Louisiana; it’s about sneaking religion into the science classroom.

“If this passes, Louisiana legislators will be harming children’s education, undercutting the Constitution and holding the state up to national ridicule, “ Lynn continued “People will be asking whether Flintstones cartoons are going to be introduced as documentaries in Louisiana science classes.”

The Louisiana bill is one of several so-called “academic freedom” measures introduced in legislatures around the country this year at the behest of Religious Right forces. Bills were also introduced in Florida, Alabama, Missouri and other states.

Said Lynn, “The federal courts have repeatedly struck down every scheme designed to inject religious doctrines into public school science classes. These so-called ‘academic freedom’ bills are just the latest maneuver to try to get around those rulings.

“If this bill passes, and religious materials are brought into Louisiana public schools as a result, we will go to court to seek justice for the state’s children,” Lynn concluded.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.