The Radical and Religious Right may appear as weak and laughable as Duhbya, but they will be around longer and they are relentless in their mission to dominate this nation. peace, mjh
New legal threat to teaching evolution in the US – opinion – 09 July 2008 – New Scientist by Amanda Gefter [7/9/08]
The [Louisiana Science Education Act] is designed to slip ID in “through the back door”, says [Barbara] Forrest, who is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism. She adds that the bill’s language, which names evolution along with global warming, the origins of life and human cloning as worthy of “open and objective discussion”, is an attempt to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial. Forrest’s testimony notwithstanding, the bill was passed by the state’s legislature – by a majority of 94 to 3 in the House and by unanimous vote in the Senate. On 28 June, Louisiana’s Republican governor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, signed the bill into law. The development has national implications, not least because Jindal is rumoured to be on Senator John McCain’s shortlist as a potential running mate in his bid for the presidency.
Born in 1971 to parents recently arrived from India, Jindal is a convert to Roman Catholicism and a Rhodes scholar – hardly the profile of a typical Bible-belt politician. Yet in a recent national television appearance he voiced approval for the teaching of ID alongside evolution. He also enjoys a close relationship with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a lobbying group for the religious right whose mission statement includes “presenting biblical principles” in “centers of influence”. It was the LFF which set the bill in motion earlier this year.
“We believe that to teach young people critical thinking skills you have to give them both sides of an issue,” says Gene Mills, executive director of the LFF. When asked whether the new law fits with the organisation’s religious agenda, Mills told New Scientist: “Certainly it’s an extension of it. …
The strategy being employed in Louisiana by proponents of ID – including the Seattle-based Discovery Institute – is more subtle and potentially more difficult to challenge. Instead of trying to prove that ID is science, they have sought to bestow on teachers the right to introduce non-scientific alternatives to evolution under the banner of “academic freedom”.
“Academic freedom is a great thing,” says Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California. … “To apply ‘academic freedom’ to high school is a misuse of the term.”
“It’s very slick,” says Forrest. “The religious right has co-opted the terminology of the progressive left… They know that phrase appeals to people.” …
So far, representatives from six states have taken up the idea. In Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and Alabama, bills were introduced but failed. An academic freedom bill now in committee in Michigan is expected to stall there.
Louisiana is another story. A hub of creationist activism since the early 1980s, it was Louisiana that enacted the Balanced Treatment Act, which required that creationism be taught alongside evolution in schools. In a landmark 1987 case known as Edwards vs Aguillard, the US Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional, effectively closing the door on teaching “creation science” in public schools. ID was invented soon afterwards as a way of proffering creationist concepts without specific reference to God. …
When Jindal was elected governor last year, the stage was set. The LFF approached Ben Nevers, a state senator, who agreed to introduce the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act on their behalf. “They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin’s theory,” Nevers told the Hammond Daily Star in April. The bill was later amended and renamed the Louisiana Science Education Act. Its final version includes a statement that the law should not be taken as promoting religion.
That way, those who wish to challenge Darwinian evolution have “plausible deniability” that this is intended to teach something unconstitutional, says Eric Rothschild of the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton, which represented the parents at the Dover trial. “They are better camouflaged now.” …
The Louisiana Science Education Act
WHAT THE LAW SAYS:
The state… shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment… that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied, including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. (Section 1B)
WHAT OPPONENTS FEAR:
Any Louisiana school official is now free to present evolution and other targeted topics as matters of debate rather than broadly accepted science. Books and other materials that support this view can be used in class alongside standard science texts. The onus will be on parents to spot violations of the rules on separation of church and state.
PS- The notion that Jindal will be VP is crazy. He’s less experienced than Obama and he’d cost McCain the racist vote.