Bibles are firmly rooted in public school science classrooms in Louisiana. The Idaho GOP Central Committee wants to replicate the Pelican State’s educational model.
But nothing worth doing is easy. The experience in Louisiana should show Idaho Republicans, if they really want to put the Bible back in the hands of public school teachers, especially science teachers, they need to be ready for evolutionists and Democrats to push back, and push back hard.
The fight to continue to allow Louisiana teachers to introduce “supplementary materials” into their science classes as part of the discussion of creationism, the Big Bang theory, and climate change is an annual affair.
Louisiana Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D) testified before a Senate Education Committee in 2014 that the state’s Science Education Act pushed their state back into the “Dark Ages” when it was approved in 2008.
“Creationism is being taught in Louisiana public schools and I don’t think it is appropriate that it is taught in science classes,” Peterson said.
She lost that fight. But, Peterson and other Louisiana Democrats are continuing to try to get the Science Education Act repealed in 2015.
Again, it looks like they have no hope. Peterson’s proposal, SB 74 — the Intelligent Outcomes Wanted Act (IOWA) — is stuck in the Senate Education Committee.
The Science Education Act was the first of its kind in the U.S. It permits teachers to bring in material other than the textbooks that have been approved by their school districts to help students “analyze, critique, and review scientific theories.”
“(In reality) I think this law provides an opportunity for creationism to be snuck into science classrooms under the guise of supplemental materials to critique controversial scientific theories such as evolution and climate change,” Peterson added.
However, there are scientists who have supported Louisiana’s Science Education Act. They strongly disagree with Peterson’s assertion that the LSEA is nothing but a loophole through which Christians can slip creationism into public school curriculum.
“The vocal activists who oppose the LSEA are seeking to confuse the issue, since the LSEA is not about creationism. In fact, when a group of Nobel Laureates recently signed a letter calling for the repeal of the LSEA, it is noteworthy that their letter refused to quote from the law itself and instead harped upon the distraction of ‘creationism.’ The truth is that LSEA does not permit teaching for or against any religious viewpoint,” Louisiana College biology professor Wade Warren, Ph.d., said in written testimony submitted to the Louisiana Senate Education Committee in 2011.
“If Darwin were alive today, he would urge us to teach his theory objectively. In Origin of Species, Darwin explained ‘a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question,’” he added.
Warren’s letter was co-signed by 14 fellow scientists, with doctorates.
Some Louisiana teachers don’t see any reason to hide the fact they use the Bible in science classes.
“We will read in Genesis and them [sic] some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present,” said Shawna Creamer, a science teacher at Airline High School, in an email to principal Jason Rowland, Slate magazine reported.
This sounds great to Idaho Republicans who want their public school teachers to use Bibles in science classes, too.
It would be a mistake to assume this is the work of a fringe element on the outskirts of mainstream Republican thought patterns in Idaho. No less than the state’s GOP Central Committee approved the “Resolution Supporting Bible Use in Idaho Public Schools” during a weekend meeting in June.
However, its approval came after one of the Republicans raised fears that the Quran might find its way into classrooms, too. So the Idaho GOP Central Committee squashed resolution language that would have allowed students to enroll in Bible classes in public schools.
But the resolution encourages the state Legislature to pass a new law that would allow the Bible to be used in “the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, U.S. and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.”
The resolution, which was one of only three proposals approved by the Idaho GOP Central Committee at its June meeting, pointed to the Idaho Constitution, which includes the phrase “Almighty God” in its preamble, the Idaho Republican Party Platform that states “We believe the strength of our nation lies with our faith and reliance on God our Creator, the individual and the family…” and congressional approval of the “use of Holy Bibles for use in all schools” in 1782, as justification for allowing Bibles in public schools.
Charlotte Hinson, a fifth-grade teacher in Louisiana who uses the Bible as part of classroom discussions of creationism and evolution, explained her rationale in a much shorter sentence.
Hinson wrote in a newspaper column in her local paper, “God made science.”