Religion in Society

Teachers Unite Against Iowa Anti-Evolution Bill

Over two hundred faculty members at Iowa's colleges and universities have
endorsed a statement calling on Iowa's legislature to reject House File
, the so-called Evolution Academic Freedom Act. Responding to the bill's
contention that "current law does not expressly protect the right of instructors
to objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of
scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution," the statement
explains, "It is misleading to claim that there is any controversy or dissent
within the vast majority of the scientific community regarding the scientific
validity of evolutionary theory. Since there is no real dissent within the
scientific community ... 'academic freedom' for alternative theories is simply a
mechanism to introduce religious or non-scientific doctrines into our science

HF 183 contends that "instructors have experienced or feared discipline,
discrimination, or other adverse consequences as a result of presenting the full
range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution," and its
sponsor, Rod A. Roberts (R-District 51), told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (February 27,
2009) that his bill is "about the freedom that an instructor and students can
engage in without fear of criticism, censure or fear of losing one's job." But
such claims of persecution have not been substantiated, the authors of the
statement — Hector Avalos of Iowa State University and James W. Demastes and
Tara C. Smith of the University of Iowa — explained to the Ames Tribune (February 25,

NCSE's Glenn Branch told the Chronicle of Higher Education (February
25, 2009) that the new Iowa statement is apparently the first organized response
to such a bill by college faculty members throughout a state. Between the
opposition from college and university instructors and the opposition of the
Iowa State Education Association — the state affiliate of the National Education
Association, representing over 34,000 education employees in Iowa — the bill's
prospects are dim. Although the University of Iowa is not taking a position on
the bill, its legislative liaison was quoted by the Press-Citizen
as saying, "From what I've heard, I don't anticipate it making it past the first
funnel. We have concerns about the bill, but we are not expecting it to

Read the Opposing Views debate, "Does Intelligent Design have Merit?"