Religious Right Targets Louisiana Science Curriculum


By Sandhya Bathija

As we feared, Religious Right activists are moving to undermine Louisiana’s public school science curriculum.

When Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law the “Science Education Act” in 2008, Americans United warned that it was merely another attempt for creationists to slip fundamentalist religion into biology classes.

The law was pushed heavily by the Louisiana Family Forum, a Religious Right organization that promotes creationism and is an affiliate of the James Dobson-founded Focus on the Family. It allows teachers to introduce into the classroom “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” about evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

AU experts and our allies in the state knew the measure was made up of code language that would only serve to threaten the integrity of science education.

And now, not shockingly, the LFF has already started to use it to chip away at evolution and sound science standards by claiming the state’s biology textbooks give too much credibility to Darwin’s theory.

“It is like Charles Darwin and his theory is a saint,” Winston White, of Baton Rouge, said. “You can’t touch it”

White filed a comment with state officials reviewing the textbooks, in cahoots with the LFF, which is leading the textbook criticism. Darrell White, the father of Winston White, is the co-founder of the LFF.

Several Louisiana residents who submitted comments even showed support for the teaching of “intelligent design” (ID) in Louisiana public schools, despite the fact that a federal district court struck down the teaching of ID as religious dogma.

Textbooks are reviewed every seven years in Louisiana and samples that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) review are available in public libraries.

According to Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the LFF had its members and supporters go through the books and write complaints. (Forrest, an Americans United trustee, details the history of Louisiana’s battle over the Science Education Act on her blog.)

Tomorrow, the Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council is supposed to review the issue and then make a recommendation to the state school board.

The meeting is open to the public. Forrest suggests that sound-science activists and church-state separationists in the Baton Rouge area attend. We need all the help we can get.


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