By Simon Brown
The attitude of the Indiana Senate seems to be: if at first you can’t make a bill constitutional, try, try again.
Yesterday I wrote about SB 89, legislation advancing through the Indiana Senate that would “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science” in public school science classes.
Later in the day, the Senate made some changes to the measure thanks to amendments from Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington). The new language says any science courses offered at public schools must include theories on the origins of life on Earth from several religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
Simpson said she didn’t think her changes would fix the constitutional issues with the bill, but the new language might keep some schools from favoring one religious perspective over others in science classes.
"It does make it clear that a school board can't just say we're only going to teach Christian creation theory but we also have to cover other multiple religions," Simpson said, according to an Associated Press report.
Unfortunately, this legislation isn’t any better from a constitutional standpoint because no religion or religions of any kind should be taught in a science class.
The amended language does, however, make it clear that the legislators know “creation science” is fundamentalist Christianity masquerading as science. So now the Senate is trying to make the bill appear “fair,” but fairness is not the issue.
Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), the longtime creationism advocate who authored the original version of the bill, said he backed the changes because it would give his proposal a better chance to pass.
“Most of those other main religions also believe in creation," Kruse said, according to the AP.
Kruse is right about what many religions believe to be true, but he’s completely wrong about what should be taught in a science class. Here’s a hint: it’s not creationism.
No matter how much lipstick the Senate puts on this constitutionally dubious pig, the legislation still isn’t going to withstand a legal challenge, because the U.S Supreme Court hasn’t changed its stance on teaching creationism in public schools.
Kruse, who is chair of the Senate Education Committee, says on his website many times that he “puts students first.” But if Kruse gets his way, he’ll end up putting Indiana students dead last when it comes to scientific knowledge and understanding.
I hope Kruse is willing to give those students jobs when nobody else will hire them.