In an op-ed for The Oklahoma Observer, Hutchison and current OESE President Richard E. Broughton explained that there are no “scientific weaknesses” to evolution. Suggesting that there are will undermine students’ understanding of science and their entire education.
“This [bill],” he concluded, “is part of a nationwide effort by the Discovery Institute…to transform the United States into a fundamentalist Christian theocracy.”
The Mississippi legislature also grappled with a creationist-backed bill this session. Rep. Gary Chism introduced HB 25 that would require the State Board of Education to include a disclaimer on the front cover of science textbooks.
It would read: “The word ‘theory’ has many meanings, including: systematically organized knowledge; abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan; or a systematic statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations.”
The Mississippi Education Committee also debated SB 2127, a bill allowing schools to offer a Bible course that teaches “the influence of the Old or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values and culture.”
According to AU’s Sher, Bible courses must be academic, neutral and objective to pass constitutional muster in the federal courts.
“Bible courses cannot be used to push a narrow religious viewpoint,” Sher said. “This bill would allow public schools to teach the moral code of a particular religion, something our Constitution does not allow.”
Sher said Americans United is working to stop all of these threats to public education. She expects to see more church-state challenges aimed at the schools as the year goes on, and she is counting on AU’s local chapters, members and allies in other organizations to help with grassroots lobbying.
Prescott is ready and willing to handle any more of these challenges in Oklahoma, not just because he believes these measures are unconstitutional, but also because he finds them offensive as a deeply religious person.
“Agents of the state have no business leading in acts of worship,” he said. “When they do, they dilute it, demean and diminish religion. They just water it down until it is meaningless &– and all for political power.”
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).