Indiana House Might Not Consider Creationist Bill

February 9, 2012

As you might recall, the Indiana Senate last week voted 28-22 in favor of an amended version of the controversial Senate Bill 89, which would allow public schools across the state to teach children the creation stories of various mainstream religions.

The bill, as introduced by Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), originally read that school boards and other authorized educational administrators could "require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation." It was amended by Sen. Vi Simpson (D-District 40) to read that: 

“The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.”

Yet while SB 89 passed the Senate, several lawmakers in the Indiana House of Representatives are signaling that they will not consider the bill. 

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-District 88) told the Northwest Indiana Times earlier this week that "delving into an issue that the United States Supreme Court has, on at least on one occasion, said is not compliant with the Constitution may be a side issue and someplace we don't need to go. Parents, families have a choice on where their children go to school; it's an increasing choice now due to the legislation we passed last year."

Bosma was referring to state's school voucher program, which the Center for Inquiry (CFI) finds troubling.

Meanwhile, House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning (R-District 91) recently cast doubt on whether the bill was practical. "I think it's almost impossible to find somebody who would know about all those different theories of creation," he told the Indianapolis Star.

These concerns echo several of ours. The amended version of SB 89 was a supposed middle ground between religious and secular positions. But while it was certainly an improvement over the explicitly creationist version, CFI still had serious concerns, all of which I outlined here

CFI has been working on this bill from the very beginning. On January 18, we wrote to the ten members of the Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, urging them to withdraw or oppose SB 89. Our letter stressed that the bill was unconstitutional and in violation Edwards v. Aguillard, and faced a doomed yet costly court battle. CFI-Indiana Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden also attended a public hearing just before the vote to read our letter aloud and field questions from the committee members. Despite our best efforts, the committee approved the bill 8-2, leading to the full Senate vote. We are now lobbying House members to move onto more important noteworthy and important matters.

 

We will continue to track this bill and keep you updated.

 

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