Indiana Senate Panel Approves Creationist Bill Despite Center for Inquiry’s Letter, Testimony

January 26, 2012

Reba Boyd Wooden.

Despite the Center for Inquiry's best efforts, an Indiana Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow school boards and other authorized educational administrators in the state to "require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation."

Senate Bill 89, passed 8-2 by the Committee on Education and Career Development, will now go to the full floor of the Indiana Senate.

Committee members who voted for SB 89 included the bill's lead sponsor and committee chair Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), Carlin Yoder (R-District 12), Jim Banks (R-District 17), Jim Buck (R-District 17), Luke Kenley (R-District 20), Jean Leising (R-District 42), Scott Schneider (R-District 30), and Frank Mrvan Jr. (D-District 1). Earline S. Rogers (D-District 3) and Tim Skinner (D-District 38) voted against the bill. To contact these senators, click here.

CFI previously wrote to the ten members of the committee urging them to withdraw or oppose SB 89. Our letter, which stressed that the bill is clearly unconstitutional and in violation of the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard, was signed by Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry; Reba Boyd Wooden, Executive Director of CFI-Indiana; and myself.  To download and view our letter, click here.

Yet while the bill did pass, it did not go through without a fight. Wooden (pictured above) attended a public hearing just before the vote to read our letter aloud and field questions from the committee members. You can read news coverage of Wooden's testimony here and here, watch part of her testimony here, and watch her answer questions here.

Joining Wooden in speaking against the bill were: John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University; Chuck Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association; David Sklar, the Director of Government Relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council; the Reverend Charles Allen, a chaplain for Grace Unlimited, a campus ministry in the Indianapolis area. 

We will continue to track this issue and let you know when the Indiana Senate plans to vote on SB 89. 





#1 Matt Reichenbach on Friday January 27, 2012 at 10:47am

You cite the case Edwards v. Aguillard, where a Louisiana law required creation science to be taught in schools. That differs from the Indiana bill in one important way: SB 89 says “The governing body of a school corporation MAY require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life…” As it’s written, I don’t think the above case applies to SB 89. However, if this becomes law and a district attempts to teach creation science, the judge’s opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District sets out strong guidelines to declare that unconstitutional.

#2 Michael De Dora on Friday January 27, 2012 at 4:54pm

@Matt, thanks for the input. I don’t think the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling would necessarily help us here. That case is concerned with intelligent design, while this case concerns “creation science” (which was taken up in Edwards v. Aguillard). They are obviously related in many ways, but they are also distinctly different.

That said, the “may” language might make things a bit more complex, but I still think the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling and other rulings interpreting the Establishment Clause should be enough to get this one thrown out of court.

#3 Ibzan (Guest) on Friday January 27, 2012 at 7:57pm

“May” is an authorization and implies the backing of the state. Is their a legal distinction between directly requiring and granting the authority to require?

#4 gray1 on Sunday January 29, 2012 at 12:30pm

One should be careful of receiving what he wishes.  There is a difference between the teaching of creation beliefs and the actual promotion of same.  I can hear it now in the junior high classrooms, “How crazy is that?”. 

Going into a vacuum, things are apt to fall into one of two categories, fact and fiction or otherwise stated, science and fantasy.  Today’s young are quite capable of appreciating both for what they are.

#5 Thomas B (Guest) on Monday January 30, 2012 at 8:01am

You’re a lot more optimistic than I am, Gray.  Judging by all the paranormal garbage I see promoted on television, I don’t think people in general are good at distinguishing between fact and fantasy.  :(

#6 gray1 on Monday January 30, 2012 at 12:15pm

What! No ancient aliens?  After all it’s on the HISTORY Channel. But that does bring up the question of futility in trying to save our children from exposure to “garbage” considering they now probably spend more time in front of the TV or on the internet than any effective attention span given to academics. Entertainment trumps reality.

People in general constitute the great unwashed and ignorant masses from which each individual must decide to escape, or not.  For some reason I’m thinking of those toy monkeys and toy robots that wander off in some direction, spin, flash and make noise just to then wander off in another direction and start all over again. 

Perhaps I’m psychic… or just going psycho.  It’s apparently pretty much all the same in TV Land.  It would make sense for us to combat at least the worst of the crap but there’s that No.1 “free speech” thing for the benefit of our oligarchs who enjoy watching their sheep run back and forth. Great entertainment, that.  Baaa

#7 Michael De Dora on Monday January 30, 2012 at 12:27pm


“Is their a legal distinction between directly requiring and granting the authority to require?”

In this case, probably not, since the consequence either way would be religious instruction in public schools.

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