August 29, 2014
Evolution's 'weaknesses' can be taught in Tenn.
Posted on Apr 11, 2012 | by Staff

Email this Story

My Name*:
My Email*:
  Enter list of email recipients, one address per box
Recipient 1*
Recipient 2
Recipient 3
Recipient 4
Recipient 5
To fight spam-bots, we need to verify you're a real human user.
Please enter your answer below:
Who was the first man?
  * = Required Fields Close
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- A bill that will allow Tennessee public school teachers to present the weaknesses of scientific theories such as evolution has become law without the governor's signature.

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam returned the bill to the legislature Tuesday (April 10) without vetoing it or signing it, signaling that he's not fully pleased with it but also acknowledging that his veto could be overridden. The bill passed the House, 72-23 and the Senate, 25-8.

"The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a 3-to-1 margin," Haslam was quoted as saying in The Tennessean, "but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective."

Supporters called it an academic freedom bill. At least 10 states now have similar laws, according to the Discovery Institute, which supports the laws.

The new law says legislators believe teachers may be "unsure" what they are allowed to say on some issues, and it listed four examples, although it said the list isn't exhaustive: "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

The law further says that an important purpose of scientific education is "to help students develop critical thinking skills." To that end, the law says, state officials cannot prohibit teachers "from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories."

Significantly, the new law says it "only protects the teaching of scientific information" and "shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine."

Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the law will offer legal protections to teachers who "teach creationist concepts."

"A school district somewhere in the state is going to implement these reckless policies and get sued," Boston wrote on the organization's website. "The courts have been clear on this. Public schools cannot teach creationism, which is a religious concept favored by some fundamentalist Christians, in science class."

But John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, said the law is needed.

"More than 85 years ago, Tennessee teacher John Scopes appealed for the right to teach students all of the scientific evidence," West said. "This historic bill now secures that right. It's ironic that many of today's defenders of evolution have abandoned Scopes' plea for free discussion and are pushing for censorship and intolerance in the classroom instead."

Casey Luskin an attorney with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture, said many teachers around the country are "harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired" for presenting evidence critical of evolution, even if they prevent evidence for it. The law, Luskin said, will protect such teachers.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.
Latest Stories
  • Platt assures new missionaries, 'This mission will succeed!'
  • TRUSTEES: Funding for short-term workers, Mideast refugee crisis accompany Platt vote
  • Stand, fight for religious liberty, Platt says
  • Bolivian laws threaten religious liberty
  • Healed ALS patient takes Ice Bucket Challenge
  • 2nd VIEW: Pastor David Platt succeeds Tom Elliff as IMB president
  • FIRST-PERSON: Bullying & doing the right thing
  • Bible Study: August 31, 2014
  • Add Baptist Press to
    your news reader


     © Copyright 2014 Baptist Press. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

    Southern Baptist Convention