Creationist Rumblings in Louisiana

The Baton Rouge Advocate has an article about creationist rumblings in one of Louisiana’s school districts. At a meeting this week, board members and officials with the Livingston Parish School District discussed their state’s 2008 Science Education Act (LSEA), which its opponents argue was written in order to sneak Christianity into science class. The folks behind the law, meanwhile, are shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that anyone could accuse them of such a thing. All they are trying to do, they argue, is improve science education.

So it’s interesting to read how Livingston district officials view the law:

The discussion came up during a report on the pupil progression plan for the 2010-11 school year, delivered by Jan Benton, director of curriculum. Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes. Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”

Whether anything will come of the discussion remains to be seen. For now, the board appears supportive, but non-committal:

When Martin suggested that the board appoint a committee to study the possibility of introducing creationism into the classroom, his opinion met with general, if unofficial approval.

“We shouldn’t just jump into this thing, but we do need to look at it,” Martin said. “The American Civil Liberties Union and even some of our principals would not be pleased with us, but we shouldn’t worry about the ACLU. It’s more important that we do the correct thing for the children we educate.”

Meanwhile, Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy of science professor and one of intelligent design’s most damning critics, responds to the Livingston Parish discussion, providing some interesting context and delivering a dead-on blow-by-blow account of the religious motivations of those behind the law this week in the Hammond Daily Star. The Louisiana Family Forum, along with the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute, was a chief lobbyist for LSEA. It is now embarking on a campaign to review all new science textbooks before their adoption. By the way, the Family Forum’s mission statement is to “persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.”

Forrest writes:

The LSEA was only the beginning. The LFF’s attack on science textbooks is next. And now the Livingston Parish School Board has announced its intention to consider teaching creationism. This is what the Legislature, BESE, and Bobby Jindal have enabled the LFF to pull off. Throughout it all, the citizens of Louisiana have remained almost completely silent. With a few commendable exceptions, the scientific community has done the same. Will they finally do something this time to stop the assault on science and public education?

Science education watchdogs have been waiting for one of Louisiana’s school districts to implement creationism into science class in response to the law. Whether this will go anywhere is hard to tell, but the board’s statements prove once again the wisdom of Lenny Flank’s Rule, which goes something like this: Given enough time to talk, the intelligent design creationists will always shoot themselves in the foot. Eventually, they will bring religion into the discussion, because for them, that’s what it’s all about.

Which means no matter how much Gov. Jindal and his supporters at the Louisiana Family Forum and the Discovery Institute argue that they are only motivated by sound science education, their true motivations are forcing their religious beliefs on other people’s children.

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