In a Field of Anti-Science Candidates, Santorum Sets Himself Apart

When it comes to being anti-science, none of the GOP presidential contenders have much to distinguish themselves from the pack. Well, except for Mitt Romney, who took what shouldn’t be a brave stance, but kind of is among his conservative peers, when he said that he accepted the reality of climate change.

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire. “It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

But with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s announcement Monday that he is entering the race, one candidate may have now emerged who is so anti-science that he sets himself apart from the rest.

Like his fellow candidates (save Romney) Santorum doesn’t accept the reality of climate change and uses the same cherry-picking and misleading data to make his argument.

…maybe Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10.

He’s also fervently anti-abortion and has argued that a fetus should have the same legal rights of personhood as, well, a person. He also opposes embryonic stem cell research.

But what most separates him from the rest was his active involvement in trying to get intelligent design into the public schools—before he back-pedaled from it when it looked like a losing proposition.

Santorum is known for the so-called “Santorum Amendment,” which was proposed as part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act as a veiled attempt to get pro-intelligent design language into a federal law.

Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.

While the wording was removed before the final passage of the bill, it remains part of the legislative history. It carries no authority, but remains in the notes as sort of a fossil record of the bill’s discussions. Still that hasn’t kept creationists and intelligent design proponents from arguing that it’s part of the law, evidently with Santorum’s blessing.

During the 2005 trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover, the school board’s attorney Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center tried to make the argument that federal law recommended that students learn alternatives to evolution such as the teaching of intelligent design.

At the time, Santorum was an advisor to the Thomas More Law Center and had even written an editorial endorsing the school board’s actions.

Recently, the Dover Area School District in York County updated their biology curriculum in an attempt to create a more balanced approach to teaching evolution. A statement regarding the status of evolutionary theory and the existence of alternative theories will be read to all students during the time evolution is studied in the high school biology course. Additionally, students will be able to voluntarily view reference books in the library that present a variety of cutting-edge scientific views both supporting and opposing Darwinian theory. The Dover Area School District has taken a step in the right direction by engaging in the debate and attempting to teach the controversy of evolution. 

One day after Judge John E. Jones III struck down the teaching of intelligent design in public school science class as unconstitutional, Santorum—on the verge of losing his Senate seat to current Senator Bob Casey—quit the TMLC board. He also denounced the teaching of ID.

Santorum said he wasn’t “comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom,” proving that not only is he anti-science, but he’s dishonest, too.

laurilebo@gmail.com'

Lauri Lebo is the author of The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, a book about the 2005 First Amendment trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism.