Creationist Legislation in Michigan: Update

WE’VE PREVIOUSLY reported on anti-science — specifically anti-evolution — legislation in Michigan, for example: Creationism in Michigan, but there hasn’t been any news on this topic for almost two months.

We thought our fans would appreciate a link so that you can keep up with the bill’s current status. It’s known as Senate Bill 1361. The bill was referred to the committee on education back on June 3, and no further action has occured. That’s why there have been no news stories.

This link is to a list of all the bills in the Senate Education Committee. If you scroll down you’ll find SB 1361. Tidy description: “Education; curricula; academic freedom to teach evidence regarding controversial scientific subjects; allow.” The last column is for the bill’s “Status,” and it’s blank. The committee has done nothing.

The website of Michigan Citizens for Science hasn’t been updated since the bill was sent to that committee, but we assume they’ll have useful information when anything happens.

As we understand it, the Michigan legislature remains in session most of the year; the current session will be ending some time in December. There’s plenty of time for something to happen.

Here is a link to the current text of the Senate’s bill: Senate Bill 1361. We’ll excerpt a few choice sections to give you the flavor of this legislation, adding bold to highlight the usual code words currently employed by creationists in all such legislative endeavors:

(1) The legislature understands that an important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills … The legislature further understands that the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, human impact of climate change, and human cloning, can cause controversy

That’s the statement of legislative intent. As with all creationist political initiatives, it carefully avoids mentioning the true intent, which is to sneak Noah’s Ark into public school science class while pretending that it’s a serious alternative to the “controversial” theory of evolution. Here’s the bill’s next section:

(2) … The state board [and everyone down the line from them] shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages pupils to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues. … Toward this end, these educational authorities shall allow teachers to help pupils understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.

Ah yes, “critical thinking” about the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. Creationists may be scientifically ignorant (that’s the most polite thing we can say), but they’ve certainly mastered the art of doubletalk.

Then the bill gets to the guts of the matter:

(3) The state board [and all the others under their control] shall not prohibit any teacher in a public school in this state from helping a pupil to understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.

Get that? No one can stop a teacher from presenting the “scientific theory” of Noah’s Ark as a supplement to the alleged “weaknesses” of evolution. The next section is more devious:

(4) This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and this section shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

Thanks, dear creationist lawmakers, for telling us how to construe this law. But if your teachers don’t teach religious doctrines, then there won’t be any problems about how this law or their actions are construed. If you’re serious, then forget about that “not construed” stuff. Why not draft the law to specifically prohibit the presentation of religious doctrines like creationism and intelligent design? We know the reason, don’t we?

Don’t waste your time legislating how your law will be construed. That’s entirely out of your control. Instead, why don’t you tell us why you need this law? Isn’t science already being taught in Michigan?

Folks, it’s just another of those so-called “academic freedom” bills, the type being touted by the Discovery Institute (the Discoveroids). Here’s the Discoveroid bill for comparison: Academic Freedom Act. There are some cosmetic differences, but there are similarities too. In fact, section 6 of the Michigan bill actually says: “This section shall be known as the “academic freedom law.”

Well, there’s your update. The bill is just sitting there in a Senate committee. If it becomes law, the floodgates will be wide open, and a tidal wave of mumbo-jumbo will sweep away all rationality in Michigan schools.

Gentle reader, if you didn’t already know what we’re about to tell you, it’s time you did: Politicians are generally a slimy lot; and creationist politicians are the slimiest, most ignorant, and most dishonest of all.

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