WE KEEP EXPECTING something to happen in Louisiana. Our last article about the anti-science, anti-evolution legislation in that state was almost two months ago: Louisiana Science Education Remains in Chaos. Things were dragging then, when we wrote:
WE’VE BEEN WAITING for some news out of Louisiana about how they’re going to handle the miraculous “academic freedom” bestowed upon them by their creationist legislature. That governmental organ, in its wisdom, passed the misleadingly named “Louisiana Science Education Act,” which authorizes the use of unspecified “supplementary materials” — wink, wink — for teaching evolution in state-run science classes.
Nothing has happened in the nearly two months since we wrote that. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), which seems to have the legal authority to make rules for approving those “supplementary materials,” hasn’t taken any action.
However, although the responsible officials haven’t yet done their duty, concerned citizens aren’t being idle. At the website of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, Dr. Barbara Forrest (a star witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) has posted an excellent article: Message to Louisiana School Districts: The LA Science Education Act’s Religion Disclaimer Won’t Protect You. A few excerpts:
One of the clearest indications that the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) is intended to advance the religious agenda of the Discovery Institute (DI) and the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), the organizations that jointly promoted this legislation, is the law’s inclusion of a religion disclaimer that comes directly from DI’s doublespeak-titled “Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution.”
Excellent point! That self-serving, legalistic disclaimer says: “This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine …” It’s modeled after the equally-deceptive Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute.
Rather than the futility of telling judges to construe the act as being something other than what it obviously is — a pro-creationism act, why didn’t the legislators write a clause in their act that said something like this:
This act does not authorize — indeed, it prohibits — the presentation, by any state employee in any state school, of any religious doctrine, even when erroneously labeled as a scientific theory. This prohibition includes, but isn’t limited to, creationism, creation “science,” and intelligent design.
We know the answer, don’t we?
Dr. Forrest’s article goes on to say:
In recognition of the religious intent of the LSEA, Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek has sent a letter [pdf] dated August 27, 2008, to all “City, Parish, and other Local School Superintendents; Recovery School District Superintendents; Special School District Directors; and, Presidents of School Boards.”
That letter spells out the law against teaching religious doctrines in public schools, and it says:
Religious theories cannot be advanced under the guise of encouraging critical thinking. Written materials or oral presentations that teach creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind or that state that evolution is only a theory are prohibited. “Academic freedom” does not encompass the structuring of public school curriculum in order to promote religious beliefs.
Dr. Forrest also requests to be notified if “any Louisiana citizen has evidence that a school board or an individual teacher is using creationist materials in a Louisiana public school science class.”
If you are interested in science education — not only in Louisiana but elsewhere, because this issue will surely spread to other states — we recommend that you read Dr. Forrest’s article in its entirety, including all of the material to which she links. If you’re not interested in science education, you should be — it’s essential for the preservation of our civilization.
Also (he modestly said) we recommend an earlier article of our own: Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom Act” — Presumptively Void.