Florida’s Axis of Creationism

During Florida’s 2008 creationism legislative battle, initiated by State Senator Ronda Storms and Representative Alan Hays, a creationist dentist, we made an interesting observation in Florida’s Anti-Evolution Bills: Sectarian Legislation? After watching the news every day, we mentioned this peculiar coincidence about the key players’ church membership:

Ronda Storms, sponsor of the Senate version of the creationism bill — First Baptist Church in Brandon.
Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden), majority leader in the Senate — First Baptist Church of Central Florida.
Alan Hays, sponsor of the House version of the creationism bill — First Baptist Church in Umatilla.
Kim Kendall, a stay-at-home mom and leading witness for the creationist legislation — First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Donna Callaway, of the Florida’s State Board of Education, evolution opponent — First Baptist Church in Tallahassee.

This was a curious collection of facts. Then, in Florida Anti-Evolution Bills: Inside Info, we pointed out that the Florida Baptist Witness had been an excellent inside source of information about the anti-evolution legislation introduced by Senator Ronda Storms. We also mentioned that the Florida Baptist Convention had a legislative consultant who was keeping the Florida Baptist Witness informed of the creationism bills’ progress.

We finally concluded, in Florida Creationism Bills — Two Informed Opinions, that the best information about anti-evolution legislation in Florida was coming either from the Florida Baptist Witness or the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). It appeared to us that it was only after one of those two sources disclosed what was happening did the traditional press report it. The rare exceptions were press conferences to which the media had direct access.

We didn’t notice this this before, but given the unusual pattern described above we went looking, and we found that Senator Stephen R. Wise, who has promised to introduce similar legislation this year, is a member of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. That tidbit comes from this almost two year old article in Florida Baptist Witness: New governor opens Florida legislative session.

From these observations we regard the Florida Baptist Convention and the Florida Baptist Witness to be part of the faith-based network of the Discoveroids, and they constitute the principal Axis of Creationism in Florida. We have therefore been scanning the Florida Baptist Witness for early indications of what we can expect in Florida for this year.

And while scanning the Witness we just now found this new article: Point of View, By Charles Colson. We won’t bother to give you any excerpts. Click over there and read it if you think you can stand it.

Let us say only that Colson’s article is the most bizarre creationist rant we’ve seen from a recognizable name. He raised almost every goofball point except “Why are there still monkeys?” We suspect that the only reason it was omitted is because Colson ran out of room, but it’s probably a real Darwin-killer in his mind. The only time we’ve seen stranger rants is the occasional letter to the editor written by solitary psychos living in trailers in deep rural isolation.

What do we conclude from this? In our experience, tactics and talking points flow from the Discoveroids to the Florida members of their faith-based network, and then appear in the Florida Baptist Witness. From there they will soon find their way into the Florida legislature. Different states have different arrangements, but this is the Axis of Creationism in Florida. Colson’s rant is probably a good indication of the thinking behind this year’s creationist initiative in the legislature.

We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again: We don’t care what church someone belongs to. We don’t care what children are taught at home or in Sunday school. Such things are private family matters, with which we have no desire to interfere.

We rarely take notice of what denomination a creationist belongs to, because it doesn’t matter, at least not to us. However, in the Florida situation it’s impossible to avoid seeing the denominational connections.

Regardless of denomination, legislating to teach creationism in the state-run schools isn’t a private act of personal faith — it’s theocratic aggression, and it’s evil.

See also: Florida’s Axis of Creationism, Part II.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Florida’s Axis of Creationism

  1. The Florida Baptist Convention is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention – these are the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson/Mike Huckabee creationist types who often aren’t big on separation of church and state.

    I must point out that mainline Baptists, on the other hand, have ben valuable allies in support of evolution. There is Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. Rev. Harry Parrott, Jr. spoke out against the Florida “academic freedom” bills at last year’s public hearing. Rev. Jeremy Rutledge recently wrote this excellent piece at TFN.

    On the other hand, the single most encouraging piece of information from this recent NPR piece was from Southern Baptist minister Henry Green:

    “Fundamentalists want to take people away from real science and put on some sort of bogus discussion about intelligent design or creationism,” Green says. “Well, guess what? I believe God created. But I just happen to believe that the scientists have it right in understanding that creation.”

    If the SBC turns away from creationism, it will have a seismic effect upon acceptance of evolution in the US.

  2. James says: “If the SBC turns away from creationism, it will have a seismic effect upon acceptance of evolution in the US.”

    Yes, it’s a big denomination. It’s surprising that in Florida they’ve left their fingerprints all over the creationism issue. I’m sure I’m not the only one to spot the connections.

  3. Hot diggity! I’ll post on it a tad latter this evening.

  4. Posted. It didn’t take too long.

  5. 1 degree of separation from your list of fame … and less than 100 feet,

    Don’t you feel sorry for me now??

    But for some reason – I can’t imagine what – I’ve been taken off of her e mail list!! Damn!! 😉

  6. Stacy says: “But for some reason – I can’t imagine what – I’ve been taken off of her e mail list!!”

    What are you talking about?

  7. Oops – typo!! Should’ve read

    “I can’t imagine WHY I’ve been taken off of her e mail list”! (snark)

    (her= my creationist neighbor who is on your list of Florida Southern Baptists above)

  8. Stacy says: “… my creationist neighbor …”

    Consider evolving into another neighborhood.

  9. Hah!! I would if I thought I could sell my house!

  10. Isn’t Ronda Storms a porn star?