Creationism in Gainesville, Florida

The Florida Ark

The Florida Ark

THIS news comes from Florida’s Alachua County. It’s a bit inland from that enchanted region we’ve been calling The Florida Ark, but it certainly qualifies for inclusion. The Florida what? According to the Curmudgeon’s Glossary:

The Florida Ark is that concave stretch of coast — an arc, get it? — starting at the Alabama border and then sweeping down the shore of the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Tampa, and a bit beyond. This blessed region is home to a great number of creationists.

One might think that the population of a college town would be somewhat better educated than elsewhere, but that seems not to be so. We find this article in the Gainesville Sun: Should creationism be taught in schools?

That newspaper is located in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida. That’s considered a good school, but you will soon see that they’re surround by a population creationists.

This is going to be a somewhat difficult story to tell because the website of the Gainesville Sun says:

You may link to anything you like on or its family of sites. However, all contents are the property of The Gainesville Sun. You may not republish any of the contents of, including photos, text, images and/or other items, electronically or otherwise without express written consent of The Gainesville Sun.

We think their policy is idiotic, but we’ll comply. After searching around for a more cooperative news source, and finding none that have written about this school board election, we’ll have to paraphrase what’s in their article. We will, however, run the risk of quoting a couple of phrases spoken by the candidates. Okay, here we go:

Twelve candidates are running for three seats on the Alachua County School Board. Eight of them showed up at a forum held at some retirement home (how thrilling!) and the question of teaching creationism was raised.

One genius named Bonnie Burgess, running for a seat in District 1, said that “it seems only logical” to teach creationism, because “all facts and theories” should be offered.

April Griffin, another genius, said that teaching creationism was part of a “well-balanced education” that would open the kiddies’ minds. And then another one — Felicia Moss — said the same thing.

Rick Nesbitt is opposed, except for maybe in a philosophy course, and he mentioned separation of church and state; David Palpant seems to agree.

Now we turn to District 3. Two of those candidates, Wayne Gabb and Jodi Wood (Jodi was absent from the forum, apparently) say that creationism should be taught along with evolution. Gunnar Paulson is the only candidate in that race who doesn’t want creationism in the schools.

On to District 5. Jennifer Deachin says creationism is okay in a religion course but not in science. Carol Oyenarte mentioned separation of church and state, but not much else. Christopher Smiley said something that we can’t figure out, and then there’s Jancie Vinson, who was represented at the forum by her preacher — a Methodist. According to him, Janice doesn’t favor teaching creationism.

The article also says that 24 August is the date of the primary election.

From what we make of it, assuming we can rely on the Gainesville Sun, the sane choices are: District 1 — Rick Nesbitt or David Palpant; District 3 — Gunnar Paulson; and District 5 — Jennifer Deachin or Jancie Vinson. So there you are.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Creationism in Gainesville, Florida

  1. Our state’s teaching standards do not allow for the teaching of
    religious dogma. Specifically in science classes. Will you, if elected,
    attempt to subvert those standards in any way?
    That question, to me, would be much better than just asking
    what the candidates religious views are or at least used as a follow up
    From the many reports you have posted here, I think most of the
    reporters asking the questions are as ignorant of science as the
    ones being asked. Where are the follow up questions to those that
    answer without being clear or whose answers so obviously reflect not
    understanding the question asked?

  2. Charley, I think you are spot on about the ignorance of science among reporters.
    I would love to see a reporter ask your question in just the way you posed it.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    In Florida probably quite a lot of reporters are themselves creationists; but it seems no paper anywhere can resist headlines such as “After 150 years Darwin’s theory still controversial” or some such.

  4. Jackie Winston

    I know for a fact that Chris Smiley is not for Creationism. I was present at the Oak Hammock forum and he was clearly AGAINST creationism. It was a poor quote and it is hard to interpret what he actually supports.

  5. Hi this is candidate Chris Smiley. Several people notified me of the article that was published. I was insulted that the reporter jumbled my words and left my position unclear. I made it evident at the forum that I was against creationism in schools. I am running for the board so that I may be a leader in teaching our students how to think. I received several emails about my position and now becasue of poor journalism I have to go out and make sure my position is clear to the public. Thank you all for your concern on this issue. Visit my website for more about my plans for reform in education

  6. Hello, Chris. Thanks for the clarification. Good luck in the election.