At the website of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we find this headline: Missouri ‘Right to Pray’ Law Could Limit Teaching Evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Last week, Missouri voters gave themselves the right to pray without state interference. But some science educators are worried that the seemingly innocuous referendum on the 7 August ballot, which passed overwhelmingly, could also undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Missouri had two creationist bills in their legislature this year, but neither passed (see Missouri Creationism: Both 2012 Bills Are Dead). Somehow this thing happened without our noticing it. Creationists are always slipping their cultish nonsense into seemingly innocent legislative measures. Let’s see what else Science has to say:
Amendment 2 “is a lawyer’s dream” because of its vagueness, says Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which tracks efforts by groups that oppose evolution. While the amendment begins by declaring that all residents “have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences,” it also lists several situations in which that right must be protected. Rosenau is worried about one particular clause: “that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs.”
We’ve looked around, but we can’t find any official site that gives the wording of that amendment, so we’ll go with Josh Rosenau’s version. Let’s read on:
Those words give students the legal right to skip assignments related to evolution if the subject matter conflicts with their beliefs, Rosenau says. And that exemption could extend throughout their scholastic career, he adds, since evolution is not just taught in one lesson but remains a recurrent theme throughout science education. The amendment also leaves a hole in their coursework, he says, as it provides no guidance on any substitute lessons.
How wonderful for the children in Missouri! They have a right to grow up ignorant –and receive a high school diploma too. We’ll skip to the final paragraph:
Mike Hoey, a supporter of the amendment and executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, thinks that Rosenau is “overanalyzing” the language in the amendment. “I don’t think this will affect science in the classroom in any significant way,” he says. “I think the vast majority of students will want to participate in all units of their science classes.” The amendment makes no mention of providing an alternative curriculum, Hoey adds. So any student who opts out of a biology lesson, he says, “will need to face the consequences” of missing those lessons.
It may be difficult to get the US Supreme Court to declare a state’s Constitution to be unconstitutional, so the people of Missouri could be stuck with this thing. If that’s what they want, they deserve the results. As long as they’re happy, we’re happy.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.