Indiana Creationism: Strange Developments

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reports A stealth antiscience bill in Indiana. There are two interesting items in that article.

First, we’ve been writing about a few different creationism-type bills expected from Dennis Kruse, who is chairman of the Senate education committee. The first was discussed in Discoveroids & Indiana’s 2013 Creationism Bill. Kruse said he intended to introduce one of those “academic freedom” bills based on the Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute, as he had done back in 2012.

But then, in Indiana Creationism: Plan B, we wrote that Kruse had changed his plans. Now he was going to introduce a bill that would allow students to challenge teachers on issues, forcing them to provide evidence to back up their lessons. A generation of kiddies would learn to blurt out “Oh yeah?” whenever a science teacher made a statement.

After that, in Dennis Kruse Again, we wrote that Kruse had another brilliant idea. Now he was going to introduce a bill that would allow schools to require saying the Lord’s Prayer.

Things have changed yet again. NCSE says that Kruse hasn’t filed his “student’s can challenge teachers” bill, and the deadline for filing bills in the Senate has passed. They’re right, he hasn’t filed the first two bills he talked about, but he’s still making mischief. We looked at this list of bills sponsored or co-sponsored by Kruse. Here’s his school prayer bill, Senate Bill 0023. You can track its progress at that link.

He has also introduced Senate Bill 0193, which provides that “the state board of education may not adopt as standards for the state any common core educational standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.” That looks interesting.

But most of NCSE’s post is about a new creationism bill from a different legislator, House Republican Jeff Thompson. To our surprise, his page at the legislature’s website says that he’s a “Retired Chemistry, Physics and Math Teacher, Danville Community High School.” He has introduced House Bill 1283. NCSE says:

Although evolution is not specifically mentioned in the bill, the previous legislation introduced by its sponsor, Jeff Thompson (R-District 28), and the similarity of its language to the language of previous antievolution bills together make it amply clear that the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools is a main target.

Yes, it’s definitely an “academic freedom” bill, but although it’s somewhat watered down, it still has all the Discoveroid code words that we’ve seen in similar legislation in other states. Here are a few excerpts from it, with bold font added for emphasis:

Sec. 0.2.(a) The general assembly finds that:

(1) an important purpose of education is to inform students about evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to become intelligent, productive, and informed citizens;
(2) some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics; and
(3) some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how the teachers should present information and evidence on these topics.


A teacher shall be allowed to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.

The state board, department, governing bodies, governing authorities of accredited nonpublic schools, superintendents, principals, and other administrators may not prohibit a teacher in an accredited school from helping students to understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of existing conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.

(f) This section may not be construed to promote:
(1) any religious or nonreligious doctrine;
(2) discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs; or
(3) discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

As NCSE notes, it doesn’t specifically mention evolution, but it’s nevertheless a classic creationism bill. We’ve previously commented on such bills — see Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

Here’s a link where you can track the progress of House Bill 1283. It’s been referred to Committee on Education, and nothing has happened yet.

The Indiana legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 29 April.

Update: Indiana’s 2013 Creationism Bill — It’s Dead.

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3 responses to “Indiana Creationism: Strange Developments

  1. Great post! It is hard to believe that so many people still willfully reject science. (and even harder to believe that they are in positions to make state and national-level policy decisions)

  2. Have to think that any pragmatic legislator is going to read this bill and say, “WHAT? How is this bill going to make any difference whatsoever?”

    It’s so vague that’s it’s meaningless.

  3. Alex Shuffell

    Kruse is going to pass allow students to challenge teachers and ask them to provide evidence? Is that illegal now? Shouldn’t students being doing that anyway? I do it regularly with my Physics teachers, usually waiting until after the lesson.