Oklahoma Creationism Bill for 2015

Josh Brecheen

Things are definitely not OK in Oklahoma. First we reported about an Oklahoma Bible Bill for 2015 that would authorize bible study classes in state public schools. Now, our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) just posted this news: Antievolution legislation in Oklahoma. They say, with bold font added by us:

Senate Bill 665 (document), styled the Oklahoma Science Education Act, is the third antiscience bill of the year. SB 665 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and discourage responsible educational authorities from intervening. No scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 665 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced similar legislation that directly targeted evolution in previous legislative sessions, is suggestive.

Lordy, lordy — Josh Brecheen — that’s his page at the website of the Oklahoma legislature. He does something like this every year. This is what we wrote about his effort last year: Oklahoma Creationism: Josh Brecheen Again. And back in December of 2010 we wrote Oklahoma’s Senator Josh Brecheen: Totally Crazed.

Leaving out non-essential verbiage, here are the guts of Brecheen’s new bill, with bold font added by us for emphasis:


SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Oklahoma Science Education Act.”

SECTION 2. A. The State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals shall endeavor to create an environment within public school districts that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

B. The State Board of Education, school district boards of education, school district superintendents and school principals shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies. Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

C. Neither the State Board of Education, nor any school district board of education, school district superintendent or school principal shall prohibit any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

D. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

Does it look familiar? It should — it’s pretty much what Brecheen proposed last year. It’s loosely based on the anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute. We’ve critiqued their model bill here: Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws.

As we said last year:

Hey, Brecheen: If you’re serious about drafting a non-religious bill, then stop tap-dancing around with that bogus “shall not be construed” nonsense and include language that says: “This bill doesn’t authorize teaching creationism or intelligent design.” But of course, that’s the last thing you want, isn’t it?

You can follow the progress of Brecheen’s new bill here: SB 665. Nothing’s happened yet. It looks like he pre-filed it. The legislative session doesn’t start until 02 February, and it adjourns on 29 May.

One of our clandestine operatives — code named “OO” — informs us that Brecheen has also introduced some unrelated legislation. We were told: “His SB650 lists 52 topics to be covered in U.S. History, including obvious foundational documents, but [it] also includes [the] motto of U.S. [“In God we trust”], Johm Winthrop’s [sermon] ‘Model of Christian Charity,’ [a] sermon by Jonathan Edwards ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, [and William Jennings Bryan” speech] ‘Cross of Gold.'” Here’s a link to that bill: SB 650.

With such fine lawmakers, wisely chosen by a thoughtful and well-educated citizenry, we expect only the best results in Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Oklahoma Creationism Bill for 2015

  1. Mike Elzinga

    D. This section only protects the teaching of scientific information

    In other words, it doesn’t protect the pseudoscience of ID/creationism. I could have a lot of fun with that.

    These ID/creationists better be careful what they wish for. In the five decades that ID/creationists have been trying to dodge the law and the courts, they have amassed such a stinking pile of garbage science that the teaching profession is now equipped to demonstrate just how stupid it all is. It is all on record; in ID/creationists writings and in court documents.

    It would not be hard to equip teachers with the core essence of ID/creationist arguments by stripping away all the obfuscation and Gish Galloping. Anyone can do it with a few short sentences that reveal just how stupid the PhDs of ID/creationism have been over the last 50 years.

    Back when Duane Gish was showing up unannounced in biology classrooms and harassing teachers in front of the students, people were blind-sided and were too polite to know how to handle it. Any ID/creationist trying to pull that crap today would be taken out to the woodshed and thoroughly disciplined by both the teachers and the students.

  2. michaelfugate

    Is it just me – or is the black shirt with white tie a dead giveaway for “cluelessness?”

  3. @Mike Elzinga: Good points. I’ve thought that if I taught a high school biology course I could point out through out it how evolution worked and at the end of the last day say: “Well, the politicians in the state legislature mandate that I include a discussion of the evidence for creationism and intellegent design. There isn’t any. As you know, the final exam is next Monday. Class dismissed.”

  4. @abeastwood
    IMHO, a teacher has to be careful of alienating parents, communities, supervisors, school boards, legislators, and students. There are enough teachers who are afraid of teaching evolution even without there being legislation. They have to live in the community and many want to belong to a church. Do you want your kids being called atheists? In reality, a teacher has to approach the subject gently. Teaching science is hard enough as it is.

  5. This law is BS as it makes religious instruction on science class OK, BUT DON’T TRY THE OPPOSITE.
    Kid asks why the buyBull says gawd did it. Teacher says buyBull is BS and throws his copy into trash to make a point and says we will now study science…and is fired that afternoon!!!!!
    Yes I was being sarcastic but the problem isn’t creationism it is that trying to teach real science will probably get a teacher fired.

  6. Stephen Kennedy

    There are controversies in the sciences of Biology, Geology and Astronomy but only experts in those fields understand them and are qualified to discuss them. It is absurd to think that a high school student would have anything useful to add to the discussion of real controversies in these fields. Creationism is not a controversial science topic, nearly all scientists agree that it is pseudoscience and there is no point in discussing it from a scientific point of view.

  7. Section D could be used to cut their own throats. Bunch of dingle berries.

  8. Mike Elzinga

    I don’t think any instructor would have to even mention ID/creationism; just teach the science. But be prepared for a challenge; and if it comes, be prepared to get directly to the misconceptions and misrepresentations of ID/creationism with firmness and solid knowledge.

    As I was just recently pointing out over at Panda’s Thumb, nobody in the science community uses ID/creationist misconceptions and ID/creationist “mathematics” in doing science. For example, you can easily have the physics and chemistry students calculate the energies of interaction of kilogram-sized masses with the same charge-to-mass ratios of protons to demonstrate the ludicrousness of the “tornado-in-a-junkyard” argument against molecular assemblies.

    One can find example after example of ID/creationist misconceptions and misrepresentations of scientific definitions and concepts; and then simply point out that it is the professional responsibility of a professional instructor to avoid using these to mislead students in their learning of science.

    Bills like these would place teachers in the position of presenting fake information as a part of their teaching; and I think teachers can stand up to it just as the teachers at Dover did.

    The sectarian teachers who might be stupid enough to “take advantage” of such a law may soon find parents coming in and demanding that their students not be place in that class with that teacher.

    Politics can no longer save ID/creationists; their 50 years of crap is out there and well documented.

  9. Vulcanthunder

    In the great state of Louisiana, even before they passed the “science” teaching bill, we had full blown creationists teaching that junk as science even in grade school. It didn’t do any good for parents to complain to the principle or school board because they were creationists too. The law just made it legal to do what they were already doing. I imagine they have a similar situation in Oklahoma.

  10. Wait’ll someone tries to teach about ESP, or astrology, or even the perfectly respectable scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and cites this law as authorization. The S will hit the F.

  11. Mike Elzinga

    Heh; Lousiana, Bobby Jindal. What can anyone say?

    We are in the midst of a Republican/Tea Party takeover; so we are very likely to hear a lot of this crap in the next few years.

    But wherever good teachers can be found – maybe not in the Deep South – there are plenty of ways to make this pseudoscience crap look as stupid as it really is. One needs to know the detailed history of ID/creationism and have a few short summaries of ID/creationist misconceptions and misrepresentations of science to be able to pull together some effective responses.

    You don’t need to attack anyone’s religion; and you don’t even have to be subtle about the misconceptions and misrepresentations. You can use them as illustrations of “common misconceptions and pitfalls.”

    Not too surprisingly, most of the misconceptions and misrepresentations are genetically related to the junk that Henry Morris and Duane Gish churned out. Most of the current ID/creationists don’t know their own “intellectual” genome; but their misconceptions are rooted in the “Scientific” Creationism past.

  12. All creationist legislators should be required to wear a black shirt with white tie for quick and easy identification.

  13. Dave Luckett

    Research is a wonderful thing. I learn that the motto of the United States is indeed “In God we trust”, as adopted in 1956. I had always thought that it was “E pluribus unum” (“Out of many, one”) as shown on the Great Seal.

    May I remark that although that might have sounded like a fine idea back in Eisenhower’s time, it does rather specifically leave out those Americans who don’t trust in God, while the other better expresses a unity more inclusive and worthy of a great nation?

  14. So, if this bill becomes law, a teacher couldn’t be disciplined for teaching or promoting witchcraft, the occult, astrology, Tarot card reading, palm reading, phrenology, fortunetelling using tea leaves, goat entrails, or promoting scientology.

    Did you think about that, Brecheen?

  15. retiredsciguy: The problems of such bills that would allow ANY ideology to be taught has been pointed out many times to the Oklahoma legislators, even in testimony before committees considering the bills. Like most creationists they stick their fingers in their ears. They don’t care; they are just doing the things they THINK their religious constituents desire.