Louisiana Creationism: Zack Strikes Again!

We first spotted this in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana. Their headline is Some Shreveport teachers promote creationism, website reports.

Whoa — wait a minute! That’s a real newspaper. Why are they reporting something they read at a website? They explain that at the start:

Some teachers at a Shreveport high school have promoted creationism in the classroom, anti-creationism activist Zack Kopplin wrote Tuesday (June 2) in Slate.

Aha — it’s Zack Kopplin, who is well-known to readers of this humble blog as a tireless campaigner against the infamous and insidiously-named Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA). We wrote about Zack’s last article in Slate a couple of weeks ago — see Zack & the Louisiana Creationism Repeal Bill. It drove the Discoveroids crazy — see Discovery Institute Attacks Zack Kopplin.

There’s no reason to excerpt any more from the newspaper. Here’s the article in Slate, which is certain to arouse the Discoveroids to even greater frenzy: The Bible v. the Constitution. We know you’re going to click over there to read it, so we’ll only give you a few excerpts, with a bit of bold font added by us for emphasis:

When a student in Louisiana opens her textbook in biology class, she might not have the standard Miller and Levine Biology with a dragonfly on the cover, and she might not ever learn about evolution. For some Louisiana public school students, their science textbook is the Bible, and in biology class they read the Book of Genesis to learn the “creation point of view.”

Through a public records request, I obtained dozens of emails from the Bossier Parish school district that specifically discuss teaching creationism. Shawna Creamer, a science teacher at Airline High School, sent an email to the principal, Jason Rowland, informing him of which class periods she would use to teach creationism. “We will read in Genesis and them [sic] some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present,” Creamer wrote.

And that’s only the beginning! It goes on like that, one disclosure after another. Here are some examples:

In another email exchange with Rowland [principal of Airline High School in Bossier Parish], a parent had complained that a different teacher, Cindy Tolliver, actually taught that evolution was a “fact.” This parent complained that Tolliver was “pushing her twisted religious beliefs onto the class.” Principal Rowland responded, “I can assure you this will not happen again.”


I obtained a PowerPoint about the origin of life that is used in Ouachita Parish Junior High School’s life science classes. It presents evolution as just a theory and says that theories are “possibly true” but “not known or proven to be true.” Creationism is also presented as a theory and given equal footing with evolution. Students are taught that the “[b]asis for creationism is founded in Genesis of the Bible,” and “Creationism relies on the claim that there is a ‘purpose’ to all creation known only to the creator.”

Then he says:

Louisiana school districts are clearly breaking the law all the time, but the Louisiana Legislature still refuses to repeal the Science Education Act. These newly released emails, from districts across the state, show that this law is being used systematically to teach creationism in public schools. This puts Louisiana on a collision course with a First Amendment lawsuit.

Yes, but when is the long-expected court challenge going to happen? That’s difficult to predict. Zack tells us:

All it will take is for one Louisiana parent or student to sue the state for endorsing religion in public school, and teaching creationism will become illegal again. But for the moment, because Louisiana politicians refuse to take action, Louisiana students are reading Genesis in science class.

Go ahead, click over there to read it. We’ll be watching to see what the Discoveroids are going to say. That should be fun.

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20 responses to “Louisiana Creationism: Zack Strikes Again!

  1. Dave Luckett

    Well, there’s only one prediction to make. As with atomic decay, we don’t know which atom is going to split, but we know that one of them is going to be the first, and then if there’s a critical mass, kablooey!

    Maybe nine out of ten Louisiana parents don’t care if creationism is being taught in what are called “science” classrooms in their public schools. Maybe it’s ninety-nine out of a hundred, or nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand. Doesn’t matter. Sooner or later a parent is going to glance at the “supplementary material” brought home by their child, is going to ask “Is this what your teacher is telling you?”, and then it’s Dover all over.

    The teacher is going to be a defendent in a suit. So is the principal, because he/she didn’t discipline the teacher. So is the school district. And they are going to settle, issue a grovelling apology, and promise never to do it or allow it again, and pay everyone’s costs, (and everyone will thus know that the LSEA is a dead letter) or else they are going to attempt to defend it and use the LSEA. They will lose, big-time, huge amounts, that they will then have to recoup from the infuriated taxpayers, and they will then be ejected from their jobs with contumely.

    They’re a bunch of screaming nutbars on this subject, so my money’s on the latter. I hope the suit goes all the way to the Supreme Court, heavily subsidised by every creation mill, Bible barn, on-line ministry, ratbag website and screwball whoopdiedooer in the country, because all of them will then do their money colder than Pluto.

    Regrettably, experience shows that the last won’t happen. Dover and the Freshwater affair also told us what happens when these loons find themselves faced with a choice between what they conceive of as God’s demands and stumping up real money. They’ll do what the DI did in Dover, ie, bail out like Hop Harrigan. The proximate fruitloops will face the music alone, and the support of their religious brethren will be limited to words.

    When it all goes down, some moron is going to quote Romans 13:1, amid mutters of “Come, Lord Jesus!”, and they’ll go back to scheming ways of forcing their religion on other people without actually breaking the law. Which is impossible, but they don’t believe it.

    They’ll try practically the same thing all over again, because they can’t learn. The endless game of whack-a-mole will continue.

  2. Vulcanthunder

    A parent would only have a chance in federal court because the schools, school boards, local governments and the legislature are loaded with creationists. Not to mention the governor and many local and state judges are creationists. We knew a couple that fought the school board for years because they allowed teachers to teach creation. They got death threats and eventually left the state.

  3. Dave Luckett

    I take it – I speak under correction – that since the essential element of a complaint against creationism being taught in the public schools is that the complainant’s Constitutional rights have been violated by the establishment of a religion, the court with jurisdiction would be the Federal Court? As at Dover, PA?

  4. docbill1351

    The LSEA is a “Dover Trap.” It offers “protections” that aren’t there. Any district that gets sued in federal court will go down just like Dover.

    Totally sad that the La. Lege. would set-up districts for such liability, and so sad that administrators are so totally ignorant of the law.

  5. Isn’t there a maxim among lawyers about settling out of court, because one never knows what a court is doing to do?
    There are now some Supreme Court Justices will rule in favor of creationism. Who knows what we are going to have on the Supreme Court in a couple of years?

  6. TomS:

    Isn’t there a maxim among lawyers about settling out of court

    Well, yes and no. “Hard cases make bad law” is one such maxim. But given Zack’s evidence, this doesn’t seem like a hard case under existing precedence. It might be feared that, with the present SCOTUS that the existing precedence might be overturned … but if you fear your constitutional rights are in danger in SCOTUS to the point you don’t try to enforce them, then they don’t exist already.

    No, if a plaintiff with “standing” can be found, then go full bore … if the school board wants to settle, well fine. If not, peddle to the metal!

  7. If the Discovery Institute were honest and sincere in its claims about its ‘Academic Freedom’ bills–which they claim do not enable the teaching of Creationism in public schools–they would be even more zealous than Zack in exposing these instances of malpractise in Louisiana and shutting them down lest they discredit the DI’s legislative lobbyng.

    But of course, the only honest Discoveroids that might exist all wear evil-Spock-goatees and can only be reached via a broken transporter…

  8. What can I say, American Exceptionalism is alive and well in Louisiana! Now if we can just get one Muslim parent in the bayou to demand that Sharia law to be taught in class maybe then we can put an end to this religious child abuse!

  9. Well people from Louisiana are lucking I do not have a science based business cuz their chances of getting a job there would be close to zero. I would insist they had PROPER education in REAL science, not the crap they hear from con artists on sundays

  10. What would you do if you had kids in school and you just learned that your employer was transferring you to Louisiana?

  11. …bail out like Hop Harrigan.

    Wow. Yet another government bail-out.

    (More seriously, I’ve not thought of Hop Harrigan since Eisenhower chewed out my boss over an OWI “disagreement” and a Hop adventure provided Ike with a colorful play on words. Glad to hear that I’m not the only dinosaur still roaming the earth.)

  12. What would you do if you had kids in school…

    I’d refuse the DNA test and insist that I never even met the woman. At my age I just don’t need the stress and a surprise of that magnitude could give me a stroke.

  13. michaelfugate

    It is going to take some brave parents to challenge; the majority won’t be happy if it is. One does wonder what the remainder of this teacher’s course is like – just read the book and answer the questions at the end of the chapter?

  14. Diogenes' Lamp

    Shawna Creamer, a science teacher at Airline High School, sent an email to the principal, Jason Rowland, informing him of which class periods she would use to teach creationism. “We will read in Genesis and them [sic] some supplemental material debunking various aspects of evolution from which the students will present,” Creamer wrote.

    As I have said before, no teacher in a US public school has ever taught the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. In every case we know of, no creationist teacher has ever presented evidence FOR evolution. They always present only “weaknesses” of evolution (and these based on falsehoods, like ‘no transitional fossils’) and then falsely claim these are the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution.”

  15. Brave parents??? In Louisiana the parents have nothing much to fear, but their kids will be bullied to the extreme. So they need brave strong kids!!!
    Also they need strong brave TEACHERS as they can be fired!!

  16. michaelfugate said: “It is going to take some brave parents to challenge; the majority won’t be happy if it is.”
    This. A thousand times this. This is the problem. I realize we have fond memories of Kitzmiller, but people need to remember the crap that went on both before and during the trial. The Nova documentary of Kitzmiller implicated one of the people behind the “Pandas and People” debacle as also being one of the people who tore down the student’s mural depicting evolution, then burned it. There are plenty of people of that rat bastard’s ilk who will give anyone, parents and students both, a hell of a time if they insist on taking Louisiana to task for teaching creationism. The surprising thing to me was the number of people in the Kitzmiller case who jumped on Kitzmiller’s side and were named in the suit.

  17. Warren Johnson

    A question to our Sensuous host, and all his fans with long memories: what other kinds of campaigns against anti-scientism have you seen or heard of? How did they fare? Zack has very courageously pursued the “repeal a bad law” campaign, and Dover was a “sue the bastards” campaign. What other possibilities are there? You are a creative bunch, give us some new ideas.

    signed – “desperate in Louisiana”

  18. @desperate: One possible method that will get you to Outcome #1 you address above (“repeal a bad law”) is to have some non-Christian come in and use the law to teach their version of creationism. For example, let someone come in and teach about Wulbari and we’ll see just how much people enjoy that “Science Education Act”. Something tells me that they’ll say, “Hey, waaaaaaaait a minute!” Once it dawns on them that the act is being used for some non-Christian teaching (which is precisely what they did NOT want to happen), they’ll either repeal it or (more likely) threaten the person or persons using it in this unintended way and drive them away. Either way, you’ll get even more of the publicity that the “creators” of this act didn’t want. Which will lead (hopefully) to Outcome #1.

  19. Diogenes' Lamp

    Gary: teach the kids the Nation of Islam’s creation myth. Black race created by God, white race created by evil “bighead scientist” Dr. Yacoub who grafts animal souls onto human bodies, making Caucasians. That’ll go over well in Louisiana.

  20. So does this mean anyone can go into any church they want on sunday and present solid evidence about all the stuff in the bible that isn’t true?