Idaho Creationism: New Bill for 2016

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) just posted Bible-as-science-reference bill in Idaho. They say:

Idaho’s Senate Bill 1321 (PDF), introduced on February 12, 2016, and referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs, would, if enacted, permit the use of the Bible in Idaho’s public schools “for reference purposes to further the study of” a variety of topics, including “astronomy, biology, [and] geology.”

Lordy, lordy. Your Curmudgeon has written about many creationist bills, although never one in Idaho. That state’s debut is a beaut — it certainly ranks up there with the best of them (“best” being a term that, in this context, depends on the observer’s sanity). NCSE also tells us:

The bill resembles a resolution (PDF, p. 4) adopted by the Idaho Republican Party in the summer of 2015. The executive director of the party told KBPO television (June 10, 2015), “if there is a school district that thinks having the Bible as part of the curriculum would be useful, this resolution is basically saying, ‘we support the idea of allowing them to have that tool in their tool box.'”

It’s always good to have a bible in one’s tool box. Let’s take a look at the operative parts of the new bill. It’s not very long. We’ll add some bold font where we think it’s appropriate:

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

SECTION 1. That Section 33-1604 , Idaho Code, be, and the same is, hereby repealed.

SECTION 2. That Chapter 16, Title 33, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and designated as Section 33-1604, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:

33-1604. USE OF THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, United States and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant. No student will be required to use any religious texts for reference purposes if the student or parents of the student object.

This is the currently existing law, which the new bill would repeal:

33-1604. Bible reading in public schools. Selections from the Bible, to be chosen from a list prepared from time to time by the state board of education, shall be read daily to each occupied classroom in each school district. Such reading shall be without comment or interpretation. Any question by any pupil shall be referred for answer to the pupil’s parent or guardian.

We took a look at the Idaho Constitution, to see if there might be something relevant. Article I, Declaration of Rights, says, in Section 4. Guaranty of religious liberty:

… No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination, or pay tithes against his consent; nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship. …

That looks good enough to block the public schools from teaching biblical astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology. Also, ARTICLE IX, Education and School Lands, says:

Section 6. Religious test and teaching in school prohibited. No religious test or qualification shall ever be required of any person as a condition of admission into any public educational institution of the state, either as teacher or student; and no teacher or student of any such institution shall ever be required to attend or participate in any religious service whatever. No sectarian or religious tenets or doctrines shall ever be taught in the public schools, nor shall any distinction or classification of pupils be made on account of race or color. No books, papers, tracts or documents of a political, sectarian or denominational character shall be used or introduced in any schools established under the provisions of this article, nor shall any teacher or any district receive any of the public school moneys in which the schools have not been taught in accordance with the provisions of this article.

Excellent! It appears that Idaho is one of 37 (or maybe 38) states to have enacted a version of the Blaine Amendment. According to the clear words of the Idaho Constitution, the bill being proposed is as dead as King Tut — but if the thing passes and becomes law, a judge will have to be the one to say so.

You can follow the progress of the bill here: Senate Bill 1321. Nothing’s happened yet except that it was introduced on 12 February 2016 and referred to the Senate’s State Affairs Committee on 15 February 2016.

There’s no indication of who the bill’s sponsors are, but NCSE says it was proposed by Sheryl Nuxoll. Here’s her page at the legislature’s website. It says she’s a “housewife, mother, co-manager of farm/ranch; business degree, Gonzaga University; held a CPA license until 1988.” We never heard of Gonzaga University, but Wikipedia says it’s “a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington.”

The Idaho legislature convened on 11 January, and they’re scheduled to adjourn in “early April.” We’ll be watching.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Idaho Creationism: New Bill for 2016

  1. Gonzaga U, Curmie! You’re slipping on your Tooter Lore!

    Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University School of Law published one or more “reviews” of the Kitzmiller trial with none other than the former Attack Gerbil.

    The Tooters and Gonzaga are like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, except it’s Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber.

    Let’s just say that Gonzaga U. degrees are printed by Charmin.

  2. If you use Google, you will find severall sites which doubt the existence of Idaho, and it is nothing less than being closed-minded for the Idaho legislature to refuse to allow that being openly discussed in the schools.
    I must also point out that the Bible does not mention Idaho.

  3. “I must also point out that the Bible does not mention Idaho.”
    That’s next on the Idaho legislature’s agenda, to amend the bible to include Idaho.

  4. I am sure she left a few things off the list – medicine? diet? marriage? role of women? slavery? animal sacrifice?

  5. It takes a bizarre understanding of the world to think the bible has much to say about most of the topics listed. For example, “…foreign languages”. Do you suppose any high school in Idaho will have courses in Aramaic? “United states and world history”. Last time I checked (admittedly a long time ago) , the bible had nothing about US history. And “astronomy, biology, geology…” about which the bible has nothing important or useful. I don’t even recall anything in the bible that would be useful for potatoes.

  6. michaelfugate

    Tower of Babel – it explains languages….

  7. I keep a bible in my toolbox. Good information on nails.

  8. The staffer/sponsor that wrote this list must have given the subjects that order on purpose because it starts out kinda strong. They must have counted on their reader checking out after about the first three and hid the sinister ones at the end.

    Literature: Ok.

    Comparative religion: If taught as actual comparative religion in a religion course, ok.

    English and foreign languages: The Bible’s influence on English and American literature, ok. Foreign languages is questionable.

    United States and world history: It’s starting to get murky. But if taught critically by a competent teacher, I’d give it a very qualified ok. Very limited application at a public school level, however.

    Comparative government: Murkier. Monarchies? Empires? Tribal government?

    Law: Mud. No shellfish? No mixing of fabrics? The ten most important commandments fail to mention rape? But idols are prohibited?

    Philosophy: Rock bottom. Maybe a sliver in Ecclesiastes. None else to speak of.

    Ethics: Taking a few strides toward the surface, but very questionable as to the actual utility here. The golden rule, ok. Critical/ comparative examination of divine command theory of ethics, but again, not much application at that level.

    Astronomy: We’ve slid off the edge of the flat earth here.

    Biology: See above.

    Geology: See above.

    World geography: What?

    Archaeology: No.

    Music: What?

    Sociology: Anything with a secular purpose here would be at the collegiate level.

    I think this is kinda like a poor man’s version of an “Academic Freedom” bill.

  9. Reflectory says: “Astronomy: We’ve slid off the edge of the flat earth here.”

    Nonsense! Bible astronomy is very good stuff. There’s the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. No solar system. Everything else is lights attached to the firmament, which rotates around the Earth. And nothing is more than 6,000 light years away from us.

  10. Perhaps, to be fair, they should amend the bill to include the Koran, the Book of Mormon (it’s Idaho!), some appropriate Vedas, and so on. All equally valid as reference works.

  11. My understanding is that Luther’s German translation of the Bible was very influential in shaping modern standard German.

  12. Stephen Kennedy

    Astronomy! Even by the standards of ancient civilizations the bible is useless. Most ancient civilizations knew that the planets were not stars, that the Moon did not generate its own light but instead only reflected light from the Sun and that the stars, planets, Sun and Moon were not all at the same distance from the Earth.

  13. The Bible mentions nothing about bicameral state legislatures or Senate education subcommittees.

  14. Last time I checked (admittedly a long time ago), the bible had nothing about US history. And “astronomy, biology, geology…” about which the bible has nothing important or useful.

    You’d be surprised how many people believe the Bible does mention America—even by name, albeit in code—along with modern Israel, complete with the name of at least one of its prime ministers. (See The Bible Code and other such dreck, I mean books. No, I mean dreck.)

    As for the rest, this website wouldn’t exist if there weren’t millions of suckers, um, that is, faithful Christians who think the Bible is the final authority on those subjects as well.

  15. I wonder what proof text they rely on to tell them that the Bible speaks of such things as America.
    And what answer they have to one who finds a different secret message in the Bible. Has anyone found “Big Bang” or “billions and billions” in the Bible?