Kentucky Creationism Bill for 2017

You remember the weird creationism bills pending in the Florida legislature that we recently wrote about in Florida Bills Allow Religion in Public Schools? Well, now there’s a similar bill in Kentucky.

We learned about this from the website of WUKY, a radio station run by the University of Kentucky, but it’s also part of National Public Radio. Their headline is Ky. Senator: Christians Are Ones ‘Being Persecuted’ In Schools . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The Kentucky Senate signed off Friday on a bill designed to clarify and defend students’ right to voluntarily express religious and political beliefs at public schools and universities, but detractors only anticipate more confusion.

The Republican-led chamber overwhelmingly favored Senate Bill 17, which asserts the right of students to voice religious and political viewpoints in school assignments, on clothing, in extracurricular groups after school, and as part of artistic or theatrical performances. Under the bill, teachers using the Bible to teach classes on religion or U.S. history would be protected, as long as they don’t “provide religious instruction.”

Here’s the text of Senate Bill 17. Among other things, it allows students to:

Express religious or political viewpoints in classroom, homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination or penalty based on the religious or political content of the submissions.

Isn’t that great? The kiddies can fill their homework with all the neat science they learned at Hambo’s Creation Museum. Then WUKY says:

Bill sponsor Albert Robinson says the measure only rewords and codifies protections already present in the state Constitution, but maintains it’s necessary to help protect schools like W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County. The school removed scriptural references from a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2015 over worries about their legality, sparking public backlash and protest. The London lawmaker argues that Christians are walking on eggshells in schools.

Here’s the legislature’s page for Senator Albert Robinson. The biographical information says only: “Born December 19, 1938. Self employed. Pentecostal. 33 degree Mason. Knoxville Scottish Rite.”

Back to the radio station, which tells us:

Though Robinson maintains the new language will provide clearer guidelines for students and schools, Kate Miller with American Civil Liberties Union predicts the bill will only muddy the waters. “Senate Bill 17 doesn’t do anything to enhance those rights, but will likely instead create confusion about what is constitutionally permissible in the classroom and it will invite legal challenges about the manner in which it’s implemented,” she says.

If the thing becomes law and gets litigated, this next excerpt from the radio station might be interesting evidence of legislative intent:

Asked if the bill might provide legal grounds for students to challenge answers on tests – for example, a creationist student who disagrees with a science teacher about the age of the earth – Robinson said the student should be free to repeat what was learned in class while appending his or her opinion without fear of reprisal.

“What I would do if I was answering, I’d say, ‘Well, according to my beliefs it’s 6,000 [years old], but according to what you say it’s more,'” the lawmaker told WUKY. “You still answered a question and it would be retaliation if they were to say you’ve got to believe what I believe and you can’t believe what you believe.” But Robinson adds, “A teacher, if they had respect, they would go ahead and respect and admire a student who thought for themselves.”

Obviously, Robinson is a young-Earth creationist. But you already guessed that, didn’t you? One more excerpt:

Similar bills received the stamp of approval in the GOP-led upper chamber during previous sessions, only to falter in the Democratic House. With Republicans’ total control of the legislature in 2017, SB17 is likely to find a more receptive audience on the opposite end of the Capitol.

Use this link to follow the status and history of Senate Bill 17. The Kentucky legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 30 March, so there’s time for this bill to become law. With Florida considering similar legislation, bills like this could become a trend. We’ll be watching.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Kentucky Creationism Bill for 2017

  1. There seems to be a lot of parking space out Kentucky way these days:

  2. Robinson seems to think that if a student believes 2+2= 5, the student’s wrong belief may not be corrected. Or if the student believes the earth is flat. Or, or, or…

  3. So they are embedding into state law that religious belief is equivalent to scientifically documented evidence.

    But of course it isn’t just any religious belief they have in mind. I’m sure some of the Old Man Coyote stories would not be accorded the favored treatment that Genesis stories would be.

    How about this one? (Hope the formatting is correct)

    The Creation of Men and Women

    When the world was finished, there were as yet no people, but the Bald Eagle was chief of the animals. He saw that the world was incomplete and decided to make some human beings. So he took some clay and modeled the figure of a man and laid him on the ground. At first he was very small but he grew rapidly until he reached normal size. But as yet he had no life; he was still asleep. Then the Bald Eagle stood and admired his work. “It is impossible,” he said, “that he should be left alone; he must have a mate.” So he pulled out a feather and laid it beside the sleeping man. Then he left them and went off a short distance, for he knew that a woman was being formed from the feather. But the man was still asleep and did not know what was happening. When the Bald Eagle decided that the woman was about completed, he returned, awoke the man by flapping his wings over him and flew away.

    The man opened his eyes and stared at the woman. “What does this mean?” he asked. “I thought I was alone!” Then the Bald Eagle returned and said with a smile, “I see you have a mate! Have you had intercourse with her?” “No,” replied he man, for he and the woman knew nothing about each other. Then the Bald Eagle called to Coyote who happened to be going by and said to him, “Do you see that woman? Try her first!” Coyote was quite willing and complied, but immediately afterwards lay down and died. The Bald Eagle went away and left Coyote dead, but presently returned and revived him. “How did it work?” said the Bald Eagle. “Pretty well, but it nearly kills a man!” replied Coyote. “Will you try it again?” said the Bald Eagle. Coyote agreed, and tried again, and this time survived. Then the Bald Eagle turned to the man and said, “She is all right now; you and she are to live together.
    California Indian creation story

  4. ‘Asked if the bill might provide legal grounds for students to challenge answers on tests – for example, a creationist student who disagrees with a science teacher about the age of the earth – Robinson said the student should be free to repeat what was learned in class while appending his or her opinion without fear of reprisal.’

    Robinson is quite right. But aren’t they anyway? I often said problems involving radiometric dating. If a student had appended to a correct answer the statement that they didn’t believe it, that would have made no difference. If I had penalised them for such a statement, they would have had the right to protest the unfairness of my grading. If they appended to their answer a statement of alleged deficiencies in the method, I would ignore it. If they claimed extra credit for such a statement, I would point out that it was scientifically unsound. If, however, they claimed that the statement was religious and sought the protection of this bill, they could not claim scientific credit for it. If they regurgitated nonscientific nonsense, I would ignore it while grading and I imagine that few professors would do otherwise. The bill would change none of this.

    So the way to attack this bill might be to ask upfront, what conceivable difference it would make to anything.

  5. Nice to see Christians taking their country back. We non-Christians–especially Jews, Muslims, and atheists–need to shut up and just be glad they are willing to let us sit at the table.

  6. Why do Republicans embarrass themselves this way? In the good ol’ days of the Monkey Trial, it was Democrats (particularly in the South but elsewhere as well) who were the party of ignoramuses. Now the Grand Old Party has chosen to remake itself as God’s Own Party, and in the process, in my opinion, is heading toward a cliff edge.

  7. Eric Lipps asks: “Why do Republicans embarrass themselves this way?”

    You’re correct, but both parties have changed. The Dems aren’t John Kennedy’s party any more. Now they’re dominated by people like Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, etc. Everyone who doesn’t like what they advocate is in the GOP.

  8. These states such as Kentucky insist on raising their children to be morons. And then they wonder why manufacturing jobs, which today require intelligence and thought, are going elsewhere.