More Creationist Madness in Arizona

The last time we wrote about this situation was three weeks ago: Arizona Education Election — What Happened? Arizona’s current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, a flaming creationist, was in a contested primary election — and she was defeated by Frank Riggs, who was also reported to be a creationist. Riggs will face Democrat Kathy Hoffman in the general election.

Meanwhile, Diane is still in office and still making headlines — like this one: Douglas’ Office Defends Creationist on Panel: Christianity Not a ‘Fringe View’. It appears in the Phoenix New Times of Phoenix, Arizona, the state capital. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Diane Douglas’ office is defending her decision to appoint a young-earth creationist to help review and change state education standards on evolution. [L]ast week, Douglas, the Arizona superintendent, tapped Arizona Origin Science Association President Joseph Kezele, who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible’s Genesis narrative, for an August 30 working group that finalized the evolution science standards.

Brilliant choice, Kathy! The newspaper says:

[T]he superintendent’s chief of staff, Michael Bradley, said, “We wanted to include a wide variety of views so that we’d get the best product possible.” [Hee hee!] When asked whether it was right to give a role at the Department of Education to a person with fringe views, Bradley argued that Kezele represents a religious constituency. “We wouldn’t consider Christianity a fringe view,” Bradley said. He added that Christian religious beliefs are widely held by a broad segment of Americans.

What’s wrong with that? The news story goes on:

Kezele, a biology instructor at Arizona Christian University [Ooooooooooooh!], says that scientific evidence supports his beliefs that the planet is just 6,000 years old and that teenage dinosaurs were on board Noah’s Ark.

We don’t need to say anything, do we? Let’s just continue:

During the working group meeting, Kezele convinced the seven other members of the working group to weaken the state evolution standards in at least one instance. They changed a reference to evolution as “the” explanation for the unity and diversity of life to “an” explanation.

Good move! Hey — evolution is just a theory. Let’s read on:

Douglas must now present the science standards for the approval of the State Board of Education. It will be one of the last duties she performs as superintendent before leaving office at the end of December.

We don’t have any information about the views of the State Board. Here’s another excerpt:

As superintendent, Douglas has expressed her belief that creationism and intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in science classrooms. Riggs, in a recent interview, said that he believes evolution to be “proven scientific fact,” and supports teaching it in classrooms.

Huh? That’s not what was reported earlier when we wrote Arizona Education Candidates, Many Creationists. If he’s changed his mind, it’s certainly welcome. A bit more from the news article:

Advocates of science-based education reacted with alarm after Phoenix New Times reported the news of Kezele’s appointment on September 13. “I was astonished,” said Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education.

NCSE wrote about that last week — see Evolution, and now climate change, under attack in Arizona.

The rest of the Phoenix New Times article is about revisions in the standards pertaining to climate change, beginning with:

In the latest draft, several references to climate change in the high school earth and space science standards were deleted.

We’ll let you click over there for that information. And so, dear reader, we leave Arizona. It’s a crazy place now, but after there’s a new Superintendent, things may change. We shall see.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “More Creationist Madness in Arizona

  1. St00pid people trying to keep their kids just as st00pid! Thank science for the infernalnet

  2. ” ‘We wouldn’t consider Christianity a fringe view,’ Bradley said.”

    No, but creationism is. And creationism is NOT Christianity. “Teenage Dinosaurs” on the Ark? Now, THAT’S a fringe view; nowhere to be found in the Bible. Sounds like Ken Ham built his ark in the wrong state.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Kezele: B.A. Russian, M.D., University of Arizona
    No biology?

  4. Article Six of the US Constitution states
    “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
    There is also a similar provision in the Constitution of the State of Arizona, Section 12;
    ” No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment,…”
    That seems pretty clear.
    Appointing someone because of their religion is contrary to the Constitution.

    And, of course, I agree with retiredsciguy. YEC is a religion, but it is not to be equated to Christianity. But whether or not it is, to apply a religious test is not constitutional.

  5. Teenage dinosaurs on the Ark? As if poor Noah and family didn’t have enough to put up with, what with dinosaurs refusing to do their homework and sleeping in ’til all hours of the day.

    Someone should notify Ken, so he can put some unmade beds and dirty socks in the dinosaur stalls, just for that extra authentic Biblical touch.

  6. Kezele, a biology instructor at Arizona Christian University [Ooooooooooooh!], says that scientific evidence supports his beliefs that the planet is just 6,000 years old and that teenage dinosaurs were on board Noah’s Ark.

    I can just see it now: I Was A Teenage Dinosaur, available for download from YouTube.

  7. Teaching creationism & intelligent design is illegal in America. Someone needs to just remind them of that.

  8. SC: “Meanwhile, Kathy [Hoffman] is still in office and still making headlines . . . “

    Dude, you picked the wrong name out of the hat.

    I think you meant to say “Meanwhile, Diane [Douglas] is still in office and still making headlines . . . “

    Please delete this Comment after you verify and make any corrections you deem appropriate.

  9. Thanks, Random. That ol’ devil must have been responsible for the name mix-up. I’ll leave your comment intact as a reminder to all of our fallibility.

  10. @JSJ, it’s only illegal in public schools.

    In a sense, most countries in Europe are ‘better’ off: with some exceptions (in faith schools) creationism is not taught because nobody in their right mind believes that.

  11. In Oz, the problem is not so much faith schools teaching creationism, but the fact that many of them receive taxpayer money, money that could better allocated to cash-strapped public schools.

    The public schools were traditionally more secular-based, but that’s been undermined over time, with things like the introduction of Christian chaplains, many of whom were unqualified volunteers. This was a blatant attempt to evangelize. In fact, the then CEO of Access Ministries, which oversaw the program, was on record as basically saying: We have to Christianize the kids; without Jesus, they’re lost.

    And yes, we’ve had proponents arguing for teaching ID alongside evolution, though I don’t think they’ve made much headway.

  12. David Garcia is running for Governor of Arizona.

  13. In 2014, Garcia, who is the director of the Arizona Education Policy Initiative, ran for state superintendent of public instruction but lost by a single percentage point to Republican Diane Douglas. ‘I was sick and tired of what the legislature was doing to public schools in Arizona,’ Garcia told me about his first run for office. ‘Having been there,’ he said, referring to his work in the state Senate, ‘I understand it’s a very specific concerted effort to cut public education to the bone, criticize it for not improving, and then turning to privatization as the option.’ ”

    PS: continued apologies for the pre-mature launching of comments.