Things are crazier in the Arkansas legislature than we could have imagined. It was only yesterday that we wrote Arkansas Creationism Bill Creeps Forward. The House Education Committee had approved House Bill 1701, sponsored by the freakishly demented Representative Mary Bentley.
We thought it would be a while before there would be more news about her creationist bill, but wow — were we mistaken! In today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette we found this headline: House advances bill to let schools teach creationism. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
A bill to allow public schools to teach intelligent design as a theory of how the Earth came to be gained the approval of the Arkansas House on Wednesday [The whole House!], despite a 1980s court ruling that bars schools from teaching creationism in science classes. House Bill 1701 by Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, was sent to the state Senate on a 72-21 vote.
Aaaargh!! Ninety three people voted, and 72 voted for the thing. That’s 77% of the House of Representatives who voted for creationism. This is truly crazy! Then the newspaper says:
The legislation would apply to kindergarten-through-12th-grade public and charter schools. Bentley [the crazy lady] said permission to teach creation is something she’s had teachers ask her for since she became a lawmaker. [Is that possible?] “Scientists have been on both sides of the issue for thousands of years,” she said, noting that Isaac Newton and Galileo believed in “God and biblical creation.”
Darwin’s first book about evolution wasn’t published until 1859, so neither Newton nor Galileo knew anything about it. Aside from that, Bently probably wouldn’t cite Galileo as evidence for her position if she knew he was convicted of heresy for writing that the Earth orbited the Sun, which is contrary to scripture. Indeed, it’s doubtful that she knows anything about anything.
The newspaper then tells us that Bently mentioned earlier litigation ruling that creationism couldn’t be taught in the public schools. That doesn’t discourage the crazy lady: “Arkansas was really the beginning of not allowing creation to be taught in the classroom, so I thought it was important for us to make this first step,” Bentley said.
The woman is flat-out bonkers. Then the newspaper quotes a sane member of the legislature:
Rep. Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis, brought up the 1982 court decision. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on teaching the theory of evolution in 1968. “Why would we do this when the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that it is illegal to do that?” Ferguson asked.
Good question. But Mary Bentley had an answer:
“We have seen the Supreme Court change their mind 200 times,” Bentley replied, noting that the high court’s makeup has changed since then. She said later that prior to the legislative session, she had discussed the bill with the state attorney general’s office, which was confident such a law could be successfully defended in court. Bentley said HB1701 is different from the previous laws.
Ah, she has a friend in the attorney general’s office. Very slick! The newspaper continues with a bit more back-and-forth between the two legislative ladies:
Ferguson [the sane one] said the bill violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment and could open the door for every religion’s creation story to be taught as science. Bentley [the drooler] said classrooms should be open for debate that includes creation among scientific theories.
Now we wait for the state Senate to make their wishes known. And here’s how the newspaper article ends:
A spokeswoman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday that he had not reviewed the bill.
This story has a long way to go, dear reader, so stay tuned to this blog!
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