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New antievolution legislation


House Bill 179, introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives on January 27, 2005, would require "Whenever any theory of the origin of human beings or other living things is included in a course of study offered by a local unit of administration, factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with evolution theory and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting the theory shall be included in the course of study." NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required) that there is no "factual scientific evidence" inconsistent with evolution: "[t]hese are code words for creationism." The bill also contains a subsection claiming that it is "intended to strengthen the analytical skills of students" and "not intended to authorize or promote the presentation of religious beliefs," apparently attempting to render it constitutional under the purpose prong of the Lemon test.

House Bill 179, introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives on January 27, 2005, would require "Whenever any theory of the origin of human beings or other living things is included in a course of study offered by a local unit of administration, factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with evolution theory and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting the theory shall be included in the course of study." NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required) that there is no "factual scientific evidence" inconsistent with evolution: "[t]hese are code words for creationism." The bill also contains a subsection claiming that it is "intended to strengthen the analytical skills of students" and "not intended to authorize or promote the presentation of religious beliefs," apparently attempting to render it constitutional under the purpose prong of the Lemon test.

The sponsor of the bill, Ben D. Bridges Jr., introduced a similar bill (HB 1133) in 1998, although it lacked any clause describing its intention. The language of HB 179 and 1133, as well as similar bills appearing in Ohio and Arizona, is patterned after a model bill drafted by John Hansen, a Wisconsin schoolteacher who founded Operation TEACHES (the acronym is for Teach Evolution Accurately, Consistently, Honestly, Equitably, Scientifically) and who crisscrossed the country in the late 1990s to urge state legislators to sponsor it. If enacted, HB 179 would become effective on July 1, 2005. The story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicated that the House Republican leadership was unenthusiastic about the bill, however, stating that the bill is not a legislative priority, noting that Bridges is the sole sponsor, and quoting the speaker pro tem of the House as saying that "[e]ach member of our caucus is elected by their district and they have every right to introduce bills they feel their constituents want."


05 LC 9 1573
House Bill 179
By: Representative Bridges of the 10th

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

To amend Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to competencies and core curriculum in elementary and secondary schools, so as to provide for the presentation of certain scientific evidence whenever any theory of the origin of humans or other living things is taught; to provide for legislative intent; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1.
Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to competencies and core curriculum in elementary and secondary schools, is amended by adding at the end thereof a new Code section, to be designated as Code Section 20-2-148, to read as follows:
"20-2-148.
(a) Whenever any theory of the origin of humans or other living things is included in a course of study offered by a local unit of administration, factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with evolution theory and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting the theory shall be included in the course of study.
(b) The method of instruction described in subsection (a) of this Code section is intended to strengthen the analytical skills of students by requiring the presentation of a broad range of scientific evidence regarding theories of the origin of humans and other living things. The requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section are not intended to authorize or promote the presentation of religious beliefs."

SECTION 2.
This Act shall become effective on July 1, 2005.

SECTION 3.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.