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Antievolution legislation threatened in Utah yet again


Utah state senator Chris Buttars is at it again. Over the summer, he threatened to introduce legislation calling for "divine design" to be taught in Utah's public schools, then withdrew the threat after talking to the state superintendent of education, and then reinstated it in response to the adoption of a firm position statement on the teaching of evoution by the state board of education. In a November 15, 2005, post on the Utah senate majority's blog, Buttars wrote, "I'm asked on an ongoing basis if I plan to introduce a bill concerning the Utah State Board of Education's position on teaching evolution. The answer to that question is yes. I've opened a bill file and I'm currently working on the language. The bill text is not yet public and will remain private until I'm satisfied that 1) the intent of the bill is clear, 2) how it will be administered is also clear, and 3) it can withstand a court challenge."

Subsequently, the Deseret Morning News (November 17, 2005) reported that the bill is to be unveiled at the annual meeting of the Utah Eagle Forum, days before the Utah legislature convenes. Buttars was cagey about its exact content, telling the newspaper, "I have it 'confidential'" -- that is, shielded from public view -- "and it's 'prioritized.' That means it will be heard," but declining to say whether it would require the teaching of "intelligent design." Explaining that the bill's purpose was to challenge the state board of education's position on evolution, Buttars said that it might require the school board to revise its statement or require teachers to read a disclaimer about evolution: "We've got two or three different [things] we're looking at right now." Utahns concerned about the threatened legislation are encouraged to get in touch with Duane Jeffrey, a professor of biology at Brigham Young University and a member of NCSE's board of directors, at duane_jeffery@byu.edu.