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Louisiana antievolution bill passes Senate


Senate Bill 733 (PDF), the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, was unanimously passed by the Louisiana Senate on April 28, 2008. If enacted, the bill would call upon the state board of elementary and secondary education to "allow and assist" teachers and administrators to "create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." Included would be "support and guidance for teachers regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review [the] scientific theories being studied"; teachers would be permitted to use "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board."

Previously, in the Senate's Education Committee, the bill was renumbered (from SB 561), renamed, and revised, with the removal of "strengths and weaknesses" language and a list of specific scientific topics, "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." The executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, the religious right group that convinced state senator Ben Nevers (D-District 12) to introduce the bill in the first place, expressed disappointment at the revisions, telling the Baton Rouge Advocate (April 20, 2008) that his support of it was now only lukewarm, even though Nevers told the newspaper, "It didn't change the intent of the bill." But the Associated Press (April 29, 2008) reported that Nevers restored the list, saying that without it the bill was too vague. Speaking earlier to the Hammond Daily Star (April 6, 2008), Nevers was anything but vague about the bill, in effect acknowledging that its purpose is to ensure that "scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory."