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Mississippi disclaimer bill dead

Mississippi's House Bill 25, which would have mandated the state board of education to require every textbook that discusses evolution to include a disclaimer describing evolution as "a controversial theory," died in committee on February 3, 2009, according to the state's legislative website. At present, the only state to require a textbook disclaimer about evolution is Alabama, which is currently using a disclaimer adopted in 2005. The proposed Mississippi disclaimer was evidently a hybrid of two previous versions of the Alabama disclaimer: its first paragraph is modeled on the first paragraph of the second version (adopted in 2001), while much of the remainder is modeled on the first version (adopted in 1995).

Speaking to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (2009 Jan 24), the bill's sponsor, Gary Chism (R-District 37), was candid about his motivations, explaining, "Either you believe in the Genesis story, or you believe that a fish walked on the ground," adding, "All these molecules didn't come into existence by themselves." But he was pessimistic about the prospects of the bill, telling the conservative Christian on-line news source OneNewsNow (2009 Jan 26), "I am confident that this bill is ... dead on arrival ... I don't think the [committee] chairman will even take the bill up." Yet he also told OneNewsNow that "he would consider drafting another bill next year supporting the teaching of the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in public school classrooms."