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Update from Missouri

The chief sponsor of Missouri's House Bill 1227, which if enacted would require "intelligent design" to be taught alongside evolution, offered a revealing explanation to the Kansas City Star (January 14, 2012). Rick Brattin (R-District 124) told the newspaper that his bill was not about religion. But he was also quoted as saying, "I keep pointing to a Gallup poll that shows 90 percent of Americans believe in a higher power. ... And yet our schools only teach that we emerged from primordial ooze. I think students should get both sides of the issue and get to come to their own conclusions."

Defending his bill, Brattin said, "The jury is still out on evolution." NCSE's Joshua Rosenau countered, "The science of evolution is not in dispute," and Francis Eberle, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, agreed, adding, "There is no evidence to support intelligent design." Rosenau explained that the "intelligent design" movement emerged in order to circumvent the 1987 Supreme Court ruling that teaching creationism in the public schools is unconstitutional — but failed in its first attempt to do so in the 2005 case Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Brattin, nevertheless, was undaunted; the Star reported that "he will discuss his legislation with Republican House leadership this week with the hope of getting a committee hearing scheduled. He remains optimistic about the bill’s chances." Previous versions of the bill introduced in 2004 — HB 911 and HB 1722 — died when the legislative session ended. HB 911 was drafted by a group calling itself Missourians for Excellence in Science Education, headed by Joe White, a member of the Missouri Association for Creation, according to the St. Louis Dispatch (March 4, 2004).