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Background on the credit-for-creationism scheme

Alabama's House Bill 133 — which would, if enacted, "authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students" — was introduced at the behest of a former teacher who was "fired in 1980 for reading the Bible and teaching creationism at Spring Garden Elementary School when parents of the public school sixth-grade students objected and he refused to stop," the Birmingham News (February 17, 2012) reports. Now 84, Joseph Kennedy "still has a dream of teaching public school students about creationism," and he and his supporters are poised to offer a course on creationism if the bill passes.

The sponsor of HB 133, Blaine Galliher (R-District 30), told the News that he introduced the bill — which he described elsewhere as a "vehicle" for creationism — at Kennedy's request. Describing his plans to the newspaper, Kennedy explained, "All the school board needs to do is set it up. They can give the students credit. We're going to major on creation science. Since creation involved science, then certainly we can study it. We want to give students good sound scientific reasons to support their faith in the seven-day creation and the young Earth," adding, "The textbook will be 'The Defender Study Bible,' with notes by Henry Morris, author of 'The Genesis Flood,' who started the creationist movement."

Mary Sue McClurkin (R-District 43), who chairs the House Education Policy Committee, told the News that the bill would be debated in committee during the week of February 28, 2012, commenting, "It looks like it's a very viable way to offer some elective courses for kids that have many opportunities for electives." But Thomas Berg, a professor of law formerly at Samford University in Birmingham, expressed doubt about the bill's constitutionality, asking, "Is the religious teacher going to certify that the student passed? Would the school do any review of that? Would they monitor the class for quality to ensure it would warrant a public school credit? All those things would entangle the school."