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Creationist restraint in Kentucky

The new chair of the Kentucky Senate Standing Committee on Education "has no intention of using his new role to help push his personal belief in creationism into the curriculum of public schools," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 12, 2012). Mike Wilson (R-District 32) was among the state legislators who, in August 2012, expressed concern about the presence of evolution in the state science standards and associated end-of-course testing, as NCSE previously reported. According to the Courier-Journal, Wilson then said, "My concern is that our students are indoctrinated into one way of thinking without allowing them to have intellectual freedom," adding, "And that really bothers me."

His remarks were remembered when he was recently appointed to chair the committee. The Courier-Journal (December 13, 2012) editorialized, "Religious ideology has no place in public education. Sen. Wilson needs to park his personal beliefs outside the committee room if he truly wants to use his new chairmanship to make a difference in Kentucky." Apparently in agreement, Wilson told the Courier-Journal that although he believes in creationism, he is not interested in pursuing the issue in his new role in the Senate. He explained, "Number one, I don't think there’s sufficient support for it within the General Assembly. Number two, I don't think that's the most important thing by any means that we need to be focused on right now."

Previous legislative activity aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution in Kentucky's public schools includes House Bill 169 in 2011 and House Bill 397 in 2010, both based on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act; both bills died in committee. Kentucky is apparently unique in having a statute (PDF; Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.177) on the books that authorizes teachers to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." Yet the Louisville Courier-Journal (January 11, 2006) reported that in a November 2005 survey of the state's 176 school districts, none was teaching or discussing "intelligent design."