Antiscience bill dies in Alabama

06.05.2015

Alabama's House Bill 592 (PDF) died in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives on June 4, 2015, when the legislative session ended. The bill would have encouraged teachers and students to "debate the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution in public schools across Alabama," reported the Anniston Star (May 7, 2015).

As NCSE previously reported, the bill identified "biological evolution, the chemical orgins of life, and human cloning" as topics likely to "cause debate and disputation," and in effect would have allowed teachers to present whatever they pleased about such topics — while preventing educational authorities from intervening.

But judging from a statement of the bill's lead sponsor, Mack Butler (R-District 30), evolution was the primary target of HB 592. Raw Story (May 7, 2015) noted that Butler explained on his Facebook page that his bill would "encourage debate if a student has a problem learning he came from a monkey rather than an intelligent design!"

A columnist for the Montgomery Advertiser (May 8, 2015) argued, "The goal of Butler's bill ... was to make it OK for some two-bit religious zealot posing as a biology teacher to fill kids' heads with debunked and ridiculous ideas. ... [T]his bill, should it pass, will open the door to giving religious ideas the same standing in a classroom as scientific theory."

Alabama's House Bill 592 was the most recent antiscience bill introduced in a state legislature in 2015, following Indiana's Senate Bill 562, Iowa's House File 272, Missouri's House Bill 486, Montana's House Bill 321, Oklahoma's Senate Bill 665, and South Dakota's Senate Bill 114. All seven bills are now dead.