What's next for Indiana's creationism bill?


Indiana's Senate Bill 89, passed by the Senate on January 31, 2012, is off to the House of Representatives, and speculations and recommendations about its fate are circulating. As amended by the Senate, the bill would allow local school districts to offer "instruction on various theories of origins of life" which "must include theories from multiple religions" — prompting the Times of Munster (January 31, 2012) to predict, "Hoosier public school students soon may be taught life was created by God, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, the human mind and/or Xenu, dictator of the Galactic Confederacy."

The Times of Munster subsequently reported (February 2, 2012) that the bill "probably will not be voted on by the Republican-controlled House" on the grounds that House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-District 88) "has not made a final determination on whether Senate Bill 89 will get a hearing and vote, but said he believes the General Assembly should not mandate what's taught in science classrooms." So far, the bill has not been assigned to a House committee; it would have to be approved by its committee and by the full House by March 5, 2012, in order to be passed by the legislature.

Newspapers around the state have been critical of the Senate's passage of the bill. The Indianapolis Star (February 1, 2012) described SB 89 as a "toxic mix of religion and science" and called on the state attorney general and the state superintendent of public instruction to speak out against it. The Evanston Courier & Press (February 3, 2012), insisted that "it is clear that those lawmakers attempting to push creationism into the public school biology class want it taught on equal footing with evolution, which is based on scientific research and evidence. Creationism brings no such scientific evidence to the science class."

Why was the bill, which originally would have allowed school districts to require instruction in creation science, amended? A blogger for the Village Voice (February 1, 2012), after interviewing state senator Vi Simpson (D-District 40), who introduced the amendment, explained that it "was a brilliant attempt to sabotage the bill. By adding in other religions (Islam, in Indiana!), her wording would probably make the bill completely unattractive to local school boards, who are under no obligation to follow its suggestion anyway." Simpson added, "My number one intention is to kill the bill or at least kill the effectiveness of it."