Americans United calls for "monkey bill" veto


Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling on Governor Bill Haslam to veto House Bill 368, according to a post on the organization's Wall of Separation blog (April 5, 2012). If enacted, HB 368 would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that arouse "debate and disputation" such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." The bill passed the Tennessee legislature and is now on the governor's desk.

In the letter, posted on the Nashville Tennessean's politics blog (April 5, 2012), Americans United's Amanda Rolat warned, "HB 368 invites discussion of religion, veiled by the term 'controversial issues,' into the science classroom," arguing, "The strategy in this bill is a common attempt to skirt the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on the teaching of creationism in public schools. ... Thus, when there is a challenge, either to the law itself or to its implementation, it will likely be struck down after costly litigation."

Rolat added, "HB 368 does not even purport to improve science education — it practically acknowledges that its purpose is to discredit scientific theories. HB 368, in fact, significantly changes Tennessee's science curriculum — it calls into question the veracity of the entire discipline. Arguments that students should learn about 'scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories' are unwarranted based on the overwhelming evidence that supports such theories ... and will only harm students' education."