Barbara Forrest's warning to Pennsylvania



Writing in the Erie, Pennsylvania, Times-News (September 18, 2013), Barbara Forrest warned Pennsylvanians about the threatened antiscience bill in their state. As NCSE previously reported, in August 2013, Stephen Bloom (R-District 199) was circulating a memo seeking cosponsors for a proposed bill resembling the antiscience bill enacted in Tennessee in 2012.

Reminding her readers about the 2005 trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover, establishing that the teaching of "intelligent design" in the public schools is unconstitutional, Forrest observed that the Discovery Institute's reaction was to announce its "new front in the debate over intelligent design — the need to protect academic freedom."

She continued, "With intelligent design exposed as creationism in court, the Discovery Institute now conceals its true aims behind the sanitized code language of 'academic freedom' legislation, seeking to undermine the teaching of evolution under the guise of 'critical thinking.' But the Discovery Institute's 'new front' is a shopworn creationist tactic."

Forrest argued that Bloom's bill pursues the goal of promoting "intelligent design" creationism: "Pennsylvanians shouldn't be fooled: Bloom is pushing a stealth intelligent design creationism bill, pure and simple, and the Discovery Institute plans to exploit Pennsylvania's legislative process the same way it exploited Louisiana's and Tennessee's."

So far there is no sign of the bill on the Pennsylvania General Assembly's website, but the legislature is not currently in session. The legislature reconvenes on September 23, 2013. Bloom told Fox 43 television (September 4, 2013) that he recruited seven cosponsors for the bill and hoped to add further cosponsors when the legislature reconvenes.

Barbara Forrest is Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, coauthor (with Paul R. Gross) of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (revised edition, Oxford University Press 2007), and a member of NCSE's board of directors and a recipient of NCSE's Friend of Darwin award; she testified for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover.