Antiscience legislation in Indiana

01.19.2015

Indiana's Senate Bill 562, introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Education & Career Development on January 20, 2015, is the second antiscience bill of the year, following Missouri's House Bill 486.

SB 562 would require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers in finding effective ways to present the curriculum" where it addresses scientific controversies and to permit teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented"; it would prevent such authorities from "prohibit[ing] a teacher in a public school from helping students to understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing conclusions and theories being presented." A further section of SB 562 attempts to immunize it against constitutional scrutiny, insisting that the bill "may not be construed to promote ... any religious or nonreligious doctrine."

The only topic mentioned in the bill as controversial is human cloning, which frequently appears alongside biological evolution and climate change in such bills; SB 562 is, however, apparently the first such bill to mention only human cloning.

The bill's sponsors are Jeff Raatz (R-District 27) and Dennis Kruse (R-District 14). Kruse, as it happens, has a long history of sponsoring antievolution legislation. In 1999, while serving in the Indiana House of Representatives, Kruse pledged to introduce a law to remove evolution from the state's science standards, according to the South Bend Tribune (August 27, 1999). Instead, however, he introduced bills that would permit local school districts to require the teaching of creation science — House Bill 1356 in 2000 and House Bill 1323 in 2001. Both bills died in committee. In the Senate, Kruse introduced a similar bill — Senate Bill 89 in 2012 — which passed the Senate, but only after it was amended to require the inclusion of "theories from multiple religions, which may include ... Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology." SB 89 subsequently died in the House.

In late 2012, Kruse told the Lafayette Journal and Courier (November 10, 2012) that he would introduce a bill drafted by the Discovery Institute in the legislature in 2013, but he failed to do so. Now SB 562 appears to fulfill his vow.