Dueling legislation in Scotland

01.30.2015

Flag-map of Scotland via Wikimedia Commons

As a result of a controversy over creationist encroachments in the public schools in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, and a petition to the Scottish parliament to ban the teaching of creationism as scientifically credible, there are now dueling motions about creationism in the Scottish parliament.

Motion S4M-12148, lodged on January 23, 2015 and entitled "Crackdown against Creationism," "congratulates South Lanarkshire Council on taking decisive action to prevent the teaching of creationism in schools by introducing new guidance; condemns any promotion of creationism in publicly funded schools, including the reported distribution of creationist books at Kirktonholme Primary School; believes that creationism should not be presented as a scientific theory and viable alternative to the established theory of evolution, and supports the Society of Biology and the Scottish Secular Society position in opposing the teaching of creationism in the classroom."

The "decisive action" to which the motion refers was the adoption of what the Glasgow Herald (January 23, 2015) described as "a raft of new rules for non-denominational schools including criminal records checks for chaplains and the insistence that teachers should be present during visits by religious groups" as well as "guidance to ensure homophobic or creationist teaching is barred." The new rules were adopted after it was discovered in 2013 that young-earth creationist material — books published by Apologetics Press entitled How Do You Know God is Real? and Exposing the Myth of Evolution — was distributed to students at Kirtonholme Primary School.

Motion S4M-12149, lodged on January 23, 2015 and entitled "Creation and Evolution," notes South Lanarkshire Council's action without comment, adding, unobjectionably, "some people believe that God created the world in six days, some people believe that God created the world over a longer period of time[,] and some people believe that the world came about without anyone creating it." But the motion further expresses the view "that none of these positions can be proved or disproved by science and all are valid beliefs for people to hold." John Mason, who lodged the motion, told the Glasgow Herald (January 23, 2015) that his motion was a response to the "Crackdown against Creationism" motion.

In addition to S4M-12148 and S4M-12149, the Scottish parliament may find itself contemplating the issue owing to the Scottish Secular Society's petition to ban the teaching of creationism in the public schools, which was recently forwarded to the Education and Culture Committee.