By Tim Grimes
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – A bill is headed to the Senate floor that would allow school boards to decide if they want creation science taught in their classrooms.
Senate Bill 89 provoked heated opposition as it was considered in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee Wednesday.
Among those opposed were Purdue University Professor John Staver, David Sklar of the Indiana Coalition for Human Services and the Jewish Community Relations Council and Chuck Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association.
Most of those opposed to the bill said it violated the separation of church and state.
“This would violate both the spirit and the letter of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states Congress shall make no law, respecting establishment of religion. In other words, U.S. government and its agencies should remain neutral on the matter of religion,” said Reba Boyd Wooden, executive director of the Indiana Center for Inquiry.
Others said lawsuits would follow.
Only two committee members – Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and Sen. Timothy Skinner, D-Terre Haute – voted against the measure. Another, Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he wanted the bill written differently, but voted yes.
Skinner, who was a social studies teacher before becoming a legislator, stressed that, while the bill was well-meaning, the implications of the bill might make teachers anxious.
“I think instructors want to stay within the boundaries of the expectations of the Constitution and those seem to be changing. We seem to be expanding the interpretation, but it doesn’t change the fact that schools are still leery of how to do this. They don’t want to violate the Constitution.”
The committee approved the bill, 8-2.
Tim Grimes is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.