Louisiana schools open to creationism?

Wednesday, the Louisiana House passed a bill that would allow teachers to promote "critical thinking." Critics say it's just intelligent design in a new package.

Published June 12, 2008 9:18PM (EDT)

The next political flap over evolution is about to land right on one of John McCain's would-be running mates. On Wednesday, the Louisiana House passed a bill that would let the state's teachers change the way they teach topics like global warming, cloning and evolution, letting them discuss criticisms of evolutionary theory and use supplementary materials that some critics fear could include fundamentalist Christian publications.

The bill passed with a resounding 94-3 vote. As the state Senate has already passed a similar measure, the legislation will likely soon be up for Gov. Bobby Jindal's approval. Jindal is rumored to be under consideration as McCain's vice-presidential nominee. How he handles the evolution bill could wind up becoming a factor in whether he's chosen, as conservatives and liberals alike will be watching with some interest.

According to the Washington Times, a spokeswoman for Jindal said only that the governor would review the bill, not whether he would sign it. However, in a recent Boston Globe profile, Sasha Issenberg wrote that the bill is "expected to receive Jindal's signature upon passage." A New York Times piece from June 2 also stated that Jindal has questioned the validity of evolution. Jindal is Catholic, a faith that does not believe evolution contradicts biblical teachings. The governor also holds a degree in biology from Brown University.

The passage of the bill already has opponents of "creation science" in an uproar. The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement, "It's time for Louisiana to step into the 21st century and stop trying to teach religion in public schools ... Laws like this are an embarrassment." His group will sue if teachers try to introduce religious materials into the classroom.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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