Creationism in Kentucky

| 23 Comments

Pop quiz: name the state that still has, officially on the books, an “equal time” provision for creationism, in defiance of the 1987 Supreme Court decision Edwards v. Aguillard and much additional case law? No, not Alabama, although they do still have Evolution Warning Labels mandated in all biology textbooks.

That’s right, it’s Kentucky, future home of the $25 million dollar creationism museum run by Answers in Genesis. We are actually coming up on the 15th anniversiary of Kentucky Revised Statute 158.177, which has been in place since July 13, 1990. If you don’t believe me, read this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Enquirer quotes the statute, which I reproduce below:

Kentucky Revised Statute 158.177

(1) In any public school instruction concerning the theories of the creation of man and the earth, and which involves the theory thereon commonly known as evolution, any teacher so desiring may include as a portion of such instruction the theory of creation as presented in the Bible, and may accordingly read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation, thereby affording students a choice as to which such theory to accept.

(2) For those students receiving such instruction, and who accept the Bible theory of creation, credit shall be permitted on any examination in which adherence to such theory is propounded, provided the response is correct according to the instruction received.

(3) No teacher in a public school may stress any particular denominational religious belief.

(4) This section is not to be construed as being adverse to any decision which has been rendered by any court of competent jurisdiction.

Effective: July 13, 1990

Source: Kentucky Legislature

If you still don’t believe me, you can see it right here on the Kentucky Legislature website (see also the Kentucky Revised Statues page, scroll down to 177).

Now, this is really vintage creationism – no euphemisms or anything: no “scientific creationism,” “creation science,” “intelligent design,” “weaknesses of evolution,” “evolution is a theory, not fact,” etc. Just read the kids Genesis in biology class – it’s actually rather refreshing in a perverse kind of way. The language in this law dates back to the days when men were men, creationists were creationists, and dinosaurs walked the earth with men according to the creationists. (This was about 1976, apparently, which was when the first version of the bill was passed. It was revised in 1990, probably in a half-hearted attempt to dodge Edwards in the event the law was challenged, which I guess it wasn’t.)

Fortunately, at least some of the people in Kentucky see this bill as a problem:

Dr. Chris Lorentz, associate professor of biology at Thomas More College, said all biology courses there are based on the theory of evolution.

He said teachers would be doing a disservice to students by not talking about creationism, but he doesn’t see much point in debating the two since one is based on science and the other on faith.

“The theory of evolution is the most plausible theory. A theory in science literally means a well-tested hypothesis with ample amounts of evidence,” Lorentz said. “But when you say God created life on Earth - you can’t test that.”Cincinnati Enquirer

I bet the position of the Biology Department at Thomas More College annoys the folks at the Thomas More Law Center

It is worth adding that it is clear from the the article that this bill is not some ignored anachronism, like the laws you occasionally hear about banning certain kinds of bathtubs. Based on the article, this law is apparently recognized by the Kentucky Department of Education and they have no objection when teachers teach creationist pseudoscience (correction: make that illegal creationist pseudoscience) in biology classes. Never mind the Constitution or the bit about “education” in “Department of Education.”

Have we any Kentucky readers? What do you think about this situation? There must be some Kentucky bloggers out there. What do you think about the fact that Kentucky will soon be the world headquarters of young-earth creationism, between this law and AiG museum? It might be worth forwarding links to the Enquirer article and/or this post to your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Looking up the Kentucky Legislature and the Kentucky ACLU might not be a bad idea either.

References

William Croyle (2005). “Science, faith get equal play in classroom”. Cincinnati Enquirer, February 14, 2005. http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.[…]33/-1/back01

(Concerned individuals might also email me at NCSE – matzkeATncseweb.org)

23 Comments

Speaking of the AiG museum:

AiG Creation Museum sub-page

Creation Museum being built in Kentucky, USA! (March 2003)

Reality drama at the Creation Museum:

15 September 2004 — We’re not talking about so-called ‘reality TV.’ At the Creation Museum special effects theater, you’ll see true stories from the Bible, not embellished with unrealistic subplots. And the unusual twist is accuracy—both biblical and scientific!

Apparently, being from Kansas isn’t quite so bad. I’m feeling a little better now. Thanks Nick.

What a moronic law. Exactly how are you supposed not to “stress any particular denominational religious belief” when you’re teaching the Bible?

Some people in Kentucky seem to be arrogant enough to think they are up to decide what ‘the Bible theory of creation’ is. They seem to be unaware how far the bible is from being a textbook, both in form and content and how hideously out of shape the texts in there have to be twisted to conform with SciCre.

P.S.(off topic): I would dearly like to see AiG’s take on the more ‘adult’ stories in the OT. Literalism and prudery colliding must be a sight to behold.

The earth is flat. believe in me and the Bible or you will be lost!!!

(4) This section is not to be construed as being adverse to any decision which has been rendered by any court of competent jurisdiction.

These are always my favorite. Oh, by the way, we’re going to assume the powers of the judicial branch and go ahead and rule in our favor. Sorry Supreme Court, the bill states plain and clear that it can’t be unconstitutional, so the issue has been laid to rest.

I have to wonder sometimes just how much of our democracy these people are willing to sacrifice for their agenda.

It’s humilating enough that our state will house The “Creation” Science museum, this statute is even worse.I was unaware of this state law. There are plenty of people in our state that accept evolution as fact

Thanks

Shaun-Louisville

Ginger: Right on target! Whenever I hear of someone advocating teaching Creationism, I immediately think, which one?

SHAUN GALLAGHER Wrote:

It’s humilating enough that our state will house The “Creation” Science museum…

You are not alone. There’s Kent Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land in Florida, the Institute for Creation Research Museum in California, and the Creation Evidence Museum in Texas - in fact here’s shocking long list of Creation museums.

I just wanted to point out in the interest of accuracy that the statute wasn’t actually changed in 1990, it was just technically repealed and reenacted as part of a very large education reform act that had nothing to do with creationism.

I noticed, having read the article, that the teacher they profiled who used Genesis in his class isn’t a bible thumping creationist, but actually convinced a couple of creationist kids in his class that God could have created life through the process of evolution! Talk about taking a lemon and making lemonade!

I noticed, having read the article, that the teacher they profiled who used Genesis in his class isn’t a bible thumping creationist, but actually convinced a couple of creationist kids in his class that God could have created life through the process of evolution! Talk about taking a lemon and making lemonade!

Let’s hope those kids parents are either sympathetic to that view, or don’t find out. If they aren’t sympathetic, what are the odds that they’ll “spare the rod” in their efforts to cleanse their kids’ brains and mouths of such heretical materialist nonsense?

How come no one is taking this law to court? I would suspect that it would receive summary judgement at district court.

– Anti-spam: Replace “user” with “harlequin2”

How can a state’s electorate tolerate such nonsense?

Clauses 1 and 2 are plainly unconstitutional.

Clause 3 directly contradicts what’s provided for in clauses 1 and 2, and

Clause 4 is arrant nonsense that would be thrown out of court in the first court in which the law was contested.

I sure hope some group of parents in Kentucky with kids in the schools, to insure they have standing, should sue the state in Federal court.

How come no one is taking this law to court? I would suspect that it would receive summary judgement at district court.

Maybe because Nathan “atheism is a religion” Newman warned them of a “conservative backlash.”

As a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (1994), this doesn’t surprise me in the least. I remember giving a presentation in genetics class about using mitochondrial dna to trace human origins, and after my presentation, about 5 hands went up for questions. The first person said, “Maybe you and the [racial epithet] came from the monkeys, but the rest of us were created by God!” I ignored the question and asked if there were any others. No other hands went up.

Then in our evolutionary biology class, the professor who had been there many, many years and was obviously familiar with the territory, began the first class by saying “If any of you are here thinking you’re going to debate me about the Bible or creationism or you’re going to waste our time trying to prove me wrong, get out. I’ll sign your drop slip right now.” About 5 people got up and left.

The farther east and south you go in Kentucky, the more economically depressed and backwards it gets. Anti-evolutionism, racism, and general anti-everything but conservative white Christianity is the norm.

It was an odd mix of cultures in that area. EKU is just down the road from the University of Kentucky and the legacy of Thomas Hunt Morgan and his early work with Drosophila, but is firmly in the heart of creationism-world.

Indeed. For a funeral in November (kind of near Lexington), I drove from Raleigh, through much of southeastern Ky. I passed one place called Fundamental Christian Church. Then I spent the weekend with many Kentucky relatives. It only surprises me that the damn thing won’t be called Kentucky Kreationizm Muzeim.

Does anyone know the criteria to be a plantiff if the ACLU were to sue? I don’t have children, but teach geology part time at Lexington Community College and am President of the Kentucky Paleontological Society http://www.kyps.org . Moreover, I am a native Kentuckian and have been long active in combating creationism.

Dan

Dan Phelps asked…

Does anyone know the criteria to be a plantiff if the ACLU were to sue? 

Contact the Kentucky office of the ACLU. I don’t know their location, but the ACLU must have an office with a resident counsel in either Louisville or Frankfort. They should be listed on the web; I know the Pennsylvania (where I live) offices are.

As a resident and taxpayer, you surely qualify as a plaintiff, but I would expect they’d prefer to have adults with children enrolled in the public schools, especially ones who are studing biology now or will be taking it shortly. On the latter point the Thomas More Law Center in the Dover PA case has asked the court to remove the ACLU plaintiffs whose children have already taken biology or won’t for a number of years (because they’re in the first or second grade). The court hasn’t responded to the request, but I suspect it will reject it. But then I’m not a lawyer, so I’m speculating. Maybe someone else who is can respond.

Dan Phelps asked

Does anyone know the criteria to be a plantiff if the ACLU were to sue?

Contact ncseoffice(AT)ncseweb.org.

RBH

Tonight, when I had more time, I googled “ACLU Kentucky” and came up with the following:

ACLU of Kentucky 315 Guthrie Street  Suite 300 Louisville, KY 40202-3820 ph: 502-581-1181  fax: 502-589-9687 [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

The ACLU is also reachable via their website.

One needs standing to sue. You’d have to have a dog in the fight.

The plaintiff, Epperson, in Epperson v. Arkansas was a high school biology teacher who thought the law requiring equal time for creationism to be illegal. The plaintiff in Lee v. Weisman (a graduation prayer case) was the father of a student.

The difficulty I see in this law is that it’s so bizarre. The last clause could be read to nullify the rest of it. The first two sections specifically endorse a peculiar view of a particular faith, but the third section says teachers won’t do what the first two sections allow.

Has anyone ever done anything under the color of that law? My guess is it also conflicts with the state standards in science.

What a delicious, dangerous mess!

Ed wrote

What a delicious, dangerous mess!

Heinlein wrote (I think in Glory Road) that “Vox populi, vox Dei” translates as “How the Hell did we get into this mess?”

RBH

Don’t worry one day God will sort this whole thing out.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on February 16, 2005 10:09 PM.

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