Teaching creationism in our schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Education Committee of the Alabama State Senate will have on its agenda this week an important bill which I have introduced.

The legislation is entitled &uot;The Academic Freedom Act.&uot;

My proposed bill would allow public school teachers to discuss religious-based creationism within the lesson of human origin.

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Presently, our public school teachers use texts that are filled with the theory of evolution but contain no reference to the biblical view of the creation of humankind.

This, in my opinion, provides a biased approach to the study of the origin of humans.

There have been several court rulings through the years which allow the teaching of evolution to the exclusion of the biblical view of creation, which has made it very difficult to draw legislation to satisfy what courts have called a constitutional requirement.

I believe my approach to this topic will meet &uot;constitutional muster.&uot;

My bill does not exclude the teaching of the theory of evolution.

It merely allows alternative points of view to be spoken without reprisal against the teacher or student for accepting a different viewpoint.

At a preliminary hearing on this legislation last week, several hundred people from all across Alabama presented a petition in support of the bill.

A number of such supporters testified before the committee and voiced their strong feelings that presently there is no level playing field on this subject in the classroom.

One witness testified that &uot;if this law had been on the books in the early part of the last century, the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee would never have taken place.&uot;

Another witness stated that &uot;it is just a matter of basic fairness that all students be exposed to all theories or stories related to creation.&uot;

These remarks summarize the feelings of many teachers and parents with whom I have spoken during the preparation of this legislation.

For my part, I go even beyond what they are saying.

I strongly believe in the biblical story of creation and if I had the final say, evolution would not be taught in our schools.

The &uot;lawyer in me&uot; tells me that such is not a practical approach to solving this problem in this day and time, so I am attempting to do so in a constructive manner which hopefully will produce a good outcome.

There was one witness at the public hearing last week that introduced himself as the head of the Atheists League in Alabama.

He called the Bible a book of myths and superstitions, and I can assure you that his statements were not well received by the members of the Senate Education Committee.

It is attitudes such as he expressed that reinforce the need for the bill I have proposed.

I will keep you informed as to the status of what I feel is a very important piece of legislation especially for our children.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.