Indiana Senate Panel Approves Creationist Bill Despite Center for Inquiry’s Letter, Testimony

January 26, 2012

Despite the Center for Inquiry’s best efforts, an Indiana Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow school boards and other authorized educational administrators in the state to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”

Senate Bill 89, passed 8-2 by the Committee on Education and Career Development, will now go to the full floor of the Indiana Senate.

Committee members who voted for SB 89 included the bill’s lead sponsor and committee chair Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), Carlin Yoder (R-District 12), Jim Banks (R-District 17), Jim Buck (R-District 17), Luke Kenley (R-District 20), Jean Leising (R-District 42), Scott Schneider (R-District 30), and Frank Mrvan Jr. (D-District 1). Earline S. Rogers (D-District 3) and Tim Skinner (D-District 38) voted against the bill. To contact these senators, click here.

CFI previously wrote to the ten members of the committee urging them to withdraw or oppose SB 89. Our letter, which stressed that the bill is clearly unconstitutional and in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard, was signed by Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry; Reba Boyd Wooden, Executive Director of CFI-Indiana; and myself.  To download and view our letter, click here.

Yet while the bill did pass, it did not go through without a fight. Wooden (pictured above) attended a public hearing just before the vote to read our letter aloud and field questions from the committee members. You can read news coverage of Wooden’s testimony here and here, watch part of her testimony here, and watch her answer questions here.

Joining Wooden in speaking against the bill were: John Staver, professor of chemistry and science education at Purdue University; Chuck Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association; David Sklar, the Director of Government Relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council; the Reverend Charles Allen, a chaplain for Grace Unlimited, a campus ministry in the Indianapolis area. 

We will continue to track this issue and let you know when the Indiana Senate plans to vote on SB 89.