The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is happy to report today that leader of the Indiana House of Representatives is shelving a Senate-approved bill that would have allowed public schools across the state to teach children the creation stories of various mainstream religions.
“It seemed to me not to be a productive discussion, particularly in light that there is a United States Supreme Court case that appears to be on point that very similar language is counter to the constitution,” Bosma said. “It looked to me to be buying a lawsuit when the state can ill afford it.”
Bosma’s announcement marks a victory for secularists everywhere, and especially CFI, which has been working on this bill from the very beginning.
On Jan. 18, we wrote to the ten members of the Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, urging them to withdraw or oppose SB 89. Our letter stressed that the bill was unconstitutional and in violation of the Supreme Court’s 1987 ruling Edwards v. Aguillard, and faced a doomed yet costly court battle. CFI-Indiana Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden also attended a public hearing just before the vote to read our letter aloud and field questions from the committee members. Despite our best efforts, the committee approved the bill 8-2.
SB 89 was then amended before the full Senate vote. The bill, as introduced by Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), originally read that school boards and other authorized educational administrators could “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” It was amended by Sen. Vi Simpson (D-District 40) to read that:
“The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.”
The Senate passed the amended bill 28-22. Yet while the new version of SB 89 was a supposed middle ground between religious and secular positions, CFI still had serious concerns, all of which I outlined here.
Most recently, we lobbied House members to move onto more noteworthy and important matters. It appears they were listening. Unfortunately, Sen. Kruse has said that he will probably introduce the proposal again next year in an effort to overturn Edwards v. Aguillard. Hopefully Indiana lawmakers have learned their lesson and oppose the bill.
To thank your local legislator for his or her work on this bill, click here.