Antievolution legislation on the horizon in Indiana

Efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution are likely to be revived in the Indiana legislature, according to a columnist for the Lafayette Journal and Courier (November 10, 2012). At the center of the efforts is state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14), who told the newspaper that he plans to introduce a bill drafted by the Discovery Institute, presumably along the lines of the bills adopted, despite the protests of the scientific and educational communities, in Tennessee in 2012 and Louisiana in 2008. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was quoted as describing such bills as a "permission slip for teachers to bring creationism, climate-change denial and other non-science into science classrooms."

In 2011, Kruse's Senate Bill 89 would have allowed local school districts to require the teaching of creation science — despite the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard that teaching creation science in public schools is unconstitutional. SB 89 passed the Senate but was amended to delete the reference to creation science and to require reference to "Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology"; the speaker of the House of Representatives declined to let it come to a vote there, and the bill died when the legislature adjourned. Now, Kruse told the Journal and Courier, "We're going to try something a little different this time."

Although the text of the bill that Kruse eventually introduces in the senate may disclaim any intention to promote a religious doctrine, it seems likely that in Indiana as in Tennessee and Louisiana, it will be difficult for the legislative sponsors to avoid disclosing their true intentions. "I'd guess 80 percent of Indiana would be oriented with the Bible and creation," Kruse was quoted as saying. His previous efforts — SB 89 and two similar bills he introduced in 2000 and 2001 while serving in the Indiana House of Representatives, plus a 1999 pledge to introduce legislation to remove evolution from the state science standards — might also be taken as indicative.