Antievolution legislation in Mississippi

A bill in Mississippi is apparently the first antievolution bill of 2010. House Bill 586, introduced on January 12, 2010, and referred to the House Education Committee, would, if enacted, require local school boards to include a lesson on human evolution at the beginning of their high school biology classes. The catch: "The lesson provided to students ... shall have proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution."

The bill also would amend a section of existing state law that provides, "No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life," by adding, apparently unnecessarily, "except that any discussion of the evolution of humanity shall be required to be given by a biology teacher, as required by Section 1 of this act." The legislative history of that section of state law suggests that it was intended to allow or encourage the presentation of antievolution material in science classes, as NCSE previously reported.

The sponsor of HB 586, Gary Chism (R-District 37), introduced HB 25 in 2009. The bill, if enacted, would have required biology textbooks in the state to include a hybrid of two previous versions of the Alabama evolution disclaimer. Speaking to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (January 24, 2009), Chism was candid about his motivations for the bill, explaining, "Either you believe in the Genesis story, or you believe that a fish walked on the ground," and adding, "All these molecules didn't come into existence by themselves." HB 25 died in committee on February 3, 2009.