Creationist rumblings in Louisiana

Creationism is stirring in Louisiana, with a proposal to teach creationism in Livingston Parish and a call for creationists to scrutinize textbooks proposed for adoption by the state in the headlines.

"The Livingston Parish School Board will begin exploring the possibility of incorporating the teaching of 'creationism' in the public school system's science classes," reported the Baton Rouge Advocate (July 24, 2010). The director of curriculum for the district reportedly told the board that, under the Louisiana Science Education Act, schools are allowed to present "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes. The response from the board was enthusiastic, with David Tate asking, "Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" and Clint Mitchell adding, "Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom." Keith Martin, the president of the board, agreed, "Maybe it's time that we look at this," and proposed the formation of a committee to study the possibility.

Meanwhile, as the state is receiving input from citizens about science textbooks proposed for state adoption, creationist activists are urging their followers to object to the coverage of evolution. In a letter published in the Hammond Daily Star (July 26, 2010), Barbara Forrest debunks a series of misleading claims about the so-called Santorum Amendment, the state of public opinion about evolution, and the scientific accuracy of leading biology textbooks. After reviewing the all-too-successful recent history of antievolutionist efforts in Louisiana, she concludes, "Throughout it all, the citizens of Louisiana have remained almost completely silent. With a few commendable exceptions, the scientific community has done the same. Will they finally do something this time to stop the assault on science and public education?"

Louisiana, it will be remembered, was on the losing side of the last legal case involving the teaching of evolution in the public schools to be decided by the Supreme Court, Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).