Louisiana State Legislature Passes Landmark Act That Encourages Critical Analysis of Evolution

Staff
Discovery Institute
June 16, 2008
Baton Rouge -- With a 36-0 vote, Louisiana’s state senate today passed a landmark academic freedom bill protecting teachers that encourage critical thinking and objective discussion about evolution and other scientific topics.

Known as the Louisiana Science Education Act, the bill was previously passed by the state’s House of Representatives with a 94-3 vote, and now will be sent to the governor for his signature.

“The bill is a bold statement protecting the freedom of teachers to discuss both the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution and other controversial scientific theories,” said Casey Luskin, an attorney and program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute. “The bill does exactly what it says, which is to allow teachers and school districts to ‘use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.’”

“This is great news for the science teachers in public school classrooms in Louisiana, and it's great news for science education in the whole State of Louisiana,” said Wade Warren, Professor of Biology and Cavanaugh Chair in Biology at Louisiana College, who testified in favor of the bill before the Louisiana legislature last month. “Not all DNA and fossil evidence support a Darwinian view of life. This bill gives teeth to the freedom of a public school science teacher to ask their students to objectively analyze the scientific data.”

Critics have smeared the bill by falsely claiming the law would allow the teaching of creationism or other religious beliefs, when doing so is in fact forbidden by the act. Section 1D of the bill clearly states that it "shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion."

Defending the bill’s constitutionality, Luskin noted that “the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that it is permissible for schools to teach scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories.”