First up from the God Machine this week is a closer look at religious efforts to undermine biology education in public schools, including a new parental-notification proposal that would be the first in the nation.
Anti-evolution activists have pushed a variety of measures over the last several decades, hoping to either eliminate or water down science-class curricula, though nearly all of the efforts have been struck down in the courts. The efforts nevertheless persist, even now in the 21st century, with state lawmakers weighing new science restrictions in several states.
Missouri, however, is breaking new ground.
A Missouri lawmaker has proposed what ranks among the most anti-evolution legislation in recent years, which would require schools to notify parents if “the theory of evolution by natural selection” was being taught at their child’s school and give them the opportunity to opt out of the class. […]State Rep. Rick Brattin (R), who sponsored the bill, told a local TV station last week that teaching only evolution in school was “indoctrination.”
There are no parental-notification laws on science classes anywhere in the United States. Brattin’s bill, which may actually be the first of its kind, received its first public hearing on Thursday.
The Missouri Republican added that modern biology is based “as much faith and, you know, just as much pulled out of the air as, say, any religion.”
As TPM’s report added, the bill would also require schools to “make all curriculum materials used in the district’s or school’s evolution instruction available for public inspection … prior to the use of such materials in actual instruction.”
This is, incidentally, one of two anti-evolution proposals currently pending in the state legislature.
In case it’s not already obvious, Brattin’s proposal would crush science education in Missouri, which one suspects is the point of the effort.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Alabama state lawmakers are considering a new bill that would require public school classrooms to share a daily prayer with children. Though courts would almost certainly disagree, proponents believe the measure would be constitutional because the prayer would be the same one used to start the legislative day in Congress.
* At Bob Jones University, student victims of sexual abuse have been encouraged for many years not to report the crimes, insisting that the allegations would be bad for Christianity. Two years ago, however, administrators hired a Christian consulting group to consider changes to the school’s policy, though this week, with the consultants’ investigation nearly complete, the university abruptly fired the group.
* Notre Dame’s fight against contraception isn’t going especially well: “A lawyer representing the University of Notre Dame got into a heated exchange with a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday over the federal health care law’s contraception mandate, which the Roman Catholic university claims violates its religious belief” (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* An unusual story out of India drew international attention this week: “Chandre Oraon, of West Bengal, has a slew of worshippers because he reportedly was born with a tail. According to News.com.au, his followers think Oraon may be the Hindi god Hanuman, a monkey-like humanoid” (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).