Senate President Andy Biggs named Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. Allen replaces Kelli Ward, who resigned the Senate earlier this month to focus on her congressional run. Allen is best known for her controversial public comments over the years. During a legislative hearing in 2009, she said the Earth is 6,000 years old, a belief held by "Young Earth" biblical creationists. In 2013, a Facebook post about chem-trail conspiracies gained widespread media attention, as did a March comment suggesting mandatory church attendance. [...] As chairwoman, she will control which legislative education proposals succeed and which ones die.
It was just two months ago when Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appointed a new commissioner to the state's Department of Education, despite (or perhaps because of) his support for teaching creationism in Maine's public schools.
As it turns out, this isn't an isolated incident. The Arizona Republic reported yesterday that another creationist "will now help shape the future of education" in the Grand Canyon State.
That tidbit about mandatory church attendance may sound outlandish, but it's not a joke. Regular readers may recall a piece from April on this: Allen recommended consideration of a bill "requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth." She conceded at the time that government-imposed worship wouldn't be "allowed," but she saw the idea as a solution to the "moral erosion of the soul of America."
She added at the time that she wanted a return to the 1950s. "People prayed, people went to church. I remember on Sundays the stores were closed," Allen argued. "The biggest thing is religion was kicked out of our public places, out of our schools."
She also believes, in all sincerity, that the planet is only 6,000 years old, which means she's only off by about 4.5 billion years.
And yet, Allen is now the chair of the legislature's Education Committee. What could possibly go wrong?