A TEA Party lawmaker named Rep. Clayton Fiscus (R-Billings) is resurrecting an “intelligent design” creationism law that would force teachers to reduce facts to mere subjects for debate under the guise of teaching “critical thinking skills” to students in public schools. The Bill draft LC1324 a slightly modified version of his failed 2013 HB183. The National Center for Science Education has good information about and links to this current attempt as well as the previous 2013 tabled bill. The 2013 hearing on this was packed with teachers and professors — including many from the private Catholic Carroll College– all in strong opposition to the bill.
The language of the bill is pretty insulting to teachers. It claims that they may be “unsure” of whether they should try to reduce facts to the level of beliefs in their classes and that they need people like Fiscus’s to instruct them on what to do. It is yet another stealth attempt to use the whole “false equivalency” rationale to get Intelligent Design Creationism taught as a “scientific theory” on an equal footing with evolution – sort of an “equal time” kind of thing.
If people want to believe that mental illness is demonic possession, or that the way to deal with rape is to pay the father of the rape victim 50 pieces of silver and call it good, as The Bible tells us, then they should go ahead and do so I guess. But these things don’t belong in science classes nor in the laws of a modern society in 2015.
Intelligent Design Creationism has been ruled by the courts to be religious belief (Kitzmiller v. Dover, 2005) and its teaching in public schools ruled to be a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no scientific controversy concerning acceptance of evolution. It is an observed, proven fact.
The more disconcerting aspect this go round is that Sarah Laszloffy and Debra Lamm are Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the House Education committee. The Montana Family Foundation connections to Greg Gianforte and his financial support of creationist endeavors in Montana (e.g. the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, Montana Bible College) suggest that these individuals (Laszloffy and Lamm) understand neither what science is nor the separation clause of the First Amendment. The young earth creationist tentacles of the Gianforte Foundation are entangled with both Laszloffy and Lamm, given their ties to the Montana Family Foundation. Indeed, they apparently believe that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together and even that its possible to learn to “do” the bible and bring the dead back to life.
Prior to Fiscus, the last time a creationist bill was tried in Montana was in 2001, when Joe Balyeat, now leading the fight against medical care with Americans for Prosperity, introduced it, which is telling.
This latest effort certainly reaffirms the GOP’s position as the anti-science and knowledge party. Montana’s TEA Party Sen. Steve Daines has even joined the fight to make facts less valid than beliefs and has gone public with his own creationism.
Two other bills aimed at making Montana kids stupid are LC1134 and LC 1697 – more on these later. I suspect that these bills are aimed to address the fear that new modern education standards may require that facts must be taught in our schools, which is frightening to people like the MT Family Foundation.