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Scopes, take 2
The following article appeared in today's San Jose Mercury News (Tues., March
5, 1996). In light of all the recent discussion about the presentation of
creationism and pseudoscience to the general public, I thought that it be of
interest, because it shows how "attitudes" can become entrenched and put into
law. This is the article in it's entirety, I donUt have any more info, so
please donUt flame me. -Bruce
The Scopes debate enters Round 2
Tennessee bill puts teachers at risk for teaching evolution
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)- The state where John Scopes was tried and convicted in
1925 for teaching evolution once again wants to restrict what students can be
told about the origins of humans.
The Tennessee Senate is considering legislation to fire any teacher who
presents evolution as fact. The bill was expected to pass during Monday
night's session but instead was sent back to committee for study of six
The amendments included one that would have protected teachers who wanted to
teach the biblical theories of creation along with evolution. Another, passed
on a voice vote, changed the wording to say a teacher "could" be fired instead
of "shall" be fired.
The bill had been expected to pass despite an attorney general's opinion it
violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Already this year, Tennessee senators have gone on record in favor of
displaying the Ten Commandments in churches, schools, businesses, and homes
for 10 days in May, and against same sex marriages.
"This is a trilogy that is making this state a comedy", said Sen. Steve
Cohen, a Memphis Democrat.
The sponsor of the evolution bill is Sen. Tommy Burks, whose home district
is 45 miles northwest of Dayton, site of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial". He
said he introduced the bill because constituents told him evolution was being
taught as fact in Tennessee schools. He won't say where.
The bill seems destined to pass the Senate and then the House without
significant help from lobbyists. The conservative Eagle Forum has been the
most vocal backer of the bill, which some lawmakers said is hard to oppose.
"You can't explain a no vote in a 15-second sound bite," said Rep. Eugene
Davidson, who voted for the bill when it cleared the House Education Committee.
Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, has not said what he will do if the bill
reaches his desk.
The bill is more lenient than the law under which Scopes, a substitute
biology teacher, was convicted of teaching evolution and fined $100.
That law prohibited teaching "any theory that denies the story of the Divine
Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach again that man has
descended from a lower order of animals."
Burks' bill doesn't ban the teaching of evolution as theory or promote the
teaching of Biblical theories, but teachers say no one knows how the law might
"teachers will be afraid to teach anything about evolution," so students
will miss a portion of their basic science curriculum, said Wesley Roberts, an
ecology teacher at Nashville's Hillwood High.
Scopes' conviction was overturned on a technicality, but the law stayed on
the books until it was repealed in 1967.