Right on the heels of the Michigan stupidity, I have just learned that Oklahoma is not doomed after all: their governor vetoed an incredibly ridiculous bill that would have allowed students to say the Earth is 6000 years old... and not get graded down for it!
I wrote about this dumb bill before. It really does say that a student can write any bit of nonsense they want on a test or on homework, and if they claim it's their religious belief the teacher cannot mark them wrong. This bill, called "the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act", is yet another shot fired against science by the forces of evil.
Of course, (just like in the Michigan bill), they don't claim this is about creationism. They claim it's about religious freedom. But this is not about freedom, it's about shackling science and beating it to death with nonsense.
Normally I would laud the governor for doing this... if he had said that this bill was anti-reality and intended to promote religious belief. Instead, though, he was all namby-pamby about it:
Henry said students are already allowed to express their faith through voluntary prayer and other activities. He said the legislation was well-intended, but vague and "may trigger a number of unintended consequences that actually impede rather than enhance such expression."
Let's be very clear here: this legislation is not well-intended. It is intended to undermine the Constitution. It's that simple. These people want religion taught in the classroom, and they want to do it at the expense of science and of reality. For them to say anything else is dissembling at the very least. Do you really think they want kids to be able to say that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is responsible for the creation of the world? How about Odin?
Imagine if some kid said she's a satanist. That would go over well.
So I'm very glad indeed the governor vetoed that nasty bit of legislation, but it's not a clear win when it's done for the wrong reason, or announced that way. We need to be clear about this, and we need to make it clear to the politicians: keep your religion out of the classroom. That is one of the rock-solid foundations of our country, and it's one of the most important -- even fundamental -- reasons this country has achieved what it has.
Tip o' the allele to PZ.