By a 70-23 vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives recently approved and sent to the Senate a bill that protects teachers from discipline if they discuss alternatives to prevailing scientific theories, more specifically, evolution.
We all know what a great problem we’ve had with the number of teachers charged by secular humanists with not teaching evolution.
Sponsor, Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said the purpose is to promote "critical thinking" in science classes. What Dunn really means is, “We’ll find a way around that pesky First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
As a matter of fact, the Tennessee Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, Article I, Section 3, is also very specific on this matter and clearly states: “…no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
Apparently there is a gene in the DNA of some that blocks the comprehension of the line between state and religion. The authors of the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution were just a few years removed from both political and religious oppression and strove to make sure it never happened here.
We need only look at the first act of Christian leaders after they were taken off the list of outlaw religions by the Emperor Constantine, just after the penning of the Nicene Creed. The Trinitarian majority immediately asked that Arius, who was not Trinitarian, be banished.
Religion is not irrational but religious zealotry always is. When any believer of any religion crosses the line between gathering converts by persuasion and enforcing any religious belief by power of law, it becomes a threat to religious freedom. There have been few exceptions in the history of humanity.
The theory of evolution does not deal with the spark of creation, the prime motivator, God or whatever we choose to believe brought the universe into existence. It is simply the theory of gradual change. Most thinking people have never seen a conflict between evolution and the existence of God.
On the other hand, it is impossible to teach creationism or intelligent design without bringing religion into the equation. There are private religious schools for those who wish to deny their children access to the world outside religious studies.
Religion and the teaching thereof is for church, Sunday school and family devotions. It is illegal to teach religion in a school paid for by tax dollars. The constitution of Tennessee is even more specific in its language than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Rep. Bill Dunn and his cohorts in the Tennessee House have once more attacked the constitutional separation of church and state and they were not even creative about it. This state has enough problems without the religious right trying to reignite a battle that has already been fought so often.
Religion is personal matter to be studied in places of worship and at home. If the “alternate theories” taught in science classes include, let’s say, the Hindu story of creation, we all know who will scream the loudest.