Tennessee Bill Targets Those Who Teach Evolution

Article excerpt

The state where John Scopes was tried and convicted in 1925 for teaching evolution again wants to restrict what students can be told about the origins of man.

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 proposed amendments.

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 Democrat from Memphis.

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. …

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