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Saturday, January 21, 2006

IDiocy Getting Promoted in Utah

KUTV has more here.

The Utah Senate gave its first blessing Friday to a bill that would make schools teach that evolution is not the only scientific theory about the origins of humans.

Sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, the bill was passed by a 17-12 vote after nearly an hour of debate. The bill needs one more affirmative Senate vote before moving on to the House for consideration.

Buttars amended his own bill, inserting the word ``scientific'' in several places to clear up what he said were misperceptions that he was trying to push religion into public schools.

"I've never advocated for, never included anything about intelligent design, creationism or any faith-based philosophy," he said. "(Opponents) say what you're trying to do is sneak the camel's nose inside the tent. By inserting these two words, it becomes 100 percent clear that we're talking about various scientific views."

Regardless of the change, Buttars' supporters spoke about religion in defending their votes for the bill. Some criticized what they called a rise of the "religion of secularism and atheism" in society, which they say squelches expressions of religion in public life.

"It seems like for a long time we've been quiet and allowed these things to happen," Sen. Parley Hellewell, R-Orem said. "I think it's important that we stand and fight for what we believe."

But it was religion that ultimately tipped the scales against the bill for Senate Majority Leader Pete Knudsen, R-Brigham City.

"I thought I heard in (Buttars') statement that if one doesn't vote for this, then one could be considered an atheist. If that was the implication, that concerns me greatly. That is not the spirit in which we should discuss this legislation," he said. "There is a place for evolution in life, it's a part of life. It saddens me that one's faith would be challenged on a vote of this bill. I vote no."

Joining Knudsen on the losing side were three other Republicans, and all eight Senate Democrats, who argued that that decision about specific curricula should be left to locally-elected school boards and education experts.

Early in the debate, Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, offered an amendment to ensure that schools also teach that all areas of science have opposing theories, not just biology.

"If our purpose and our concern is that we want our children to critically analyze and be presented with opposing viewpoints and differing theories, we should apply this across the board," McCoy argued. His amendment failed.

It seems like this issue will probably go up to the Supreme Court for Review at some point. Kansas, Utah, Ohio and Texas all seems to be promoting curriculum with a specific religious bent that will be challenged in the courts on first amendment grounds.