Tennessee Skewers Teaching of Evolution in Schools — Is Your State Next?
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ALEC, Heartland and their incorporated friends, as it happens, aren’t the only people interested in “teaching the controversy” about global warming. The climate science denial industry has a new ally in God — or at least the God of a group that calls itself the Cornwall Alliance. The roster of the Cornwall Alliance represent a Who’s Who of the religious right — from Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council to pseudo-historian and darling of the Religious Right David Barton — and they have declared as a matter of high theology that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing global warming.” The leader of the Cornwall Alliance, E. Calvin Beisner, appears to have equally solid theological reasons to believe that “policies meant to reduce alleged carbon-dioxide induced global warming will be destructive.” It seems almost beside the point to note that Beisner also happens to think that the attempt to keep creationism out of biology classrooms is evidence of “aggressive extreme secularism.”
Like all good marriages, the union of the corporate climate deniers and the theologians is based on more than just one common trait, in this instance an animosity toward science. They also hate public education. ALEC, the Heartland Institute, the pro-creationist Discovery Institute and the leading members of the Cornwall Alliance have public school “reform” at the top of their list. But by “reform” they basically mean siphoning money from public schools and diverting it to private religious academies. As I discovered while researching and writing my book, The Good News Club, many leaders of these groups see secular public education – that is, public education that does not endorse any particular religious viewpoint – as the root of much evil in modern society. If they can’t get their doctrines into the schools, they would be happy to see the schools fail.
Tennessee, as it turns out, was not the first and certainly will not be the last to benefit from the approach to education promoted by ALEC and friends. Louisiana already has on its books the Louisiana Science Education Act, a title that should be taken to mean that science in Louisiana is rather different from science elsewhere on the planet. Texas adopted a similar law mandating climate science denial in K–12 education in 2009, and South Dakota did the same in 2010. This year, a half-dozen anti-science bills have been put forward in state legislatures across the nation: two each in New Hampshire and Missouri, one each in Indiana and Oklahoma. And it isn’t even summer yet.
Money helps the legislation go 'round, of course. Still, one has to wonder about the financial calculus of the corporate sponsors that have been footing the bill. Yes, it may be true that the more ignorant the public is about climate science, the more money they stand to make. But for how long? Don’t these people have children, too?