By a vote of 72-23, Tennessee’s House of Representatives today passed an academic freedom bill that would protect teachers and school districts who wish to promote critical thinking and objective discussion about controversial science issues such as biological evolution, climate change and human cloning.
“This bill promotes good science education by protecting the academic freedom of science teachers to fully and objectively discuss controversial scientific topics, like evolution,” said Casey Luskin, science education expert and policy analyst at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. Mr. Luskin continued:
Critics who claim the bill promotes religion instead of science either haven’t read the bill or are putting up a smokescreen to divert attention from their goal to censor dissenting scientific views.
The bill expressly states that it
shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.
This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.
The Tennessee State Senate previously passed the bill with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The Tennessee bill is similar to an academic freedom policy adopted in 2008 by Louisiana, known as the Louisiana Science Education Act.
This year, four states have considered academic freedom legislation designed to protect teachers who teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. Many of the bills have been adapted from sample legislation developed by Discovery Institute, including a model statute posted online at www.academicfreedompetition.com.
At least nine states currently have state or local policies that protect, encourage, and sometimes even require teachers to discuss the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.