An Indiana Senate committee voted 8-2 on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would require the state's public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution in science class.
The Senate Education Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in favor of the bill despite protests from advocacy groups.
"The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation," the bills says.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argued that teaching creationism in science class clearly promotes one religion's beliefs over another and violates the constitution.
"The idea that somehow our state legislature can trump the Constitution just doesn't make sense," ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk said in a statement. "When lawmakers propose legislation they clearly know will end up in the courts, it wastes valuable time and resources, disrespects the legislative process and confuses an already complicated issue."
Sources close to the situation, even several lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure, believe the bill will be deemed unconstitutional if it is challenged. Falk said many past Supreme Court rulings have set the precedent to keep creationism out of science classes.
But those in favor of the measure believe the conversation is worth having, even if the bill is deemed unlawful.
Sen. Scott Schneider told the committee on Wednesday that teaching creationism as a rival to evolution will benefit students as they learn an alternative to theories about the origins of life.
"What are we afraid of? Allowing an option for students including creation science as opposed to limiting their exposure?" Schneider said, adding that evolutionary theory has many holes and many scientists agree with creationism.
Georgia Purdom, research analyst and speaker with pro-creationism group Answers in Genesis, said the reasons are plenty to separate creationism from science class.
"We do not advocate the teaching of creation in public schools," Purdom, who has a Ph.D. in molecular science, told The Christian Post. "If it's taught incorrectly, it can actually backfire and be more detrimental than helping people understand the issue."
Purdom said it is the parents' responsibility, not public schools,' to teach their children about Christian theories of life's origins.
"No matter how your child is schooled, it's the responsibility of every parent to teach their children what the truth is as there is a lot of controversy," Purdom said. "We would expect things like evolution to be taught in public school."
Secular humanist group Center for Inquiry wrote a letter to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Dennis Kruse, expressing legal opposition to the measure.
"This (bill) would violate both the spirit and letter of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,'" the letter reads. "In other words, the U.S. government and its agencies should remain neutral on the matter of religion. It should not favor one religion over another, nor should it favor religion over nonreligion."
Purdom said religion and science can co-exist harmoniously, but there is danger in forcing anyone to learn traditionally religious interpretations of life's origins.
"We're talking about atoms and chemicals and plants and trees, and that's all observational science. When it comes to creation and evolution, that's historical science and that's very mush determined by a person's worldview," Purdom said.
"I want my child to learn good observational science, but when it comes to historical science, I know what a public school is going to teach, so it's my job to teach my daughter what to know," she added.
The bill will move to the full Senate for a heretofore-unscheduled vote.