'Academic Freedom' Legislation Advances in Four States

Opponents and those who challenge some or all of the tenets of Darwinism have been encouraged recently as the "Academic Freedom" legislation advanced for review in four states.

If passed, the bills would guarantee the freedom of both teachers and students throughout public schools to share views contradicting or challenging the tenets of Darwinism in the classroom without fears of reprisal.

Lawmakers in Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, and Michigan said that the efforts to pass the bills were a response to the concerns of teachers and students who reportedly felt marginalized, discriminated, or ostracized if they shared personal views that ran counter to Darwinism.

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Darrell White, co-director of the Louisiana Family Forum summed up the intentions of the recent legislation drives as an opportunity that would "free up teachers and students [to] fully explore various scientific weaknesses of Darwinism as well as other areas of science."

"In educational institutions that receive taxpayer support, it is entirely appropriate for the government to ensure that teachers and students have the right to discuss freely the evidence and scientific arguments for and against evolutionary theory," explained biologist Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute, a pro-intelligent design think-tank, according to

The Academic Freedom legislation, however, has been faced with some opposition.

Efforts in Florida to pass a bill that would have given students the opportunity to "think critically" and "constantly raise questions" regarding evolution fell flat last week when opponents criticized the bill as an attempt to infuse religion in schools.

But supporters argue that such legislation efforts are about freedom and civil discussion.

"Charles Darwin himself said that fair results could only be obtained by fully balancing and stating the facts and arguments on both sides of each question," noted Casey Luskin, an attorney with the Discovery Institute, in a statement.

"What these bills seek to do is to restore Charles Darwin's approach to teaching evolution — to teach it in a balanced, objective fashion," he added.

Luskin credited Ben Stein's new film, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," with contributing to the proliferation of Academic Freedom legislation. The film, which released nationwide last month, features researchers, professors, and academics who claim to have been marginalized, silenced, or threatened with academic expulsion because of their challenges to some or all parts of Darwin's theory of evolution.

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