September 26, 2007
Today the American Humanist Association brought attention to a little-noticed earmark in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R.3043). Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has called for federal funds to be set aside for the Louisiana Family Forum “to develop a plan to promote better science education.” But such language is decidedly misleading to humanists who note that this religious organization has pushed “origins science” in Louisiana public schools and challenged the teaching of evolution.
“The Louisiana Family Forum’s idea of science education is nothing but Bible study in the garb of science,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Not only would it be unconstitutional under the First Amendment for Congress to fund such a program, what is the new Congress thinking in entertaining this suggestion to lend creationism scientific legitimacy? This kind of nonsense wouldn’t fly in any other Westernized country.”
“Though Congress hasn’t passed any laws to explicitly fund George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives, this pork barrel spending would be an example of Congress doing it on their own,” said Mel Lipman, president of the American Humanist Association. “We humanists had hoped that recent changes in Congress would have solidified support for Thomas Jefferson’s Wall of church-state separation. But if this bill passes with this earmark intact, the American people will be betrayed.”
Posted on the Web site of the Louisiana Family Forum are a number of creationist articles challenging Darwin and modern science. The organization’s online mission statement declares a purpose “To persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.”
According to the Louisiana Times-Picayune, until recently the group’s Web site “contained a ‘battle plan to combat evolution,’ which called the theory a ‘dangerous’ concept that ‘has no place in the classroom.’ The document was removed after a reporter’s inquiry.”
“We’re sending a signal to those in office that we’ll be watching this, and other efforts to misuse taxpayer dollars to fund religion, very closely,” said Speckhardt. “This will be a key test as to whether an election-year Senate has become too willing to initiate legislation with a sectarian religious bias.”
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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.