Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another anti-science politician

Senator David Vitter, R-La, is trying to use public funds to support a Creationist group, the Louisiana Family Forum. Officially the money is earmarked "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The Times-Picayune has the story

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

There are two issues here.
1) Vitter is trying to channel federal funds to an organization to which he has ties.
2) Vitter is trying to channel federal funds to an organization which wants to teach Creationism either as a supplement to evolution (the official goal) or instead of evolution (the real goal).

Either of those two issues should be enough to get the earmarked money out of the bill, but combined there should be no doubt whatsoever. Unfortunately, I doubt that any senators will raise the issue, and do something about it.

Given the fact that Creationism has a blatant religious connection, and that the US Supreme Court has made it clear it's illegal to teach Creationism, I would say that there grounds for legal action. Something the article also implies

Critics said taxpayer money should not go to support a religion-based program.

"This is a misappropriation of public funds," said Charles Kincade, a civil rights lawyer in Monroe who has been involved in church-state cases. "It's a backdoor attempt to push a religious agenda in the public school system.

The article also states that the appropriations bill is awaiting Senate action, which means that the earmark could still be killed. Maybe if people write to their senators, this blatant misuse of public funds can be stopped?
If you write to your senator, it might be a good idea to mention both the inappropriateness of the funding and the inappropriateness of the senator's close ties to the organization he wants to give money to.

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Blogger Oldfart said...

What would be the point in my writing to Senator Brownback of Kansas about this matter? He's probably sorry he didn't think of it himself.

September 25, 2007 6:37 PM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Well, maybe it won't help writing Brownback...

Isn't there any sane senator representing Kansas?

September 27, 2007 7:40 AM  

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