Louisiana Student Fights Vortex Sucking Louisiana Into the Middle Ages

May 10 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Zack Kopplin

In Louisiana, 17-year-old Baton Rouge high school student Zack Kopplin is fighting for his future.

Louisiana, like other Republican and Tea Party-controlled states, wants to return to a time when science did not explain the world. To a time when that task was left to religion – a specific religion. We are left to wonder how long it will be before teachers are ordered to teach that the world is flat. Or that the sun really does all revolve around the earth. Who needs gravity, or, while we’re at it, germ theory?

These things seem far-fetched, but so does reality in Louisiana, where Science Education Act, R.S. 17:285.1, which was passed in 2008, replaced science with religion by allowing the teaching of Christian Creationism, including Intelligent Design, in public schools. Not church schools. But public schools. This act states in part,

B.(1)  The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

And obviously, the so-called “Science Education Act” has nothing at all to do with critical thinking, logical analysis or objective discussion or with science at all, and though it insists

D.  This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

The Science Education Act has everything to do with religion as the evidence demonstrates:

In Livingston Parish, Jan Benton, Director of Curriculum, told the Livingston Parish School Board that the law’s purpose is to allow the teaching of “critical thinking and creationism” in science classes. Here is an excerpt from the article about the board’s discussion in the July 24, 2010, Baton Rouge Advocate.

Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?” 
Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, “I agree … you don’t have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom.” (Emphasis added)

And that religion brings up a chilling specter not of our future, but of our present. As Change.org chillingly puts it in an email alert,

There’s no such thing as evolution. There’s no such thing as climate change. And that’s the law.

Outrageous as it sounds, this is the situation that thousands of science teachers find themselves in as more and more states pass radical laws promoting the teaching of creationism and climate-change denial in public classrooms.

According to the Washington Post,

Since January, anti-science legislators in seven states have proposed nine bills attacking evolution and evolution education, according to the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in public schools.

The truth is that before the Enlightenment, religion, not science, explained the world around us. There was no need to question, no need for wonder, because all that was needed to know was known. “The Bible says so” was good enough for all and sundry. Asking questions could get you killed, as the father of modern science, Renee Decartes, well knew, writing safely first from the relative Netherlands and then when the fires grew too hot, Sweden.

Of course, going back in time isn’t easy.  Christofascism’s turning back the clock is always well-funded, in Louisiana by Christian lobbying firm Louisiana Family Forum, a spinoff of Christian pundit James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. According to Zack Kopplin, who is fighting to overturn the bill, they spent $125,000 getting this bill made law.

Kopplin says,

“When Louisiana students apply to college, people won’t know if that student was taught creationism in their science classes. Maybe they’ll think they don’t have the science background to get into college.”

Kopplin recognizes (even if the alleged adults behind this atrocity don’t) that science is important in today’s world, and for America’s standing generally and Louisiana’s specifically. Even economics argues against the teaching of religion in public schools: “What investor is going to invest in science in Louisiana? We’re considered the most anti-science state,” he asks.

Of course, Kopplin doesn’t have a big Christofascists lobbying firm on his side; he doesn’t have $125,000 to buy elections, but he did gather the signatures of 42 Nobel Laureates on a letter sent to the state legislature, calling for the law to be repealed.

Kopplin also enlisted the aid of Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and on April 15 she introduced SB 70 to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act.

On April 28 Kopplin and his supporters marched on the state capitol in Baton Rouge, and demanded repeal of the law. Demanded “that accurate, research-based science education be the only curriculum taught in Louisiana classrooms.” He also started a petition on Change.org to rally Louisiana supporters.

The determined student has also won the support of various pro-science groups:

Unsurprisingly, he has also been accused of attacking religion. But he’s not; he’s got the Constitution behind him. Teaching religion is anti-Constitutional, a violation of Supreme Court rulings on the subject including Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), which struck down an earlier law mandating the teaching of Creationism in Louisiana.

And not all Christians want to put young Kopplin to the stake:  Baptist minister Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the national Interfaith Alliance supports his efforts.

Of course, the road to repeal won’t be easy: Republican Governor Bobby Jindal opposes any repeal of Louisiana’s Medieval future according to the Associated Press. He likes the Middle Ages; he wants Louisiana to stay there.

List of state bills sponsoring the destruction of science here.

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