Anti-evolutionists who campaign for office have learned to camouflage their distaste for Darwin during the last few election cycles. Although their plumage has evolved and their calls can vary, anti-evolutionist scat shows that their basic physiological processes remain unchanged. This scat tends to blend easily into the background, often becoming odiferous only after the candidate has been elected to office.
Briefly, here are some identifying characteristics of Anti-evolutionistii stealthus:
a. Local control
b. Teaching more about evolution, not less, or push to augment/modify the state curriculum; critical analysis/developing critical thinking skills
c. Academic Freedom/Academic Bill of Rights for K12 students/teachers
d. Treating “origins science” differently than other science topics
2. Social behavior: are Young-Earth Creationists, or will not give an opinion as to the age of the earth
3. Camouflage: They try to hide or downplay their association with anti-evolution groups
4. Avoidance behavior: Some will avoid public forums or press interviews.
Read on to learn more about identifying details for each characteristic.
These candidates will often not specify exactly what items need to be placed under local control, nor do they demonstrate that local boards don’t already have this control. During the 2000 KS school board race, one of the ringleaders of the 1999 creationism debacle had this to say:
“My question is, ‘So, what’s wrong with local control?’” she said.
More recently, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed the Louisiana Science Education Act into law in late June of this year with this comment:
They’re taking their cues from on high:
Granted there’s nothing stealthy about that comment, but it shows that using the phrase “local control” can be a clue that a candidate would support the Discovery Institute’s mantra of “teach the controversy.” Republican strategist Ralph Reed described in May of 2007 how Republican candidates are advised to approach the evolution issue:
“But we also think that, as a matter of academic freedom and local control, that, if a — if a school or a teacher decides to present an alternative viewpoint, from a scientific standpoint, not teaching the Bible — that’s for religion class — but presenting some scientific evidence of an alternative view of human origins, what’s wrong with that? Let them be exposed to it. Let them come to their own conclusions.”
Which brings us to:
1b. Calls to teach more about evolution, not less, or push to augment/modify the state curriculum; citing critical analysis/developing critical thinking skills
Many of these folks state that they only want to teach more about evolution, that they want to enhance or supplement science education, not diminish it. They emphasize “teaching critical analysis” or “developing the students’ critical thinking skills,” but they haven’t shown why they’re limiting that development to science classes and to evolution in particular. Lately, evolution has been joined by global warming, stem cell research, and human cloning as the only topics worthy of critical analysis within the entire high school curriculum.
During the past year, the Discovery Institute has instigated the introduction of various “Academic Freedom
From Learning” acts in state legislatures across the country. Spokesman Casey Luskin opined:
Don Covington has been the vice president of networking with Intelligent Design Network with an office in Johnson County. He also stated in September of 2004
From current Kansas State Board member Kathy Martin’s website:
Some of us remember Connie Morris’ 2006 newsletter in which she asserted:
1c. Academic Freedom/Academic Bill of Rights for K12 students/teachers
This most recent ploy from the Discovery Institute will enable teachers to “augment” science instruction by teaching intelligent design and using Creationist teaching materials. Although the bills explicitly deny that religion is to be taught, the DI and its supporters have maintained all along that ID is scientific, not religious, and thus belongs in a science classroom. The Discovery Institute has provided a template for legislation, propaganda in the form of giving legislators free passes to Expelled, and advice from their staff.
1d. Singling out so-called “origins science” for special treatment.
Creationist Kansas state board of education member John Bacon told Science magazine in 2006:
The Kansas Republican Assembly also indicates that the science curriculum should be determined by popularity. We also see in Bacon’s statement the vestigial Creationist scam of “theory not fact,” where the candidate deliberately conflates the scientific meaning of the word “theory” with the popular perception that a theory is nothing more than a hunch or a guess.
Anti-evolutionists adhere to an artificial separation of operational science from origin science. They believe that if a human didn’t witness an event, it didn’t happen. “Were you theeeere?” is a favorite tagline of Creationist leader Ken Ham. You have to wonder if the anti-evolutionists are familiar with forensic science or criminal trials, or if they’ve heard of CSI — the TV series, that is. If they were on a jury for a trial in which the defendant had the means, motive, and opportunity to murder the victim, with reams of incriminating circumstantial evidence presented, but no eyewitnesses or confession . . . would they be able to find the defendant guilty?
2. Social behavior: Are Young-Earth Creationists, or will not give an opinion as to the age of the earth
Sometimes accompanied by, ” . . . but it doesn’t matter because I don’t want my beliefs taught in the science classroom.” Young-Earth Creationists include Connie Morris, John Bacon, Ken Willard, Kathy Martin, Steve Abrams, Barney Maddox, and Florida legislator/backer of “Academic Freedom
From Learning Act” Ronda Storm. Most of the folks who gave testimonials in favor of teaching the “controversy” or “criticisms of evolution” at the May 2005 Topeka ID hearings either stated their belief in a ~10,000-year-old Earth or they refused to give an answer.
Let’s make it very clear that Jeremy & I both agree that holding a personal belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis does not disqualify a person from public service. We should also make it clear that we will not support efforts to weaken REAL science education in Kansas. The John Freshwater case is a clear example of a Creationist teacher forcing his beliefs onto students and even into their skins. With 1 of 8 high school biology teachers endorsing creationism or intelligent design in the classroom, it is obvious that voters must be aware of Creationist teachers pushing personal beliefs onto everyone’s children.
3. Camouflage: They try to hide or downplay their association with anti-evolution groups
During the 1999 creationism debacle, state board of education members Steve Abrams, Scott Hill and Harold Voth presented a set of standards they claimed to have authored. However, Jack Krebs provided solid evidence that the document had actually been written by Tom Willis, head of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America.
In July of 2006 Connie Morris personally delivered thousands of expensive, glossy inserts to at least two newspaper offices in her district a couple of weeks before her defeat in the primary. The publishers of the Hays and Liberal newspapers confirmed that the inserts were paid for by the Intelligent Design Network of Kansas, Inc., but the inserts didn’t refer to that fact in any way.
The Discovery Institute tried a reverse-camouflage effect in July of 2006 when they launched a barrage of PR in Kansas touting the ID-friendly science standards in place at that time. This Seattle-based public relations outfit made a point of stating that they weren’t trying to influence the elections which were four weeks away, although their efforts at “educating the voters” halted after the August election results indicated that their pet standards would soon be replaced. Apparently they didn’t think Kansans were intelligent enough to see through their designs.
4. Avoidance behavior: Some will avoid public forums and press interviews.
Kris Van Meteren (KRA leader and PR guru) had his mother Iris Van Meter use this strategy effectively during the 2002 state school board elections. Van Meter turned down invitations to candidate forums, wouldn’t give interviews, and pretty much stayed in hiding during the entire campaign. Two weeks before the election, a glossy, nicely-produced brochure went out to her district maligning her opponent Val DeFever as a supporter of atheism.
The Lawrence Journal-World noted the Van Meter/Van Meteren antics and the 2006 stealth attempt by Jesse Hall to defeat Janet Waugh:
She then became a key vote in the 6-4 majority on the state education board that has attacked evolution, changed the availability of sex education and hired a critic of public schools as education commissioner . . . [Candidate Jesse] Hall hasn’t appeared at any candidate forums and is backed by individuals associated with the religious right, [pro-science incumbent Janet] Waugh said.
“I have attended quite a few meetings, and I haven’t seen him yet,” Waugh said.
An email sent out across the state just before the 2006 primary — even forwarded by some ministers to their congregations — left little doubt that Hall was the anti-evolutionist’s chosen candidate:
“If we can win all five seats, creating a 7-3 conservative majority in spite of all the media and academia against us, then the liberals and evolutionists would learn the undeniable message that they can no longer get away with cramming evolutionism down ours and our neighbors kids’ throats!” she wrote.
Barney Maddox was a Creationist dentist in Texas who ran for the Texas state school board. Although he was comfortable calling Darwin’s work a bunch of “pre-Civil War fairy tales” for the Institute for Creation Research, he also declined all media interviews.
Of course, no one of these indicators infallibly labels a candidate as a member of the Anti-evolutionistii stealthus species. But keep your eyes open, and ask your candidate these questions:
>Do you support the current Kansas science standards?
Would you support an academic freedom bill such as the one recently enacted in Louisiana?
How old is the earth, and what leads you to that conclusion?
How should “local control” influence science curriculum issues?
. . . and don’t let them get away with lulling Kansans into a false sense of security.
[edited to add links - csa]