Professing belief in creationism (or rejection of evolution) is becoming a litmus test for Republican candidates for office. Do you remember the 2007 Republican presidential debates, when the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they didn’t accept evolution? Here’s the clip showing the three out of eleven who raise their hands, effectively swearing that they’re either idiots or lying panderers. At least John McCain had the guts to affirm that he accepted evolution.
But it’s getting worse. From the Houston Chronicle we get this bit of depressing—but unsurprising—news about evolution. All four Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor have come out in favor of teaching creationism in the public schools. And this after Texas has just rejected any incursion of creationism into public-school textbooks! I’m told that in Texas, unlike other states, the lieutenant governor has extraordinary power, but I haven’t checked this out.
You can see the debate here, which includes other issues, but the Chronicle has handily summarized the candidates’ answers to the question posed by Texas Public Radio:
Does creationism belong in schools? Would you like to see creationism in textbooks?
The answers. Prepare to weep (my emphases):
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson: Creationism, intelligent design, evolution should be taught in school. Our students should be armed with knowledge about creationism, intelligent design, evolution. Let the parents and ministers decide what should prevail in child’s life. … Comparative religion – kids ought to learn about other religions. So they feel more comfortable with their own. … Should be tolerant.
Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples: Don’t need to apologize for being a Christian. Creationism can be taught in our schools. It is something most Texans believe in. … Pay good teachers more. Lt. Gov Dewhurst is the first lieutenant governor to have a personal security detail. … We should expose kids to creationism. … We have many needs in our schools. We should end culture of teaching to the test. … Shouldn’t just throw money at education. To Dewhurst, he said: Your loss to Ted Cruz says you’re out of touch.
State Sen. Dan Patrick: We teach kids in church on Sunday about Jesus. On school, on Monday, they can’t talk about Jesus. They must be confused. We have yielded to secular left. I believe we’ve been blessed by God as a nation. When it comes to creationism, not only should it be taught, it should be triumphed, it should be heralded. Brought Christmas back into school; tired of “winter holidays.” … We have a crisis in our inner-city with dropout rates. We must have school choice. It is the hub of the wheel. We have no future in Texas if we don’t have an educated workforce. School choice would improve inner-city education.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: I believe in creationism but I understand it alone cannot be taught. And I am fine with teaching creationism, intelligent design, evolution. Let students, with advice and counsel, decide for themselves which one they believe in. All three should be taught. As far as public education system, I am proud of improving public education over the years. Proud of passing a landmark school finance bill in 2006 – we put a record amount of new funds in. … I want to see merit pay. … Intelligent design, creationism and evolution should all be taught. We reduced teaching to the test.
In other words, since teaching creationism—whether Biblical or in the form of intelligent design—is illegal everywhere it has been contested in the U.S., all four candidates are advocating that their state violate our Constitution. Come on, Texas, why do you breed people like this?
The proper answer, even if you are a creationist, is “Well, I personally believe in creationism, but I also believe in good science, and the courts have declared that teaching religious theories of origins in the public schools is illegal. I believe in enforcing the law, not my personal religious beliefs.” But you won’t see these panderers saying that.
The Four Stooges: