Tennessee Bill Encourages Critiques of Evolution
It protects teachers who debate the issue in classrooms
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 22, 2012 5:32 PM CDT
Teachers would be free to allow debates on evolution under a Tennessee bill.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A bill in Tennessee's legislature would protect teachers who encourage debate in the classroom about evolution—a measure that opponents say is just a guise to teach creationism or intelligent design, reports the Tennessean. Top science groups and the ACLU have come out against the bill, which the state Senate approved, 24-8; it now heads to the state House. "The idea behind this bill is that students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory," says GOP sponsor Rep. Bo Watson.

Watson points out that the bill bars teachers from sharing their religious views and says it wouldn't affect state curriculum covering evolution. He says the idea is to allow teachers to respond to kids' questions in light of their own beliefs. Still, some call the bill a dangerous reminder of the state's legendary Scopes Monkey Trial regarding evolution, the Tennessean notes. "We’re simply dredging up the problems of our past with this bill that will affect our future," says a Democratic state senator.