House advances different version of evolution bill
The House moved forward its own version of the "evolution academic freedom" act today, taking the Senate's bill number and striking all the Senate language in favor of its own. Sponsor Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, accepted an amendment from Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, changing the language from requiring a "critical analysis" of evolution to require a "thorough presentation and scientific critical analysis" of the theory of evolution.
Kiar had argued that the bill as originally presented would have been unconstitutional, because it would mandate the introduction of all points critical of evolution, including religious points. He and others argued over and again that religion belongs in the place of worship, not in a classroom.
The debate was spirited, much along the same lines as that in the Senate. Hays ended by asking critics, "Why are you so afraid of scientific scrutiny if you're so confident in your theory?" He rejected the talk of pushing religion into schools as "hot air."
"This does not allow for religious teaching in the classroom. Again, ladies and gentlemen, it's about academic freedom," Hays said. The bill moved ahead to third reading, which cannot be amended. Key senators have indicated they did not expect to take up the measure again if it drastically differs from their already approved bill.