Don McLeroy’s ‘Shocking’ Amendment

In TFN News Clips (subscribe here) last week, we included a piece from the Christian Science Monitor about efforts by creationists to pass so-called “academic freedom” bills in various states. The bills provide legal support for teachers who challenge evolution with creationist arguments in their public school science classrooms. Texas has no such law (yet).

In any case, we failed to note a choice quote from Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station. The story explained that during the board’s debate on new science standards in January, McLeroy succeeded in passing a particular anti-evolution amendment to the draft document.

“That shocked a lot of people,” says the chairman, Don McLeroy, a self-identified “young earth creationist.” But Mr. McLeroy insists such efforts are well within the law. “It’s certainly not a religious standard…. People are probably opposed to [the new language] for ideological reasons.”

Well, it’s certainly true that people were shocked — shocked that a majority of state board members had somehow accepted the pseudoscientific babble the good dentist offered as arguments for the amendment. (For more on those arguments, see an earlier post here.) Interestingly, McLeroy had declined a request from some board members to have scientists in the audience explain the implications of his and other amendments being offered. Scientists were appalled, as the Houston Chronicle noted:

Also added to the proposed standards by board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, is an amendment that directs science teachers and students to “describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.”

They are asking students to explain something that does not exist, said David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner.

“This new proposed language is absurd. It shows very clearly why the board should not be rewriting the science standards, especially when they introduce new language that has not even been reviewed by a single science expert,” Hillis said.

But the real howler is the second part of McLeroy’s quote:

“It’s certainly not a religious standard…. People are probably opposed to [the new language] for ideological reasons.”

Oh, do tell. Physician, heal thyself.

The board will take a final vote on the standards in March. Let state board members know that you want them to support a 21st-century science education for Texas kids. Find out how here.

6 thoughts on “Don McLeroy’s ‘Shocking’ Amendment

  1. Sorry—let me clean that last post up with some editing:

    It is obvious that Mr. McLeroy is pursuing a purely ideological agenda cloaked in “sufficiency vs. insufficiency” deceit. In my childhood Sunday school classroom back in 1965, we had a word for that kind of deceit. You do not see that word very much these days because public relations specialists and spin doctors have nearly erased it from the public consciousness. That word is “lying.” To pretend to be doing one thing while you are really doing another thing instead is “lying.” To take that approach in a public-governmental context, hurting the science education of Texas school children by teaching them information that the scientific community knows to be inaccurate, is what my King James Bible calls, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” This is not just speaking or conniving to deceive your neighbor about your intentions. It is doing that deceit in a way that is sure to hurt your neighbor—in this case the proper education of school children. It is my sincere hope that intelligent and responsible Christians all across the state of Texas will recognize this closet ruse for what it is and also recognize that such deceit is not the hallmark of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Cleverly contrived deceit is the hallmark of another famous Biblical figure. Those who follow him often do so without even realizing that this is what they are doing. Indeed, they may even feel that they are acting righteously and supporting the Lord with their actions. The Apostle Paul was doing this when he was the chief persecutor of the early Christian church in Jerusalem. He was absolutely convinced that he was doing the will and works of God by delivering Christians in chains to the temple authorities for punishment. His dead right turned out to be dead wrong.

    Therefore, as a fellow Christian, I would urge all the people of Texas to abandon this Creationist/ID/Teach the Controversy folly perpetrated by the Texas School Board and stand on the side of sound evolutionary science in Texas school classrooms. Evolution happened. Most of the major Christian and Jewish religious denominations around the world agree on the factualism of evolution. They also agree that all truth is God’s truth, which means that evolution is God’s truth as well.

    I do not live in Texas, but I have been to Texas many times and have worked in Texas, primarly up in the Amarillo area. Texans are smart people and good people. I would beg you to please avoid the mistake made by the state where I was born many years ago and the state left behind many years ago by many of your emigrating ancestors. I speak of Tennessee. T for Texas. T for Tennessee—and so it is and ever will be.

    In the early part of the 20th century, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that basically prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools. That culminated in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. The state won that trial in court, but it simultaneously lost everything in the court of public opinion. Tennessee became the laughingstock of the whole world for most of an entire century. Despite that fact, the state of Tennessee kept the anti-evolution law on the books until 1968—but never really did anything else with it. It just sat there and gathered mold. In 1972, Tennessee was still reaping scorn from all over the world from the Scopes Monkey Trial. That was the year that Alistair Cook’s famous series of T.V. documentaries on Amerian history, entitled simply “America,” were aired in successive weeks in prime time on CBS. The series was afterwords put on videotape and is available in public libraries for checkout to this very day. In one episode, while discussing the history of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Mr. Cook remarks that the great state of Tennessee waited until 1968 before it saw fit to finally admit that man is a mammal and remove the anti-evolution law from the books. More scorn for the hillbillies on prime time T.V. In the years since that time, Tennessee has seen fit to incorporate evolution into its statewide standards for science teaching. However, Tennesseans are still reaping the whirlwind from that trial in 1925. Therefore, I would very much encourage my friends in Texas to avoid creating its own version of this regretful folly that the state of my birth has to this day never been able to live down. Be smarter than we were Texas. Be wiser than we were Texas. God bless Texas.

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  2. It’s “Cafeteria Christian” Charles again.

    Charles said,
    –That word is “lying.”–

    When a Darwinist public commenter used that word at a hearing of the Texas Board of Education, Chairman Don McLeroy interrupted her, saying, “We don’t say that word here. You can’t say that word.” See —
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/01/incredible-darwinist-bigotry.html

    –Therefore, as a fellow Christian, I would urge all the people of Texas to abandon this Creationist/ID/Teach the Controversy folly–

    Fat chance.

    –Evolution happened. —

    There is only some evidence that evolution happened. And we don’t know how it happened if it did happen.

    –Tennessee became the laughingstock of the whole world for most of an entire century.–

    How is that? I have not heard that before.

    –the state of Tennessee kept the anti-evolution law on the books until 1968–

    Tennessee repealed the anti-evolution law in 1967 — it would have been struck down by Epperson v. Arkansas in 1968 if it had stayed on the books. The full story is here —
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/06/herr-fuhrer-esley-welsberrys-big-lie.html

    Also, that is Alistair Cooke, not Cook.

  3. Well, it appears that Larry finally has some wounds with salt in them, and he sees me as the object of his pain—along with everyone else here at TFN.

    I will tell you what your real problem is Larry. My guess would be that you are maybe only a decade or a little more older than me. When people get to be our age, they tend to notice that the world and worldview that they cherished and thought was unchangeable in their youth are fast disappearing. The traditions and prejudices passed on to them by their parents and the culture of their youth have been breaking down as the bubbling cauldron of history and cultural dynamics surges all around them. It creates internal alarm—an alarm that compells one to go out and try with all of their might to rescue it—to save the world of their youth—to save mom and dad’s little world. I saw it in my parents, uncles, and aunts as they entered their 60s and 70s, especially the utter devastation that they suffered emotionally when they realized that the civil rights movement of the 1960s had turned their world on its ear. I have seen it in myself as I grow ever older.

    It is doubtful that most efforts designed to turn back the clock and throttle the engine of superorganic cultural dyanmics will be successful. The truth of the matter is that we will die, and people with their own ideas about “how things should be” will take over. Those ideas will be a unique reflection of the times and conditions of the future. Their world will be just as different from yours and mine as the difference between our world and that of our parents. Although I am no prophet, I would predict that the efforts of the Religious Right and Christian fundamentalists in our time are doomed to ultimate and final failure within the next 50-75 years.

  4. Charles said,
    –I will tell you what your real problem is Larry. My guess would be that you are maybe only a decade or a little more older than me. When people get to be our age, they tend to notice that the world and worldview that they cherished and thought was unchangeable in their youth are fast disappearing. —

    Charles, what is the matter with you — how can you make claims or even guesses about things about which you know nothing. Before the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, I had little or no interest in the evolution controversy — now I have a blog with hundreds of articles about the controversy — see
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/

    — Although I am no prophet, I would predict that the efforts of the Religious Right and Christian fundamentalists in our time are doomed to ultimate and final failure within the next 50-75 years. —

    You contradict yourself in the same sentence — you say you are no prophet, then you make a wild prediction.

  5. It doesn’t matter if Ratliff is a closet creationist or if Don McLeroy is a closet atheist or any such personal position. What matters is what they do in office. We already know what McLeroy does and we don’t need any more of that.

  6. One of the great obstacles to progress is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.
    – Daniel Boorstin

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