The Arkansas legislature passes a bill that will require public schools to give "balanced treatment" to both evolution and scientific creationism. According to Act 590, this balanced treatment must include lectures, texts, and other reading material.
Public schools aren't required to teach evolution or creationism, but if they teach one they must teach both. Somehow, though, they are to teach creation science without "any references to religious writings."
The law is sponsored by Jim Holsted, a Democrat who objects to the fact that "public schools generally censor creation science and evidence contrary to evolution." Holsted denies that it's about religion:
"Just because you introduce the concept of a creator doesn't mean you ahve to refer specifically to God or religion."
Holsted has admitted, though, that the bill is based on a model bill from Rev. W.A. Blount of a nondenominational church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Blount, in turn, has been trying to get creation science taught in public schools for 20 years:
"Evolution cannot be proven in any way. This bill will simply give an open field of thought to the student. Evolution is a shopworn, unproven theory."
Representative Lloyd George, a Democrat on the Education Committee who has taught both biology and physics, calls the bill ridiculous:
"It's the state meddling where it shouldn't. Teachers are not qualified to give equal time to teaching the theory according to Genesis."
Representative Mike Wilson of Jacksonville opposes the bill and says:
''As a lawyer, I will tell you the courts will hold this bill unconstitutional as quickly as it gets to court. Never before, to my memory, has the legislature mandated a religious theory to be taught in schools. ''
He's right; it will be struck down by Judge William Overton in the case Mclean v. Arkansas. Overton will write in his decision:
"The approach to teaching "creation science" and "evolution- science" found in Act 590 is identical to the two-model approach espoused by the Institute for Creation Research and is taken almost verbatim from ICR writings. It is an extension of Fundamentalists' view that one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution."