Anti-Evolution Bills Are Defeated In Missouri

Two proposed pieces of legislation—including one that would have required school districts to allow parents to have their children excused from learning about evolution—were left to die in committee when the Missouri state legislature adjourned.

The news comes as a relief to educators who said the legislation would have "eviscerated the teaching of biology" in Missouri.

The two bills that never made it to a floor vote were House Bill 1472, sponsored by Rep. Rick Brattin (R, 55th District) and House Bill 1587, sponsored Rep. Andrew Koenig (R, 99th District).

Brattin's bill, stated:

Any school district or charter school which provides instruction relating to the theory of evolution by natural selection shall be required to have a policy on parental notification and a mechanism where a parent can choose to remove the student from any part of the district's or school's instruction on evolution.

Anti-Evolution Bills Are Defeated In Missouri

Brattin, who has a long history of sponsoring such legislation, recently said in an interview with the Kansas City Star that forcing students to study evolution is an "absolute infringement on people's beliefs." Brattin also told of emails sent to him about kids ridiculed at school for not believing the material being taught. "Even though what's being taught is just as much faith and, you know, just as much pulled out of the air as, say, any religion," he said.

And, although evolution by natural selection is the unifying principle in the study of biology, Brattin claims that he is not anti-science. "What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching. It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life."

Meanwhile, Koenig's bill would have effectively deprived administrators of the ability to prevent teachers from misinforming students about "scientific controversies," specifically citing "the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution" as controversial. Koenig has claimed that his legislation stresses academic freedom: "It's really up to the school district, and if evolution is gonna be taught, it just allows them to teach the scientific strengths and weaknesses."

Earlier this year, the kerfuffle over the Missouri legislation caught the attention of The Daily Show. So, here is "Your Moment of Zen" before the whole thing starts up again next year.