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Indiana Senate Bill 89

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Teaching of creation science. Provides that the governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.
—Official synopsis of the bill.[1]

Indiana Senate Bill 89 was a creationist bill that managed to pass the Senate of Indiana in the second regular session of the 117th general assembly, although it did not pass the House. It was just one of a number of pro-creationism bills in American legislatures in 2012. If passed into law, it would have been effective July 1, 2012.[1]


The original bill would simply add a section to the relevant law:

18. The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.[1]

This would attempt to legitimise Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District-style school board sanctioning of the teaching of creationism in public schools. However, this was amended on the 30th of January to read instead:

18. The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.[2]

In other words, an 'equal time' bill of the kind declared unconstitutional in Edwards v. Aguillard, but with other religious myths included in the vain hope of avoiding the same fate. Additionally, the amendment shows that the bill's supporters misunderstand both evolution – which is not the same thing as the "origin of life" – and the word "theory."[3]

Analysis and criticism[edit]

According to NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott "The obvious problem...is that the Indiana legislature can't authorize a school district to violate the Constitution."[4] Even if this bill passed, the action that it allows could still be taken to court to be struck down as before.

An editorial in an Indiana newspaper bemoaned the General Assembly's habit of debating stupid bills,[5] noting a number of other weird pieces of legislation up for contention this year, including:

  • "A bill to eliminate Indiana high school class basketball."
  • "A bill that makes it legal to manufacture or possess a switchblade."

You can see what they mean.


Against constitutionality-based protests, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development on January 25, by a vote of 8-2.[6][7] As noted above, the bill was amended in the Senate on January 30. The amendment was proposed by Democratic State Senator Vi Simpson,[2][8] in a deliberate attempt at sabotage.[9] Nevertheless, the bill successfully passed the Senate[10] with the apparently oblivious support of its original authors.

The Speaker of the House, Republican Brian Bosma.Wikipedia was apparently reluctant to let the bill travel any further, and it was moved to the "rules committe," where it will almost certainly die.[11] Otherwise, it has until March 5 to escape and be passed.

See also[edit]