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Montana science education proposal draws criticism about evolution

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 10:28 am

HELENA, Mont. – A lawmaker's proposal protecting “alternative viewpoints” during the teaching of evolution and science in schools came under fire Friday from opponents who argued it would pave the way for teaching of creationism.

Rep. Clayton Fiscus, R-Billings, said evolution isn't settled science and called it a “monumental leap” to believe it is true. His bill would allow teachers – if they want – to address perceived weaknesses in evolution studies in the classroom.

“This is just a bill to instruct what we have presently in the science on the origins of life,” Fiscus said. “We should teach what we do know. We should also teach what we don't know.”

The House Education Committee didn't take immediate action.

The bill says it does not promote the teaching of religious doctrine and “only protects the teaching of scientific information.”

An early draft version of the bill sought to teach “intelligent design,” but the suggestion was dropped during the drafting process.

Critics said the measure is a backdoor effort to get religion into classrooms.

“It seemed to me it was deliberately written to be obtuse,” said Stan Frasier of Helena. “The Sunday schools are the place for teaching religious fairy tales, not our public schools.”