New Law Says Creationism Is A-OK in Tennessee Public Schools

2012's Make America Magic campaign is going strong in Tennessee where, earlier this week, a bill permitting public school discussion of creationism alongside evolutionary-based explanations for the origins of life became law.

Republican Governor Bill Haslam had initially planned to sign the bill, but backed down when he received a 3,000-signature petition against the proposed legislation. It was able to become law without his signature, though (and could have gone through even if he'd vetoed it, thanks to a legislative simple majority), so everybody wins in the end.

Governor Haslam sort of but not really defended the bill on Tuesday, saying:

"I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum. I also don't believe that it accomplishes anything."

Senate Bill 893 requires teachers to permit a discussion of "alternative theories" to issues like evolution and climate change in their classrooms. While educators are not allowed to raise the topic of these alternative theories themselves, they must explore them if a student brings them up, meanings kids all over Tennessee have a new way to stall classroom time indefinitely.

The bill also states that teachers cannot be punished for "helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories."

Eighty-seven years ago, schoolteacher John Scopes was punished for teaching evolution in a public high school. That was in Tennessee too, which gives this whole monkey business a nice symmetry.

Said Jerry Winters, the director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association, to Reuters:

"With all the emphasis now on science, math and technology, this seems like a real step backwards."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Tennessee teachers union opposed this delicious blended Frappuccino of church and state.

Tennessee is the second state, after Louisiana, to adopt such a law.

[Image via Getty]