Letters to the Editor: March 11, 2014 

It passed the House Education Committee last year but failed to be heard on the floor of the House. It can still be heard on the House floor this year. The bill promotes dishonest anti-science claims and would allow objectively false, unscientific materials to be presented in public school science classes.

It was copied, almost verbatim, from a model bill floated annually by the Discovery Institute, a creationist organization. The bill claims teaching certain scientific subjects, notably biological evolution, can cause controversy and that the “strengths and weaknesses” of these scientific subjects should be taught. There is no controversy in the scientific community regarding the central tenants of evolution.

On the other hand, there are no facts having survived skeptical scrutiny supporting intelligent design or creationism. More importantly, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have ruled that intelligent design and creationism are religion and cannot be taught in public school science classes. This seems fairly straightforward. Such efforts have a perfect history of failing in court. This bill does not promote academic freedom or critical thinking. Let’s not do this to Oklahoma.

— David Grow

Equality can’t be illegal
As a gay Oklahoman born in the very rural Southeastern corner of our state, I have too often experienced discriminatory practices based on “religious” ideology, including teachers in my high school who shunned me after coming out and managers in past workplaces who blatantly treated myself and other LGBTQ coworkers poorly because of their own bigotry.

Given this, I am not shocked by Rep. Tom Newell’s (R-District 28, Seminole) bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community under the guise of “religious liberty,” though I am saddened.

Politicians like Newell and Gov. Mary Fallin claim to champion “Oklahoma values,” but their values are not the values of my very Oklahoman family.

For instance, my maternal grandmother, a devout Christian and secretary for her church, has always told me that God loves all people and it is not the place of her or anyone else to contradict that.

My father and mother, respectively a building contractor and former teacher, instilled in me a strong sense of social justice, teaching me that all people are equal and deserve respect and compassion.

I am fortunate enough to know numerous parents in Oklahoma who teach their children that as well, even if some do still wrestle their conservative upbringing. Ultimately, it will be the younger generations that drag people like Fallin, Rep. James Lankford (R-District 5) and Newell out of their antiquated mindsets.

— Alan Haberman

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