Republican state lawmaker pushes for debates on creationism, evolution in Colorado schools

Same representative also proposed abortion ban

DENVER - The same state representative who sponsored a short-lived proposal to ban abortions in Colorado backed another cleverly worded controversial legislative proposal.

The bill would have encouraged schools and colleges to have debates about creationism, evolution, and global warming. It calls on public schools and colleges to create an environment for students to encourage scientific questioning and be able to respond respectfully to differences of opinion on "controversial issues" in science education.

The proposal was defeated Monday in the House Education Committee.

The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education opposed the bill, saying it would "muddy the waters" of science education.

Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey says his goal was to open scientific debate, not dictate discussion on religious teachings.

If it became law, the state would have been required to help teachers "review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories."

Humphrey, a self-described conservative from Weld County, is listed as the primary House sponsor of House Bill 13-1089. The primary sponsor in the Senate is Republican Scott Renfroe, the same senator Humphrey said he was teaming up with on the bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions. Renfroe's name still hasn't been added to that bill.

Both the education and the abortion bill avoided any mention of religion. In fact, the education proposal's approach toward bringing the creationism debate into schools is religious and scientific neutrality.

"This article must not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion," bill 13-1089 says.

Humphrey is scheduled to get a hearing and a vote Monday on the education bill in the House Education committee. A committee vote on the abortion ban is scheduled for Tuesday.

Both pieces of legislation are likely to fail in the Democratic-led legislature.

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