INDIANAPOLIS | In addition to learning the scientific origins of life, Hoosier public school students soon may be taught life was created by God, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, the human mind and/or Xenu, dictator of the Galactic Confederacy.
The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 28-22 to allow school corporations to teach "various theories of the origin of life."
Senate Bill 89 requires a school choosing to teach creationism to use multiple religious perspectives and suggests, but does not require, teaching the beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
The sponsor, state Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said not everyone believes in evolution, so students should be exposed to as many competing ideas as possible.
State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, invoked the nation's founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution to say government should not be endorsing religious beliefs.
"In my mind, this violates everything we stand for as Americans," Tallian said. "The very fact that we're talking about this makes me heartsick."
State Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said any school corporation that teaches the religious origins of life is just asking for a lawsuit, and local taxpayers will be stuck footing the bill.
The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced last week the legislation almost certainly violates U.S. Supreme Court rulings that creationism has no place in public schools.
Kruse said the Supreme Court's justices have changed since those rulings, and this legislation could be a new test case.
The measure now advances to the Republican-controlled House.
Two Northwest Indiana lawmakers voted for the proposal — state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and state Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield. The other six region senators voted no.