The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 18, 2009

Monuments, evolution bills divert attention from issues

Two measures on the table at the Oklahoma legislature -- one defeated and one not yet up for a vote -- are diverting attention from the real business of government.

The state could be short as much as $600 million to $900 million in revenue and some lawmakers are busying themselves worrying about teaching intelligent design and building Ten Commandments memorials on the Capitol grounds.

The first measure would have allowed classroom discussion of alternative theories to evolution and allow students to refuse to answer test questions because they didn't believe what was being taught.

Now, there's a new excuse for doing poorly in school. Non belief of subject matter. Senate Education Committee chairman James Halligan, R-Stillwater, who is a former president of Oklahoma State University, voted against the evolution bill because of that provision. It failed in committee, 7-6.

Another bill under discussion is legislation allowing the Ten Commandments to be put in a monument on the Capitol grounds.

Lawmakers are treading dangerously close to blurring the lines between church and state. How about leaving preaching to the churches and teaching to the teachers. Religious intolerance is one of the reasons our ancestors came here in the first place.

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