South Dakota Coalition of Reason is proud to announce that on Friday, Feb 6th 2015 we will be gathering in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre, SD. Members of South Dakota CoR will be in the Capitol to show their opposition to Senate Bill 114 and to discuss other legislation regarding science education, LGBT discrimination, abortion rights, and church state separation.
South Dakota CoR is an umbrella group of seven atheist, skeptic, humanist, and freethought groups in South Dakota: Siouxland Freethinkers from Sioux Falls, Black Hills Freethinkers from Rapid City, Brookings Freethinkers, and four Secular Student Alliance groups from public universities throughout the state.
Senate Bill 114 is model legislation drafted by the Intelligent Design Creationism proponents at Discovery Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Seattle, Washington. Discovery Institute sells Intelligent Design Creationism curricula for public schools, private schools, home schools, and church groups. Following Discovery Institute’s model legislation, SB 114 encourages teachers and school boards to adopt curriculum which discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, abiogenesis, climate change, and other scientific topics that “may cause debate and disputation”.
This proposed legislation opens the door for science teachers and school boards to allow Intelligent Design Creationism to be taught in South Dakota’s public schools, which is unconstitutional. In the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguillard the United States Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in public schools was an unconstitutional violation of church state separation. In 2004 federal courts ruled in Kitzmiller v. Dover that Intelligent Design was another form of creationism and it was also unconstitutional to be taught in public schools.
In addition to science education, South Dakota CoR is concerned about currently proposed legislation that erodes secular rights. House Bills 1130 and 1156 further restrict access a woman’s access to abortion care. House Bill 1161 would take away the ability of the South Dakota High School Athletic Association to allow transgender athletes to participate in sports based on their gender. These bills allow legislators to use their privately held religious beliefs to strip away the dignity and personal autonomy of South Dakotans.
Previous legislative sessions have proposed bills that promote religiously based discrimination, delegitimize science education, and would have endangered public safety:
Numerous bills were proposed in 2014 that would have expanded discrimination against LGBT South Dakotans: HB 1251, SB 66, SB 67, and SB 128 would have granted broad authority to individuals and business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community under the guise of “religious liberty”.
Previous legislatures have mandated medically unnecessary 72 hour delays for women to choose an abortion, mandated anti-abortion counseling from a Christian ministry, and numerous other limitations that erode women’s right to safely obtain constitutionally protected and medically safe abortions in South Dakota.
In 2014, SB 112 would have unconstitutionally allowed teachers to provide instruction on Intelligent Design Creationism. In 2012, HB 1175 would have expanded exemptions to vaccines for people who prefered “holistic health care”. In 2010, HCR 1009 encouraged schools to provide “balanced” instruction on climate change based on the ancient pseudoscience of astrology. These bills would have been detrimental to science education and public safety.
South Dakota CoR is going to the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre to engage in positive dialogue with elected officials. Secular legislation protects the rights and religious liberties of all South Dakotans, while promoting public safety and encouraging sound science education in our public schools.
President, Siouxland Freethinkers
State Director, American Atheists
Media Representative, South Dakota CoR