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Thank those who kept Idaho part of round Earth

Jim Fisher
January 9, 2006
Lewiston Morning Tribune

News that a reconstituted school board in Dover, Pa., has rescinded the policy that science students be instructed to consider evolution a suspect teaching brings to mind a cheerful thought:

Idaho has thus far been spared the national embarrassment the former board visited on Dover and a state board of education has invited to Kansas.

There are many people to thank for that -- and many not to.

Among the latter is University of Idaho Agriculture College professor Scott Minnich, who testified in favor of the former Dover board's position before a trial judge who threw it out. Then there's U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, who as a House member 16 years ago co-sponsored a constitutional amendment, the "Community Life Amendment," to authorize teaching "the creation of the earth as accepted in Judeo-Christian tradition."

And who can forget former state school Superintendent Anne Fox, whose support of instruction in what was then called "creation science" was matched by her belief in UFOs?

Fortunately, these, and other, creationism champions never got their flat Earth in the schoolhouse door, thanks to other Idahoans with greater power as well as enlightenment.

Minnich was refuted, for example, by none other than his university president. Some wondered why Tim White would go out of his way to direct that evolution would remain the fundamental concept in UI science classes until Minnich made national news in the Pennsylvania courtroom. White's directive proved a potent inoculation against any assumption that Minnich spoke for his school, or his state.

Craig's amendment didn't go far, perhaps because it was introduced prematurely. The Republican Class of 1994 may well have grabbed it and run with it. But then, it failed to make much stir in Idaho at the time, either.

Fox's insistence on including creationism in science standards was outvoted by the commission appointed to rewrite Idaho's high school graduation standards. As commission member Bill Griffith, former CEO of Hecla Mining Co., put it at the time, "Since this is the science standard, it has to be based on what science thinks."

Perhaps the people most deserving of Idahoans' thanks for dodging the creationism bullet, however, are themselves. When Fox stood for re-election in 1998, voters decided they had had enough. They shunned their own tendency to elect Republicans to statewide office long enough to replace Fox with Democrat Marilyn Howard.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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