Regular readers will remember me reporting on the campaign by creationist loons in South Carolina to sneak a piece of Bible literalism into law, despite the Establishment Clause forbidding any such thing. If enacted, the law would have compelled any official mention of the state's official fossil, the Columbian mammoth - No! I'm not joking! - to include the words "which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field".
It had all started with a suggestion by 8 year-old Olivia McConnell that the state adopt the Columbian mammoth as its official fossil in honour of the fact that its teeth, found in a swap in the state in 1725, were the first mammalian fossils to be found in North America. In any normal place in the world such a suggestion would probably pass through on the nod as a nice little gesture and in recognition of the state's claim to fame in the field of palaeontology. Not so in loon-infested South Carolina, however, where any mention of fossils raises the dreaded spectre of Darwinian Evolution and sends true-believing creationist loons into a Bible-waving frenzy incase someone gets the right idea about evolution.
The amendment which would have included the above transparent reference to Genesis was inserted by loon's champion, Rep. Robert L. Ridgeway, III and was voted through the House of Representatives without dissent, the Judiciary Committee not having seen any problem with it either. Not a single elected Representative in South Carolina had any problem with trying to insert a piece of narrow sectarianism into law despite it clearly being unconstitutional.
The Senate, however, cried foul and blocked it, forcing the House to put it before a joint committee for final say before sending it to the Governor for approval. With the House having a one-vote majority on the committee and with all the House members having voted for the Ridgeway amendment, the outcome was by no means certain.
For those not familiar with the US Constitution, the so-called Establishment Clause is the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This is what Americans are referring to when they say they live in a free country. It guarantees both freedom of and freedom from religion, freedom of speech, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to have their grievances heard. Basically, it puts the American people in charge of America.
Naturally, the flag-wrapped, super-patriotic, fundamentalist Christians of South Carolina would do almost anything to do away with it.
However, despite four of the six member of the joint committee having voted for the subversion, the committee caved in and agrees a bill which made no mention of anything remotely resembling creationism and the bill went through both House (98-0) and Senate (32-3). It now goes to the Governor for final approval. So, it looks like South Carolinians will soon be able to proudly refer to their state fossil by its official name without having to spout a piece of creationist propaganda whether they agree with it or not, and State employees will not be compelled to include this propaganda in every reference to it, at the expense South Carolinian taxpayers.
The 'patriotic' US Christian right will need to dream up more subtle ways to subvert the hated US Constitution with it's guarantee of religious freedom which is so unfairly denying them the power to which they feel they have a God-given entitlement.