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Meet Gene Mills, head of the Louisiana Family Forum, a fundamentalist Christian activist group that is seeking "to develop a plan to promote better science education." Their plan basically involves introducing creationism and discrediting evolution and normal scientific principals.
In addition to promoting good, strong Christian values, the Louisiana Family Forum also is in the business of defending Senator David Vitter in the scandal over his use of prostitutes in both D.C. and LA. And what's the reward? David Vitter sneaks an earmark into the US Farm Bill funneling a hundred thousand dollars to the Louisiana Family Forum.
Hello? FBI? Anyone paying attention?
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.
The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."
The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.
The nonprofit Louisiana Family Forum, launched in Baton Rouge in 1999 by former state Rep. Tony Perkins, has in recent years taken the lead in promoting "origins science," which includes the possibility of divine intervention in the creation of the universe.
The group's stated mission is to "persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking." Until recently, its Web site contained a "battle plan to combat evolution," which called the theory a "dangerous" concept that "has no place in the classroom." The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry.
The group's tax-exempt status prohibits the Louisiana Family Forum from political activity, but Vitter has close ties to the group. Dan Richey, the group's grass-roots coordinator, was paid $17,250 as a consultant in Vitter's 2004 Senate race. From 1997-2004, Richey served under appointment of Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., as director of the federally-funded Governor's Program on Abstinence.
Records also show that Vitter's campaign employed Beryl Amedee, the education resource council chairwoman for the Louisiana Family Forum.
When Vitter's use of a Washington, D.C., call girl service drew comparisons last month to the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in what an undercover officer said was a solicitation for sex in an airport men's room, Family Forum Executive Director Gene Mills came to Vitter's defense.
Critics said taxpayer money should not go to support a religion-based program.
"This is a misappropriation of public funds," said Charles Kincade, a civil rights lawyer in Monroe who has been involved in church-state cases. "It's a backdoor attempt to push a religious agenda in the public school system."
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