INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Creationism could be taught alongside the theory of evolution in Indiana schools under a bill passed by the state Senate.
The Indianapolis Star reports if the bill becomes law, the debate over teaching creationism could lead to a lengthy legal battle.
The bill, passed Tuesday by the Senate 28-22, would still need to be approved by the House and signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels before becoming law.
"I believe in creation and I believe it deserves to be taught in our public schools," said Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, the bill's author.
The bill would allow teaching of religious views of the origin of creation -- which could be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Scientology -- along with evolution in public school science classes.
But schools would not be required to teach creationism and an Indiana Department of Education spokesman said the state would not develop curriculum or guidelines for teaching creationism.
Kruse said he is aware the U.S. Supreme Court ruled teaching creationism was unconstitutional in a 1987 case in which the high court found a Louisiana law requiring creation science to be taught alongside evolution violated the Constitution because it was designed to advance religion.
But Kruse said the precedent might not hold today.
"This is a different Supreme Court. This Supreme Court could rule differently," he said.
Indiana school districts can actually teach creationism now, as some do.
Mount Vernon Community School Corp. Superintendent William Riggs said creationism is taught alongside evolution in biology class. "We've been doing this for years," he said.
Riggs said Mount Vernon High School teaches creationism and evolution as "two theories of the origins of life."
But the Star said districts that teach both could be vulnerable to lawsuits, and Kruse's bill would likely bring the state into their defense in a suit.