Dennis Kruse, originally an auctioneer and founder of Kruse International, is currently an Indiana State Senator for the 14th District (State Representative from 1989 to 2004), chairman of the Education & Career Development Committee, and member of the Agriculture & Small Business, Pensions & Labor, and Utilities & Technology Committees. He is most famous for being one of the most ardent creationists in US state legislatures, and has for a long time pushed various bills to force religious fundamentalism to be taught in science classes at the expense of science – it’s unconstitutional, of course, but you know: Jesus.
In 1999, as a Representative, he pledged to introduce a law to remove evolution from the state’s science standards, and submitted bills challenging the teaching of evolution in 2000 and 2001 (both died in committee). In 2012, as a Senator, he introduced Senate Bill 89, which would – as if Edwards v. Aguillard never happened – amend the Indiana Code to provide that “[t]he governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” Actually, Kruse was completely aware of Edwards v. Aguillard, but argued that “[t]his is a different Supreme Court; [t]his Supreme Court could rule differently.”
The bill did, in fact, pass the Senate, since the Indiana Senate is populated with dangerous loons, and went to the House, where its sponsors were Jeff Thompson (R-District 28) and Eric Turner (R-District 32), the house speaker pro tem. There it got shelved. Thompson was also cosponsor, together with blathering creationist Cindy Noe, of House Bill 1140, which would require teachers to discuss “commonly held competing views” on topics “that cannot be verified by scientific empirical evidence,” which, taken literally, would not include evolution and climate change, but you can only guess how the sponsors were thinking about the issues. (Thompson has filed other creationist bills, too). It’s worth pointing out that even the Discovery Institute voiced objections to Bill 89, since it included overtly religious language (you betcha their heart wasn’t in the objections, but they have a narrative about themselves they desperately need to uphold to the public about intelligent design creationism not being a religious doctrine, which it demonstrably is – besides, even the Discovery Institute probably realized the bill didn’t stand a chance in the courts.)
Kruse, who is nothing if not determined, vowed to try again with an Academic Freedom Bill drafted by the Discovery Institute, which would, according to Kruse, allow “students to challenge teachers on issues, forcing them to provide evidence to back up their lessons.” No one in their right mind would believe that this was the purpose of the bill. In 2013, instead of submitting a new creationist bill, he rather sought, according to himself, to give public schools the option of beginning each day with the Lord’s Prayer. The bill he submitted, though, would – ostensibly in the name of religious freedom – allow school districts to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. In 2014 he weighed in on the Ball State brouhaha, demanding answers about the university’s “intelligent design ban”, showing that, once again, he has no real understanding of what’s going on.
In 2015 he submitted yet another creationist bill, this time with Rep. Jeff Raatz, who said he doesn’t have a problem if teachers who don’t see eye to eye with the science curriculum in their classrooms deciding to turn the tables on what he considers any sort of “science with controversy,” including human cloning, climate change and evolution – which kind of misses the point about education. This time, the bill encouraged students to “develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to different conclusions and theories concerning subjects that have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics; and (2) allow a teacher to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.” Yup, a standard Discovery Institute Academic Freedom bill. How students in the process of learning the basic concepts in evolution are supposed to develop critical thinking skills in evaluating evidence they haven’t seen or have the background to assess, is not clear. Actually, it is clear: this has nothing to do with critical thinking (not that Kruse or Raatz would recognize critical thinking if their lives depended on it). And of course the “weaknesses” of evolution doesn’t refer to, you know, actual weaknesses from a scientific point of view. The whole point is to make room for introducing creationist denialism and anti-science talking points to students before they can properly learn the science. And, of course, fundies have a tendency to spill the beans: “Call it a back-door approach to failed attempts to chip away at state standards on teaching evolution and to bring creationism into the public school classroom, if you want,” said Raatz. That bill died, too.
Kruse isn’t only a creationist, however. He is a full-fledged paranoid, raving conspiracy nutter who thinks thatthe UN is going to take over the country through Agenda 21 (a common trope over at InfoWars) Indeed, Kruse and Rep. Tim Neese have submitted bills to ban the implementation of any initiatives tied to Agenda 21, which encourages (and does nothing more) every nations to make development more environmentally friendly and sustainable. To Kruse that is apparently a communist effort to replace freedom with in the US with Sharia law.
Diagnosis: One sometimes wonders how fundies defend their rank dishonesty (well, one really doesn’t). Kruse, of course, is a science denialist, religious fundamentalist and happy liar-for-Jesus. And the good people of Indiana keep electing both him and others of the same kind. Scary stuff.