Legislators on Monday broadened a proposal aimed at allowing Indiana's public schools to teach creationism in science classes to require that such courses include origin-of-life theories from multiple religions.
The Senate approved the change to legislation critics had argued was unconstitutional because federal courts repeatedly have found teaching creationism violates church-state separation because of its reliance on the Bible's book of Genesis.
The change proposed by Democratic Sen. Vi Simpson of Bloomington says any course offered by public schools teaching creationism must include origin theories from multiple religions, among them Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
Simpson said she didn't think the change would resolve constitutional problems, but she believed broadening the subject matter might cause local school boards to hesitate before deciding to insert religion into science classes.
"It does make it clear that a school board can't just say we're only going to teach Christian creation theory but we also have to cover other multiple religions," Simpson said.
The broadened bill still faces a vote by the full Senate before advancing to the House.
Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn, who sponsored the creationism bill, said he reluctantly supported the change because it made the proposal acceptable to more senators.
Kruse said while he wanted school districts to have the option of teaching creationism alongside evolution he believed the broader proposal still would expose students to theories that the development of life was guided by a deity.
"Most of those other main religions also believe in creation," Kruse said.