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West Virginia Student Helps Pass Bill to Teach Intelligent Design: 'This Is a God-Fearing State'

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For years, teachers have been limited in teaching students about the Creation of the universe. That included staying away from Intelligent Design, considered taboo due to its ties to the Bible. One West Virginia high school student felt that was unfair and helped draft a bill allowing West Virginia teachers to cover "scientific theory," which includes intelligent design.  

Sixteen-year-old West Virginia high school student Haden Hodge was just 14 when he decided to help his teachers increase the scientific theories they could include in lessons on how the world came to be. While the so-called Big Bang and evolution made the list, the theory that perhaps God supernaturally created the universe and humanity did not.  

"So I think a lot of it was fear. They were just afraid if a student asked a question like that and they answered it truthfully, then they were afraid of anything that could happen to them with their jobs or in their personal life or anything like that," Haden told us. "And like I said, with that science teacher, he was afraid to even have conversations like that and I thought, 'This needs to change. He needs to feel like he can talk about this without any fear of losing his job,'" Haden said.

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With the help of his father Tony and some West Virginia lawmakers, Haden drafted a bill that would allow teachers to include discussion of Intelligent Design. 

"Well, first of all, I'll tell you, Haden, he spearheaded this himself. I mean, he came to me and asked for my advice, 'Dad, how can we do this?' or whatever, and I just kind of gave him a little bit of advice. I said, but if you want to do it, you need to be the one to head it up. And so he sat down and did research, and he ended up working on the language himself and talked to the senator that represents our district and went to her and she happens to be the chair of the Education Committee, Sen. Amy Grady. He took it to her, and from there the ball just kept rolling. And we're really proud of him and all of his efforts," said Haden's father Tony. 

Due to political pushback, they agreed to take the phrase "Intelligent Design" out of the bill although it still allows West Virginia public school teachers to discuss it in the classroom. 

Some senators saw it as the easiest vote they cast all year.

"You have to understand, in West Virginia, this is a God-fearing state. The people here love the Lord. They love God, they love Jesus, and when people have things like this presented before them, they put God first in their lives. And the same goes for our legislators in this building behind me," said Tony.

Gov. Jim Justice, an outspoken Christian, signed it into law in March.

"Anyone that denies God's presence is just not looking and just absolutely not with it," Gov. Justice said. "And so, for our teachers to be able to teach the foundation of all of our lives, well, why wouldn't they teach it and everything?"

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"I know we can teach about evolution or teach big bang or whatever it may be, but common sense would only tell you, or reason would only tell you, well, of course, we've got to teach intelligent design and how we got there. We're blessed to have a wonderful young man (Haden) that brought it to our attention," the governor said.

Haden vividly remembers the day it passed the West Virginia Senate.

"It felt fantastic. I remember being up in the gallery and the second that it passed overwhelmingly; I got super excited. I remember giving my dad a high five, and that was just one of the coolest things ever. I looked over at my mom and she was kind of smiling and kind of crying at the same time. So, it was really fun," Haden recalled.

While Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee have similar legislation. Gov. Justice hopes West Virginia's version will help encourage other states to follow suit. "If we're the first in West Virginia to do this, it'll spread all across the land. You wait and see," the governor said. 


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About The Author

Wendy Griffith

Wendy Griffith is a Co-host for The 700 Club and an Anchor and Senior Reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In addition to The 700 Club, Wendy co-anchors Christian World News, a weekly show that focuses on the triumphs and challenges of the global church. ( Wendy started her career at CBN on Capitol Hill, where she was the network’s Congressional Correspondent during the Impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. She then moved to the Virginia Beach headquarters in 2000 to concentrate on stories with a more