Creationist McLeroy loses in Texas election

By Phil Plait | March 5, 2010 12:32 pm

I am pleased to write that the creationist and generally anti-reality Don McLeroy has lost his bid for re-election to the Texas State Board of Education!


The man who ousted him is Thomas Ratliff, who is — gasp! — an actual educator who has vowed to try to remove the politicization of the board and also to actually – gasp again! — listen to educators when it comes to, y’know, educational topics. You may remember McLeroy is the goofball who infamously said, "Someone has to stand up to the experts!"

However, mitigating the good news somewhat are some things to consider:

1) McLeroy is still on the BoE for the next seven months before his term runs out. He can do a vast amount of damage to Texas schoolchildren’s education in that time.

2) Ratliff only won by a very narrow margin, meaning a whole lot of Texas citizens either didn’t know about McLeroy’s maniacal attempts at derailing the Lone Star State’s educational system, didn’t care, or actually supported him.

3) McLeroy and his crew of revisionist creationists have already done so much damage that it cannot be easily repaired. There is a cycle to the way standards and such are reviewed and updated in Texas, so it could be years before things are straightened out, if at all.

Still, this is good news, and so I won’t use the "Texas: Doomed" graphic. Instead, I’ll remind you not to rest:

Tip o’ the ten gallon hat to Robert Estes and the many other BABloggees who emailed me about this.

MORE ABOUT: Don McLeroy, Texas

Comments (50)

  2. One reason I do Odyssey of the Mind with the kids at our schools…. at least I can teach my teams REAL Science ! I assisted my better half with her team this year…. try teaching Bernoulli’s principle to 2nd ~ 5th graders sometime… but believe it or not… they actually made some things that exhibited ballistic trajectories !!!

    My team (6th graders this year) are going to STATE!!!! Balsa ROX !!!! we only held 200 lbs. but try doing that with 18 GRAMS of balsa wood sometime.

    thanx for the heads up about the BoE and have a GREAT WEEKEND Phil !!

  3. Jim

    Non-Texans may need a brief explanation.

    This was the result from the Republican primary, which usually draws voters from the more conservative side of the GOP to the polls. It does not reflect the opinion of the general electorate, possibly not even that of the GOP as a whole.

    There is no Democrat running for this position, so Ratliff will win (asuming he remembers to vote for himself) in November. McLeroy’s term doesn’t expire until after the general election, hence the delay.

    A journey of a thousand miles, etc, etc.

  4. Ad Hominid

    Given McLeroy’s state-wide and even national prominence in the creo world, I think it is quite an achievement for a relative newcomer to have defeated him in his own district, however narrow the margin.
    Congratulations to Thomas Ratliff and the people of District 9 for this sensible choice in the face of enormous outside pressure and the pervasive influence of well-organized fundamentalists.

  5. Darth Robo


  6. Wayne on the plains

    I voted for Bob Craig and I’m happy to say he also won his primary against a far-right challenger.

  7. tacitus

    Good news indeed, but unless Texas also manages to kick out McLeroy’s enabler-in-chief, Governor Rick Perry this November, then I fear we will not have heard the last of him.

  8. Robert E

    Small victories are better than nothing (most of the time).

  9. Dan N

    He’s no atheist, but he understands how to balance religion in science. He’s infinitely better than McLeroy. Here’s what Ratliff has to say about evolution vs creation.

    “I believe the Bible tells us who created the Earth and why. I believe science tells us when the Earth was created and how. Neither is designed to tell the other story, therefore we shouldn’t ask them to try.”

    “I believe God created the Heavens and the Earth millions and millions of years ago. I do not believe, as my opponent does, that the Earth is a mere few thousand years old, nor do I believe, as my opponent does, that dinosaurs and mankind lived at the same time.”

  10. I was at LPSC all this week, and I drove back to College Station on Tuesday afternoon for the sole purpose of voting against Perry and McLeroy. Boss and I were extremely pleased McLeroy lost. :)

  11. Steve in Dublin

    Congratulations to Thomas Ratliff and the people of District 9…

    District 9?! Seriously? The irony is too strong here. Wait a minute… am I on Candid Camera?

    (holy hakalela. I just looked it up and there *is* a district 9 so far as the Texas SBOE is concerned. Beyond belief as a coincidence, that is!)

  12. Thank the IPU or FSM. Heck, thank Dr. Plait’s dog for all I care, just glad that nutbag is gone!

  13. Timmy

    To # 12 Steve in Dublin,

    what is unusual about having at least 9 districts?

  14. MikeS

    One caveat: Tincy Miller, the moderate Republican on the board, lost to a “teach the controversy” Republican. So let’s hold the champagne for now.

  15. Scottynuke

    Nothing’s wrong with it, Timmy, just as long as Ratliff didn’t pick up any strange objects and get sprayed with black goo when he was voting…

  16. Messier Tidy Upper

    So the good year for skepticism continues. Hooray! :-)

    I second #4 Ad Hominid’s “Congratulations to Thomas Ratliff and the people of District 9 for this sensible choice in the face of enormous outside pressure and the pervasive influence of well-organized fundamentalists.”

    @ 12. Steve in Dublin Says:

    Beyond belief as a coincidence, that is!

    Yoda imitation that is? 😉

    @ 17. Scottynuke Says:

    Nothing’s wrong with it, Timmy, just as long as Ratliff didn’t pick up any strange objects and get sprayed with black goo when he was voting…

    Sorry I don’t get that reference there. Anyone care to explain – is it from that ‘District 9’ movie which I didn’t see?

  17. @Messier Tidy Upper

    Yep, the movie.

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    ^ Todd W. Thanks. :-)

    So what happened – what did the goo do? What about the strange obect -what was it &what did it do?

    Just checked the article & found it sure was a narrow win :

    Ratliff, who got 50.5 percent of the vote …

    Yikes! Still divisive and couldn’t be much closer then but I guess the main thing is the right guy won.

    I am increasingly getting the hopeful – and hopefully correct – impression that the tide of opinion, politics and culture is finally turning against the Creobots.

  19. Mike C.

    So there is a god after all? I seriously doubt that, but good news nonetheless.

  20. Timmy

    Didn’t say wrong…..said unusual. Wasn’t aware of a movie.

  21. Scottynuke

    So you did, Timmy, my mistake. Yes, that’s a “District 9” movie reference, where the black goo is what transforms the human into one of the aliens. :)

  22. Pi-needles

    @20. Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    Yikes! Still divisive and couldn’t be much closer then but I guess the main thing is the right guy won.

    Er .. Don’t you mean the (politically & only somewhat but relative to McLeroy) *Left* guy won? 😉

    @21. Mike C. Says:

    So there is a god after all?

    Or gods plural or a Monster, variety Flying Sphaghetti, or that its just plain [Professor Farnsworth voice on] “Good news everybody!” [ /Professor Farnsworth voice off] :-)

    Why credit an invisible sky fairy for something that we know a lot of people have worked very hard to achieve? On this topic especially.

    PAS. Yeah, I know you probably meant it ironically but still just sayin’ 😉

  23. Pi-needles

    Oops. PS only not PAS whatever that stands for! 😉

  24. fred edison

    #11 aggieastronaut

    Thanks for helping to keep it real.

    When I was reading articles about McLeroy and his ideas/beliefs of an altered reality, I don’t think I’d said “holy crap!” out loud so many times before in my life. Good job, Texas!

  25. JohnW

    Obviously God didn’t want him on the SBOE anymore.

  26. Obviously God didn’t want him on the SBOE anymore.

    No, no, no. When one of these yo-yos lose, it’s Satan’s fault. The Great Deceiver tricked a small majority of Republican voters to choose the other guy over God’s candidate.

    Got it?

  27. Jeff

    That is good news indeed!

  28. Katharine

    Want to help us out in Virginia, where our governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general are all graduates of two of the cult houses in the state?

  29. Katharine

    By ‘cult houses’ I mean the conservative religiobot institutions such as LackOfLiberty and Re(volting)gent, not actual universities in the state such as UVA and Virginia Tech.

    I refuse to recognize the academic credentials of anyone from a far-right nonsecular school.

  30. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and the war goes on,,,

    Seems those pesky creationists are now linking their anti-evolution diatribes with global warming science and even the big bang because, you know, they’re JUST theories, so any dumb idea is considered co-equal with the rigorous underpinnings of theoretical science methodology.

    We really need to insist that schools begin teaching the scientific method in kindergarden. I expect that’s the only way we’ll succeed in raising a generation that understands why some theories are better than others.

    GAry 7

  31. jaybird

    Yea guys,
    Great to see the diversity of thought on this site. What this country needs is true scientists educating our young people, and “progressive” thought shaping our childrens historical views. That way, life can become wonderful like it is in irreligious Europe. They’re so open-minded and productive over there. So many cultural, scientific and medical advances have come from Europe over the last fifty years. Hurray for secularism. Oh, yea, did you hear, those “pure scientists”, getting government money, have “educated” the Europeans to believe the Earth has been warming for the last 15 years? Oh, wait, it hasn’t been? Since Mother Earth is our new god, the prophets say need to raise taxes and pay the tithe. In fact, policy makers don’t want a tenth, they want almost everything. What’s more, is that if the world begins a strict regiment of conservation and sacrifice (especially sacrificing the white American Christian male, because he’s the root of all evil in the world anyway) to the dear goddess of Nature, she may impart a miracle and return the Earth to balance. So, in celebration of our victory in Texas against those, oooh, thiests, lets all meet in Amsterdam at the red light district for a brew and a joint, and imagine all those people living life in peace (under Sharia), when we finally exterminate the thinking of those small minded Christian funny-mentalists in America. I’m sure the world will be a safer, more rational place without them.

  32. Wait, my state did something on the side of actual science for a change? I’m surprised.


    1: Learn to use the “tab” and “enter” keys. Paragraphs are your friends. So is proper grammar and spelling.

    2: Diversity of thought is great, especially in scientific endeavors where it can lead to astounding and unprecedented new discoveries. However, parroting religious dogma that has no basis in rationality is hardly what I’d call “diverse” or “thoughtful”.

    3: As to the rest, go troll somewhere else please.

  33. J.J.E.

    Hooray Texas! I’m glad my home is finally booting out that nut, if only by a few hundred votes.

    As a Texan and an evolutionary biologist, double hooray.

    But this is just the first of what I hope will be many baby steps. Towards a glorious new leap forward into secular sharia under a one world government, or something. Because Christian males are evil and need to be sacrificed, I think. And something about Amsterdam and Thiests[sic], yadda yadda.

    But seriously, nice to see McLeroy out so he can stop embarrassing us.

  34. Hi, I am sending to you an interview with Michael Behe that we just perfomed last week. The blog is in Spanish but the interview is both in Spanish and English:
    We encourage to everyboy to participate in the discussion.

  35. james wheaton

    jaybird (#34) – that is a very large collection of straw man BS. Are you joking with us? If not, then I would say it is most fortunate that Texas has made a turn in the right direction meaning a direction away from the likes of you and your ilk. Hopefully, as Texas has a too large influence on school text books, this direction will be sustained for the sake of children in other states, like mine.

  36. Lawrence

    Just for a laugh, I went over to to see what people were saying about the recent announcement of the “confirmation (though I’m sure the arguments will continue in some circles)” of the Asteroid theory for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

    “Amazingly” enough – about 90% of the comments railed against “Science” and how dare they question the Biblical Flood as the reason dinosaurs aren’t around (and one person even claimed that the baby dinosaurs on the Ark were eaten by the other predators on board – which is why they aren’t around anymore).

    The WOO is strong with them.

  37. Dr. Rocketscience

    Lawrence @39
    Boyhowdy, you weren’t kiddin’.

  38. G. D. Wymer

    From Ohio here; and I have been following this candidate from another planet. One of my concerns was the power that this man could have had on the development of school curriculum. The Texas School Board has an inordinate amount of power nationally. Students in this country already have a difficult time learning the real histories (sic) of the United States and we do not need to step any further back in time with the likes of McLeroy.

    Congratulations to Thomas Ratliff and to Texas!

  39. t-storm

    on cnn they were just talking about parents who home school are having a hard time finding science books that don’t teach creationism.

  40. C. Moore

    I just want to point out that Mr. Ratliff is NOT an educator, but he supports the work of educators (experts in teaching children, if you will). Whereas, Dr. McLeroy and a few others on the SBOE are opposed to public education and view it as a form of political (liberal, of course) indoctrination.

  41. Ray

    Sadly this is the type of damage still able to be done


  42. Darth Robo

    jaybird Says: (translation of course)

    “Dammit, I can’t argue against evolution or for Creationism so I’m gonna bring up… wait for it… GLOBAL WARMING! HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!”

    And don’t forget to throw in a little bit of Christian martyr complex for good measure:

    If you’re still around jaybird, take a look at comment #10 and (try and) understand that this is not about “exterminating Christians” but about promoting good science and critical thinking. Oh, and preserving the US Constitution and not turning it into a theocracy.

  43. RDrisk5150

    Jaybird #34: Thanks for your post. I think American’s should ask themselves one question over all this: When we stand before God will it matter to Him more if we believed in the Constitution or if we believed His Word? I know I’ll get some smart aleck remarks over that, but if it makes an impact in one person’s life it is worth any backlash.
    May God get a hold of this nation…soon!!!

  44. Something to counter these conservative,religious nut cases!

    “The citizens of the United States . . . have the right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience. . . . [T]he Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” –GEORGE WASHINGTON

    (Church-State scholar Robert Boston:) “The Constitution fashioned in 1787 is a secular document. There is no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or a supreme being anywhere in the document. A minority faction of delegates pressed for some type of recognition of Christianity in the Constitution, but their views were rejected.”

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God.”- Thomas Paine

    “Turn over the pages of history and read the damning record of the church’s opposition to every advance in every field of science. . . .” Upton Sinclair

    “By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars. Throughout our two hundred plus years, public policy debate has focused on political and economic issues, on which there can be compromise. . . .” –Senator Barry Goldwater


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