Alabama Education Association Funding Attack on Politician for Believing in Evolution

According to its website, the Alabama Education Association

is the largest education association in the state of Alabama. The AEA is an advocate organization that leads the movement for excellence in education and is the voice of education professionals in Alabama. Our mission is to promote educational excellence.

…AEA is an affiliate of the 3.2 million member, National Education Association (NEA) – the nation’s largest professional employee organization. The NEA is committed to advancing the cause of public education and believes every child deserves a quality education.

The AEA is also apparently indirectly funding an attack on a gubernatorial candidate on the grounds that he believes in teaching the theory of evolution and is not a Biblical literalist. Here’s the ad:

The “LiberalBradleyByrne” website which features in the advert is “paid for by True Republican PAC”. The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month:

The state’s powerful teachers union has given $500,000 to political action committees that contributed to an effort to attack Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne.

…True Republican PAC, according to a review of campaign finance documents filed with the Alabama secretary of state’s office, has received most of its funding from PACs heavily funded by the Alabama Education Association.

The Birmingham News added:

While the money funneled to the True Republican PAC was obscured by a series of PAC-to-PAC transfers, now that it is out in the open, [AEA Executive Secretary Paul] Hubbert had no hesitation in talking about it.

He said AEA worked with a Marengo County Republican, Andy Renner, to set up the PAC…

But this isn’t just a tale of Republican fundamentalism; Hubbert is co-chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, while the AEA’s assistant secretary is chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference. Hubbert and Renner

…worked with Denver-based Media Strategies and Research on the Byrne ads. Media Strategies commonly works for Democratic candidates and for the National Education Association.

The “LiberalBradleyByrne” website goes into further detail about Byrne and religion :

It is hard to know where Bradley Byrne stands when it comes to his belief about the Bible. As noted in the Book of James, chapter 3, verse 11: “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”

In the Mobile Press-Register on November 16, 2009, Bradley Byrne stated that “there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be literally true and parts that are not.” (1)

…Some insight is offered from when he served on the State Board of Education. Back then Mr. Byrne stated that “evolution is clearly the dominant theory that best explains the origin of life on earth.” That doesn’t sound like someone who believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible.

…when Mr. Byrne served in the state senate, he voted against the establishment of “Christian Heritage Week,” a program designed to spend 30 minutes per day for one week studying the influence of Christianity in American history. Mr. Byrne said it would be too difficult to schedule. (4)

Mr. Byrne has stated these positions in the public on the record. In the weeks ahead as we get closer and closer to the election, watch politician Bradley Byrne deny what he has already publicly stated.”Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15

(Hat tip: Pharyngula)

UPDATE: Byrne has issued  a statement insisting that the advert is a lie:

As a Christian and as a public servant, I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God. As a member of the Alabama Board of Education, the record clearly shows that I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books. Those who attack me have distorted, twisted and misrepresented my comments and are spewing utter lies to the people of this state.

That’s from his official campaign website – i.e. not an Onion spoof.