ATLANTA (AP) — Having denounced evolution as a lie "straight from the pit of hell," Republican Rep. Paul Broun has won himself a new political opponent: Charles Darwin.
An ultraconservative congressman whose district includes the University of Georgia campus, Broun told a Baptist church last month that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory were lies spread by scientists out to erode people's faith in Jesus Christ. He also claimed the Earth is roughly 9,000 years, a view held by fundamentalist Christians based on biblical accounts of creation.
Now scientists are questioning whether Broun, a medical doctor and a Baptist from Athens, should serve on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee if he rejects widely accepted scientific ideas. And a talk radio host in nearby Atlanta is trying to rally voters to cast write-in votes for Darwin, the English naturalist who first published his theory of evolution in 1859.
Religious fundamentalists like Broun damage the Republican brand, said Neal Boortz, the libertarian-leaning radio host who has a strong following among Georgia conservatives.
"It makes Republicans look like knee-dragging, still-tending, tobacco-spitting Neanderthals," Boortz said.
A Facebook page promoting Darwin for Congress went up Oct. 8 urging supporters to take a stand against Broun.
But the laws of political science hold that Broun will likely win re-election to a fourth term. He has no Democratic opponent in the election Nov. 6 and Georgia law requires write-in candidates to register by early September. That, and Darwin is long dead.
"Dr. Broun welcomes Mr. Darwin as a challenger and is particularly looking forward to the debate portion of the campaign," the congressman's spokeswoman, Meredith Griffanti, said in an e-mail Wednesday evening. "We're sure it will be very lively."
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