The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Despite telling members of Congress and the public that the legality and appropriateness of the National Park Service offering a creationist book for sale at Grand Canyon museums and bookstores was “under review at the national level by several offices,” no such review took place, according to materials obtained by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, the real agency position was expressed by NPS spokesperson Elaine Sevy as quoted in the Baptist Press News:
“Now that the book has become quite popular, we don’t want to remove it.”
“Promoting creationism in our national parks is just as wrong as promoting it in our public schools,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, “If the Bush Administration is using public resources for pandering to Christian fundamentalists, it should at least have the decency to tell the truth about it.”
The creationist book is not the only religious controversy at Grand Canyon National Park. One week prior to the approved sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, NPS Deputy Director Donald Murphy ordered that bronze plaques bearing Psalm verses be returned and reinstalled at canyon overlooks. Superintendent Alston had removed the bronze plaques on legal advice from Interior Department solicitors. Murphy also wrote a letter of apology to the plaques’ sponsors, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. PEER has collected other instances of what it calls the Bush Administration’s “Faith-Based Parks” agenda.
As a form of delusional but protected speech, I have less problem with the sale of the book in the store (assuming accounts of the actual geologic record are also for sale) than I do with the plaques defacing the canyon overlooks, an aesthetic/environmental defamation that removes options rather than provides new ones. The schools are another matter altogether.