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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

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liz

shortly after I wrote this (7 am Mountain time) the PEER site is down. Here are some other sites:

http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/mt_archives/000017.php

December 22, 2003 | Back Issues « previous | next »
Bush Administration's "Faith-Based Parks"

In a series of recent decisions, the National Park Service has approved the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books about the origins of natural wonders in national parks, according to documents to be released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a program of faith-based parks,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.

In July, NPS Deputy Director Donald Murphy ordered the Grand Canyon National Park to return three bronze plaques bearing biblical verses to public viewing areas on the Canyon’s South Rim. Murphy overruled the park superintendent, who had authorized the removal based on legal advice from the Interior Department that the religious displays violated the First Amendment.

On its website, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, which put up the plaques, says the Bible verses were allowed in the national park after “God touched the hearts of officials to give permission.”

This fall, the Park Service approved a creationist text, “Grand Canyon: A Different View,” for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book claims that the Grand Canyon is only a few thousand years old and developed on a biblical, rather than an evolutionary, time scale. At the same time, Park Service leadership has blocked publication of guidance for park rangers and other interpretative staff that labeled creationism as lacking any scientific basis, PEER found.

The actions would appear to be in conflict with President Bush’s stated support for policies based on “sound science.”

Last month, the Park Service announced it would alter an 8-minute video shown at the Lincoln Memorial visitor center of past demonstrations and events at the memorial. Conservative groups had asked for the removal of footage of gay rights, pro-choice and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations because it implies that “Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion ‘rights’ as well as feminism.” The Park Service has promised to develop a “more balanced” version that includes rallies of Christian groups and pro-war demonstrations, PEER said.

The Park Service is also engaged in a legal battle to continue displaying an 8-foot-tall cross atop a 30-foot-high rock outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve in California. The suit is pending before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

liz

If you would like to talk to Jeff Ruch or PEER directly:
Jeff Ruch, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (202) 265-7337

liz

go look at Counterpunch, who wrote Earlier this year, the Bush administration prevented park rangers from publishing a rebuttal to the book for use by interpretive staff and seasonal employees who are often confronted during tours by creationist zealots.

In southern California, a similar battle is raging over a Latin cross erected on the Sunrise Rocks in the Mojave National Preserve."

liz

http://www.ems.org/rls/2003/12/22/religion_on_disp.html

whole text follows
For Immediate Release: Monday, December 22, 2003
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337


Religion on Display in National Parks; Christian Fundamentalist Influence on Park Service Decisions - "Faith-Based Parks" Decried

Washington, DC — In a series of recent decisions, the National Park Service has approved the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books giving a non-evolutionary explanation for the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders within national parks, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Also, under pressure from conservative groups, the Park Service has agreed to edit the videotape that has been shown at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995 to remove any image of gay and abortion rights demonstrations that occurred at the memorial.

"The Park Service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a program of Faith-Based Parks."

This July, NPS Deputy Director Donald Murphy, ordered the Grand Canyon National Park to return three bronze plaques bearing biblical verses to public viewing areas on the Canyon's South Rim. Murphy overruled the park superintendent who had directed the plaques' removal based on legal advice from the Interior Department that the religious displays violated the First Amendment. In a letter to the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, the group sponsoring the plaques, Murphy apologized for "any intrusion resulting from" the temporary removal of the plaques quoting Psalms 68:4, 66:4 and 104:24 and pledged "further legal analysis and policy review" before any new action is taken.

This fall, the Park Service also approved a creationist text, "Grand Canyon: A Different View" for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book by Tom Vail, claims that the Grand Canyon is really only a few thousand years old, developing on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. At the same time, Park Service leadership has blocked publication of guidance for park rangers and other interpretative staff that labeled creationism as lacking any scientific basis.

Last month, the Park Service announced that it would alter an eight-minute video containing photos and footage of demonstrations and other events taking place at the Lincoln Memorial. Conservative groups have asked to cut out footage of gay rights, pro-choice and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations because it implies that "Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion 'rights' as well as feminism." The Park Service has promised to develop a "more balanced" version that include rallies of the Christian group Promise Keepers and pro-Gulf War demonstrators though these events did not take place at the Memorial.

The Park Service is also engaged in an extended legal battle to continue displaying an eight-foot-tall cross, planted atop a 30-foot-high rock outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve in California. PEER Board Member and former-Park Service manager Frank Buono filed suit to force removal of the cross. That suit is now pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
read more at http://www.aclu-sc.org/Courts/DownloadLib/100124/

###
Environmental Media Services
1320 18th Street NW 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 463-6670
Website comments: ryan@ems.org
Copyright © 2003 Environmental Media Services

Liz

Did I get MeFi before? I forget damn eggnog ahghdm damn elves damn turkey stone lazy. Whatever:metafilter on the controversy.

Liz

Dissident voice Jan 3, 2004

A day after the PEER press release, Planet Out reported that the "story had changed" dramatically.

NPS Chief of Public Affairs, David Barna, assured Winne Stachelberg, the political director at the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, that footage of gay rights demonstrations would not be removed from presentations at the Lincoln Memorial. "It certainly sounds as if the park service is getting pressure from right-wing extremists groups to drop images of the gay community and add other images," Stachelberg told Planet Out.

The genesis of the current NPS controversy lies with a letter written last February by Kansas Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt. In the letter addressed the NPS, Tiahrt "objected to the portions of the video that depict gays and a National Abortion Rights League rally," Bill Line, a spokesperson for the National Park Service told Planet Out. Currently, Tiahrt is "in discussion" with the park service about adding scenes with the Promise Keepers march.

The alleged directive was the latest in a series of moves by the NPS catering to the demands of the president's conservative Christian constituency. In July, PEER reports, NPS Deputy Director Murphy "ordered the Grand Canyon National Park to return three bronze plaques bearing biblical verses to public viewing areas on the Canyon's South Rim." The plaques were made and donated by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Phoenix, who live in a convent called Cannan in the Desert.

Albert Riskin

Don Murphy of the Park Service seems to be violating america's first amendment rights. Where is the ACLU while this is going on? Murphy should be removed from his position and a statement that no religion will receive preference in our national parks should be issued by the National Park Service. They are for everyone, not any particular belief. I'm incensed that an govt. employee, who works for us, by the way, should cater to any particular religous belief. All amercans deserve to enjoy our parks without anyone's religion put "in your face." Can Murphy and his bosses and replace them with people who have all americans interest at heart, which is what they are paid to do.

Mark Stelly

edited for language I do not allow on this blogwhat an a hole this Murphy guy is americans need to remind him who pays his salery. What an idiot low life this guy is go to church a hole and leave our park alone! americans are getting sick and tired of this bull, americans are getting very angry with idiots like this just how angry are you willing to make us?

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