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[greenyes] Administration's Science Position



Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337

PARK SERVICE STICKS WITH BIBLICAL EXPLANATION FOR GRAND CANYON
Promised Legal Review on Creationist Book Is Shelved

Washington, DC - 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."

In August of 2003, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Joe Alston
attempted to block the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail,
a book explaining how the park's central feature developed on a biblical
rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however,
intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of
Communications David Barna told reporters that there would be a high-level
policy review, distributing talking points stating: "We hope to have a final
decision in February [2004]." In fact, the promised review never occurred -

a.. In late February, Barna crafted a draft letter to concerned members of
Congress stating: "We hope to have a final decision on the book in March
2004." That draft was rewritten in June and finally sent out to
Congressional representatives with no completion date for the review at all;
b.. NPS Headquarters did not respond to a January 25th memo from its own
top geologists charging that sale of the book violated agency policies and
undercut its scientific education programs;
c.. The Park Service ignored a letter of protest signed by the presidents
of seven scientific societies on December 16, 2003.
"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.

_________________________
Peter Anderson, President
RECYCLEWORLDS CONSULTING
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address
web: www.recycleworlds.net

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