In the course of the Evolution - Creation debate, defenders of the evolutionary monopoly are often heard saying that creationism, or even the ID hypothesis, has no place in the public schools. When the two model approach (allowing discussion of creationism) was proposed in some states in the 70s and 80, this was disallowed as it was deemed to introduce "religion", in federally funded science classes. They say that such amount to "religion," and the U.S. federal government cannot be seen as promoting "religion" with public money, as this would go against the separation of Church and State. In a Times article entitled The Evolution Wars, by Claudia Wallis we are are told:
"When such laws [banning evolution] were struck down by a Supreme Court decision in 1968, some states shifted gears and instead required that "creation science" be taught alongside evolution. Supreme Court rulings in 1982 and 1987 put an end to that. Offering creationism in public schools, even as a sidedish to evolution, the high court held, violated the First Amendment's separation of church and state." (Time August 15th, 2005, vol. 166, no. 7, pp. 27-35)
More recently the tack of Creationist and Intelligent Design proponents has been to win the right to criticize Evolution in science classes. But the knee-jerk evolutionist reaction is to disallow that too. That amounts to more "religion" we are told... Is criticism of Evolution on even scientific grounds, "religion"? Perhaps things have gotten out of hand here. To use SJ Gould's phrase, have we got a form of "evolutionary fundamentalism" here ? Does a scientific theory really need the protection of the courts to survive? Shouldn't intellectual "natural selection" run the show ? Something seems very wrong here...
On the other hand, is it true that the US federal government consistently avoid funding religion in any shape or form ? Does such an proposal stand up to any close scrutiny? And does it reflect past or current practice?
When one takes an unbiased look at the U.S. National Parks system and in visiting sites administered by the same, one often comes upon exhibits and information that definitely promote religion. Although the religion presented is obviously of a form that is considered politically correct, it is religion nonetheless. One example is Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming. At the site, amongst the exhibits providing geological and historical information, there are some that provide and promote First Nation pre-Christian religious beliefs. One in particular is the religious belief that Devils Tower is "hallowed ground". Exhibits also indicate that Devils Tower is a place where individuals come to communicate with spirit beings. All this is being done using federal money. One could protest that such a practice violates separation of Church and State, but no such protest come up here. It seems that if the religion promoted is perceived to be "politically correct", then it is legitimate, fundable and not subject to being censored or deliberately ignored.
If other parks in the U.S. National Parks system are examined, one should not be surprised to find similar double-standards. Judeo-Christian beliefs are not welcome, religions that are deemed politically correct are.
click on photos for large format
Photos shown here were shot by the author the 16th of August 2005