New Internationalist

In God’s country

Issue 374

The Bush Administration’s latest attempt to blur the boundaries between church and state is its promotion of ‘faith-based’ national parks. Government-owned bookshops at national parks are now selling books promoting Creationist theories of the Grand Canyon which, according to one book, was formed only in the last few thousand years by Noah’s flood. The books, listed in the ‘natural sciences’ section, have been approved by the Bush Administration for sale in the national parks bookshops despite protests by park officials and the scientific community. Other books written specifically to dispute the Creationist interpretation of the formation of the Grand Canyon have however been banned.

In a related controversy, the Bush Administration overturned a ruling by the superintendent of the National Canyon Park to remove three plaques sponsored by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary which were on display at prominent locations in the Park inscribed with Biblical quotations overtly suggesting that the Canyon was the direct creation of God.

One of the controversial books, The Grand Canyon: A Different View, has proven so popular with regular visitors that it has sold out. More have been ordered from the Arkansas-based publisher New Leaf Press, which describes the dispute as ‘the next battlefield in the struggle for Christian rights’.

According to Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has led the campaign against the books’ inclusion in government shops: ‘Selling the book at the Grand Canyon is no different than approving a book claiming Yellowstone’s geysers are the work of Satan.’ But Creationist groups such as Answers in Genesis are not fazed: ‘Paleontology is much like politics: passions run high, and it’s easy to draw very different conclusions from the same set of facts.’ Indeed.

Seriously itself is now launching its own publishing programme in the expectation of White House sponsorship. The first two in the series will show how the Pacific Ocean was formed from God’s tears and how volcanic eruptions are caused by outbreaks of sodomy in nearby cities.

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