Efforts by mainstream scientists to stop a book defending young-earth creationism from being sold at the Grand Canyon have backfired. Sales are growing, and the controversy is evolving into a test case for free speech.

Last summer, the Grand Canyon Association began selling Grand Canyon: A Different View (Master Books, 2003) in its six bookstores after receiving unanimous approval from a National Park Service review board. The hardback book, compiled by Christian river guide Tom Vail, combines beautiful photography with essays from scientists. They argue that the canyon was created suddenly several thousand years ago.

A park employee complained about the book. Last December, the leaders of seven national geological associations asked Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Joseph Alston to remove the book because of its "narrow religious view."

Thousands of citizens have reportedly contacted the park service, which is studying the issue before making a decision. The association continues to order copies.

Richard Jefferson of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is representing Vail, says the real issue is free speech, not science.

"The question is, will we have state-sponsored censorship or will we observe constitutional protections for free speech?" Jefferson said.

Last year, after the American Civil Liberties Union complained, park officials removed donated plaques with verses from the Psalms posted at the canyon's South Rim. Following a public furor, officials put the plaques back up.

Related Elsewhere:

CT's coverage of Grand Canyon displays includes:

The Grand Canyon as Metaphor (Dec. 26,2003)
Officials Erode Psalm Displays at Grand Canyon (July 14, 2003)
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