ACLU complaint leads Bush administration to remove Scripture from Grand Canyon displays
More than 30 years ago, the Phoenix chapter of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary donated three plaques for viewing areas at Grand Canyon National Park, which receives about 4 million visitors a year. Each plaque contained a relevant verse from the Psalms. Psalm 68:4 orders readers to "lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts." Psalm 66:4 is a simple verse of praise: "All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name." Psalm 104:24 similarly cries out, "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." (Weblog is quoting here from the ESV, and doesn't know what translation the plaques use.)
The plaques recently drew the eye of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, which protested to park officials. Now the displays are being cleaned up and sent back to the sisterhood, The Arizona Daily Sun reports.
"The Department of Interior determined that the plaques were not appropriate for federal public facilities," spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge told the paper. "The First Amendment prohibits the government from supporting a particular religion. It's a difficult issue, but it is supported by numerous court decisions."
The plaques—placed on concessionaire buildings—were privately funded, but religious in nature. A "Thou shalt not steal" sign in the park gift shop probably wouldn't have caused any trouble. But is Oltrogge right in saying the plaques "support a particular religion?" Which of the various religions that use the Psalms is being supported?
In a statement quoted by the Sun, the sisterhood said it was stunned by the news. "These plaques have inspired ...1