August 1, 2003
Three biblical plaques on public land at the Grand Canyon, deemed inappropriate and removed in early July by the U.S. Department of Interior, were mysteriously reinstalled last month. Please urge the federal government to permanently remove the religious plaques.
The plaques, placed 33 years ago to "honor God" by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, quote passages from the Book of Psalms. They are posted at the South Rim overlooks at Hermit's Rest, Lookout Studio and Desert View Watchtower.
Click below to read a news story:
A cartoon by Arizona Republic's editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, lauding the initial decision to remove the plaques, can be viewed at:
(To view photos of the plaques, see the news story in the Grand Canyon News, Week of July 16-22, 2003, "Plaques with Bible quotes come down at Grand Canyon" by news editor Brad Fuqua. Use the link below and do a "search" for "plaques" to find the archived story.)
Please contact at least one of the public offices below to urge the permanent removal of the religious plaques at the South Rim. Succinct emails or letters, including your name and mailing address, are most effective. Please concentrate on one or two points about why the plaques offend you or the Constitution. (The next paragraph spells out some of the objections.) If you are a Grand Canyon fan or hope to visit this national treasure some day, a few personal comments to that effect would also be helpful.
Why should a particular Christian sect be permitted to mar the view? Why should the millions of visitors of diverse beliefs from around the world who go to the South Rim to revere a natural wonder be proselytized with the blessings of our federal government? Where does it end? What about plaques for all the competing religions? Would they permit plaques for atheists and agnostics? The presence of Christian markers clearly sets a trouble-making precedent, and confers endorsement by the National Park Service. Neutrality, the wisest course, is required under our U.S. Constitution.
1. Gale Norton, Secretary
Department of Interior
1849 C St NW
Washington DC 20240
2. Mary Bomar, director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
3. Grand Canyon National Park
PO Box 129
Grand Canyon AZ 86023
See update on the Grand Canyon violation.