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Group Says Park Service Stalling on Religious Displays

(RNS) A national alliance of public employees is accusing the National Park Service of “leadership paralysis” for not addressing questions about religious displays at federal parks.

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility had asked the Park Service last September about plaques containing biblical psalms at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and a stupa (a Buddhist religious monument) at Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico.

The organization questions whether the displays are constitutional.

“When it comes to religious displays, Park Service leadership reacts like a deer in the headlights — afraid to move but frozen in an indefensible position,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the alliance in a Thursday (March 31) statement.


An official of the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region had responded on March 3, saying the Park Service is consulting with lawyers at the Department of Interior and “intends to review these religious expressions in these two parks.”

James Doyle, spokesman for the Park Service’s Intermountain Region, told The Denver Post that officials are addressing the issue.

“We are dealing with this,” he said, “but dealing with religious displays is not easy. We want to be respectful of the separation of church and state, but it’s sometimes difficult to tell the history of the U.S. without preserving the role religion has played.”

– ADELLE M. BANKS, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    And just why should there be any religious displays in national parks?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Heretic_for_Christ

    I agree, pagansister, that we can do without public displays of religiosity, and not just in national parks. To me, faith that requires public proclamations is shallow at best.
    That said, I can think of about 100 things more important for our nation to address right now.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment LutheranChik

    Unless the park includes an extant religious structure or artifact in it — an old mission or a pioneer church or something — why indeed does there have to be a public religious display?

    Speaking as a Christian (one frequently mortified by the behavior of my coreligionists and of religious zealots of all kinds) — pray on your own time, folks. I do.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gwyddion9

    I agree with the previous comments. Exactly why, so some people feel or think they need to have some kind of religious displays in public parks?
    When I go to a public park, I go to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the place. I DO NOT want to be inundated in someone else’s beliefs.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    Heretic_for_Christ: “That said, I can think of about 100 things more important for our nation to address right now.”

    There’s always going to be something “more important”. Does that mean this issue should never be addressed?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Heretic_for_Christ

    I didn’t say the issue should not be addressed. To me, it’s just a question of priorities.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    It’s so easy to say why have a religous plaque on a railing or a stand in a public park when most of us don’t read much while our kids are running all over the place and almost falling down the shale on a mountain top. Like who cares? Actually there are some that do though. Seeing a picture of Buddha, words of a Psalm, etc. to them only adds to the panorama of the beautiful park. It’s like coming home to them. I have said on here before the same words as above, but on really thinking about it, there’s that word thinking again. All people have different ideas of beauty and if their religion comes to mind why not every symbol there is tucked in somewhere, we don’t have to read it. And how does it infringe on state matters? It doesn’t. We should enjoy the vast diversity of our nation, instead of trying to extinguish it every chance get.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    The problem is that, it being on federal land, it’s easy to infer the government wants it there. I.e. the government supports that religion. Which it cannot do.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Actually nnmns if every belief was represented on federal land it would only show that our government is following one of our freedoms, freedom of representing all religions, and beliefs. It wouldn’t be picking only one religion and no other belief, such as Agnostics, Humanists, Atheists, Wicca, etc. It would be a good thing and people would stop arguing about it. Something new pops up put another symbol up.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Yes, if every religion and non-religion were represented on all our federal and state installations there’d be no question of favoritism. And boy, would we get tired of religions!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    H22 I’m surprised at your position in this matter and I totally agree, this is not an atheist nation although their has always been room for atheism. And of course freedom of religion means freedom and religious symbols and quotes have always been welcomed, in this day and age all religions should be included and not excluded especially by the government. We’ve seen every elected official turn to the religious communities for help since the conception of this country. The truth of the matter most religions will outlast this country.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    This country will go on forever if we follow the doctrines our forefathers set in place. Religions will, too, the ones that come from God.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    sorry H22, I have to disagree, this country’s days are certainly numbered, we use far more resources than our share and destroy more and more land, water, and air than we should for survival. We are unwise in our military affairs and growing weaker in resolve. I could go own but I need to spend some time with my wife now that we are both home.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment GodsCountry

    Haven’t visited this wasteland in over a year and am surprised to find the same old self-interest, deception and subversion.

    Hell awaits. That is, until you accept the free gift of God’s grace and turn from your ways.

    Do it now, you don’t know that you will have another opportunity.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Whatever, GC, whatever.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    If the government is inferring that it is hostile to religions then those who back that thought should not expect our support when politicians see our response to their actions perhaps these government officials will become half as smart as those before them.

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