As a parent, I love to watch my children’s fascination with learning, especially when it comes to science. It’s something that many parents will do whatever they can to encourage, hoping it will continue all throughout their lives. I can only imagine the pride the parents of one 8-year-old girl in South Carolina had when she helped create a bill to name the woolly mammoth as the state fossil. Too bad one state senator decided it was more important to insert his religious beliefs into the debate than nurture a small child’s love of nature.
HB 4482, a bill that would designate the Columbia Wooly Mammoth as the official fossil of South Carolina, became mired in the legislative process because Republican Sen. Kevin Bryant amended it to state that the animal was created by God on the 6th day of Creation. His original amendment would have added a few passages of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, to the bill, but he decided later that it was enough to have it read, “created on the sixth day along with the beasts of the field.”
“I think it’s an appropriate time to acknowledge the creator,” Bryant told The Greenville News. He also said that since the amendment referred to the Old Testament, and multiple religions use it, it’s not an establishment of religion and doesn’t violate the separation of church and state.
Unsurprisingly, Bryant’s personal site is exploding with unhappy comments. “You took a sweet story about a small child’s natural wonder at the world, her budding scientific mind, and her admirable initiative and turned it into a pointless controversy. Shame on you,” writes one.
“This whole thing was a simple dream of an eight year old and her love for science to have a state fossil and out of nowhere you had obstruct it with your personal silly religious beliefs. It’s very scary someone like you is an such a position of power. You are an utter disgrace…. People like you are the reason we are the laughing stock to the world and lacking in science literacy on a global scale! Dark ages here we come. I can only hope this is your last term. Truly disappointing…” said another.
Bryant himself seems undisturbed by the opposition. Then again, this is a politician who posted a graphic with President Barack Obama and Osama Bin Lauden on his website with the text “What’s the difference? Just a little B.S.” He’s not exactly new to being the center of a firestorm of criticism.
Bryant makes no attempt to hide the fact that he is a full fledged Word of God is Truth believer, writing on his own website, “Just to be upfront with you, I am a creationist according to the literal account in the book of Genesis.” He also urged the school board not to allow “liberals” to teach evolution unchallenged in the school system in 2006. Now, his own personal belief system is going to be embedded in the state laws, despite the fact that it comes attached to a bill written by an 8-year-old who has a better grasp on science than he does.
The revised bill, with Bryant’s creationist addition, has passed the senate, keeping that 8-year-old’s dream alive. Too bad her scientific achievement got marred by one politician’s petty religious agenda.
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