7.09.2005

Creationism Aborted from Tulsa Zoo

Board Nixes Creationism Show at Oklahoma Zoo

from Associated Press

Tulsa, Okla. - A city board reversed direction on Thursday and rejected plans to add a creationist exhibit to the Tulsa Zoo.

Board members voted 3-1 against installing an exhibit on the origin of life from the Bible. The vote, made at a special meeting of the board, reversed a June 7 decision to add a Genesis story to the zoo.

Dale McNamara, who voted against the display at the June meeting and again on Thursday, told the packed house of onlookers that she carefully considered her vote.

"My 'no' vote was, on reflection, absolutely correct," she said.

As one of only nine "living museums" in the country, the Tulsa Zoo should develop displays that explain the cultural significance of animals, McNamara said. She said an elephant-like stone statue of a Hindu god near the elephant exhibit fit within that mission.

The statue has been one of the key items in the fight over Genesis display. Tulsa resident Dan Hicks had argued for the creationism display as a balance to other religious items at the zoo.

Hicks, an architect, had agreed to pay for a Genesis exhibit and came to Thursday's meeting with a 5-foot by 3-foot plan for the display as he envisioned it.

Hicks said he wasn't pleased by the board's solution on Thursday.

"This board has deviated from their past practice of allowing religious displays to be erected at the Tulsa zoo without censorship by voting today to censor the Genesis account of creation and in doing so has stepped on the constitutional liberties of Tulsa taxpayers," Hicks said.

The board's original decision to include a biblical story on the Earth's origin had divided residents and thrown Tulsa into the national spotlight.

In the meantime, Hicks said the zoo continues to have a representation of a Hindu god, a globe sculpture that promotes pantheism, and a Maasai display that contains the equivalent of posting Scripture. Presenting this material represented an affront to the majority Christian population of Tulsa.

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