Saturday, August 16, 2014

State-Run New Mexico Museum Scrambled to Cover Up Collaboration with Atheistic Groups

In previous articles this week (here and here) we saw that New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS) worked with atheist groups to put on 2014 Darwin Day events that included anti-religious lectures. While the taxpayer-funded and publicly operated museum actively outreached to evolutionary atheist groups to involve them in the events, the partnership excluded participation by groups with other viewpoints, raising serious constitutional questions about freedom of speech and state endorsement of a religious belief, namely atheism. That's bad enough. The situation was made more egregious by a subsequent cover up by the museum, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Here's what happened. Concerned citizen James Campbell saw flyers distributed by the museum showing this collaboration. On February 3, 2014, he filed an inquiry with the governor of New Mexico, asking, "Is it appropriate for a state-funded museum to join forces with organizations such as the Humanist Society and the Freedom from Religion group to promote an anti-religious agenda?"
Dr. Campbell (who holds a PhD in physics) continued:
The agenda for the NMMNH[S] program on Darwin includes a talk by Ron Herman from Freedom from Religion, Albuquerque, who will compare science and religion to decide which is "false or corrupt and dangerous." It seems unlikely that he will conclude that science is "false or corrupt and dangerous." Jerry Gilbert of the Humanist Society of New Mexico will make a presentation in which he will talk about "religious extremists." Are these appropriate presentations to be sponsored by the State of New Mexico through its Museum of Natural History and Science?
Those anti-religious lectures were scheduled to take place at the museum on Wednesday, February 12. But after receiving Campbell's letter, the museum's top staff, including the director, scrambled to find a way to distance itself from the lectures, making it look as if the museum was only sponsoring the Darwin Day events on Sunday, February 9.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for printing this article. The repression of religion takes place throughout the world and clandestinely here in the U.S., at the highest levels of state and federal government. The public school system is another one that works in the shadows on the text books required by schools. One day those entities will take out their sword to enforce their belief in a non-religious world.

LochTower said...

Do any state agencies collaborate with any religious organizations? If so, there's no reason not to collaborate with atheist organizations as well. If not, though, it is inappropriate.