On July 14, 2003, the following news item appeared:
"PHOENIX (Reuters) -- After more than three decades at the Grand Canyon, three bronze plaques inscribed with biblical passages have been removed by U.S. park officials. . . .
"Officials said they had no choice but to remove the plaques from three popular spots at the majestic canyon's busy South Rim after an inquiry was made by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"'They are religious plaques on federal buildings and that's not allowed based on the law,' said Maureen Oltrogge, a Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman. . . . "
Normally, such an item would elicit little public interest. But for one American, this obscure news item was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
This country is in the midst of its second civil war. It only differs from the first civil war in that it is, thank God, non-violent. But the passions are as deep, and the stakes are just as high.
Among the stakes is whether America will remain a Judeo-Christian country with a secular government or become a secular country with a secular government. Organizations such as the ACLU (and your local university) devote massive funds and effort to changing the nature of this country; and with the help of like-minded judges, often prevail.
That the ACLU would write a letter protesting three little plaques at the Grand Canyon with verses from the book of Psalms provides a clear example of how intent the organization is on destroying the Judeo-Christian moral foundations of this society. This, after all, is the same ACLU that went to court in Florida to protect a Muslim woman's right to be photographed for her driver's license ID wearing a veil! If it ain't Judeo-Christian, the ACLU is a big fan of religion.
The story also reveals another typical problem: the fear organizations, including governmental ones, have of taking on the ACLU. Given the amount of money and manpower it would take to fight the ACLU, and given the likelihood of facing a judge with ACLU-like values, why bother fighting? So the National Park Service just lay down and surrendered.
And that is how things would have remained.
But I was incensed that the National Park Service of the United States of America would remove plaques acknowledging God as the author of natural beauty ("How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all; the earth is full of your creatures" was the subversive inscription on one of the plaques). I therefore devoted an hour of my radio show to this subject on the day the news item appeared, and asked my listeners (especially those who hear me on KKNT in Phoenix and KVOI in Tucson) to send me an e-mail if they were prepared to join me on a march to the Grand Canyon. I also urged all my listeners to call the Park Service in Washington, D.C.
I also contacted Arizona State Sen. Robert Blendu, an influential figure in Arizona politics, who had introduced himself to me as a listener to my radio show. He told my listeners to write him (written letters, he said, are more effective than e-mail among politicians) and he would pass these letters onto Washington. They did, and he and I have been overwhelmed by the response -- from secular as well as religious Americans. You don't have to be religious to worry about the consequences of destroying the Judeo-Christian foundations of America.
And we have overcome.
"PHOENIX, July 23 (AP) -- Bronze plaques displaying Bible verses removed from Grand Canyon National Park after a query from the American Civil Liberties Union were returned to the Park Wednesday."
The article notes that this is not necessarily permanent. The Park Service is still awaiting rulings from higher authorities. Further calls to the Park Service and e-mails to me (through www.dennisprager.com) are therefore still critical.
But it is clear that the Grand Canyon can become a turning point in this, the second American civil war. When we fight back, we can win. If plaques quoting the most esteemed work of this civilization are deemed illegal at the Grand Canyon, we are doomed.
It is worth noting that no Jewish or Christian organization has ever protested the Hindu names of some of the peaks in the Grand Canyon, and no religious group would ever oppose posting American Indian sayings at such a place. Once again, the secular left shows itself to be far more intolerant than the religious right.
The left will win and America will lose only if we do not fight them. Let the Grand Canyon plaques be our rallying cry.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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