Creationist Demands That Houston Museum Ban Atheists and Science Supporters

by Dan Quinn

OK, so who is being intolerant here?

Houston-area creationist David Shormann, author of The Exchange of Truth: Liberating the World from the Lie of Evolution, says members of several Houston organizations who support sound science education are intolerant, anti-Christian bigots. And he wants a Houston museum to bar those groups from using its facilities to educate the public about the war on evolution and science education.

That’s right: the guy who claims other people are intolerant wants the Houston Museum of Natural Science to ban groups he doesn’t like. What’s next? A book burning?

Shormann is upset because organizers from Houston Atheists, Humanists of Houston and Houston Oasis are renting space at the museum to host “Answers In Science: What On Earth Do We Know?” The event on Aug. 4 comes the day after the Texas Home School Coalition ends a three-day convention (in The Woodlands, north of Houston) that features militant creationist Ken Ham, the controversial founder of the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis.

Organizers of the Answers in Science event on Aug. 4 have lined up speakers to discuss what the scientific evidence says about evolution and how creationist activists and pressure groups are trying to distort what students learn about that science. Shormann, however, calls the event an “anti-religion meeting.” From his blog diatribe:

I am particularly disappointed that the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) does not seem to have a problem with making a profit off of such a religiously intolerant group. Not only are they attacking Christianity, they are attacking one man in particular, Ken Ham. It is un-American to support such religious intolerance and false claims that Christians are “anti-science”. Christians are not anti-chemistry, anti-physics, anti-biology, etc! I am sure that we would all make a lot more headway in scientific things if atheists showed a lot more tolerance for historical interpretations that differ from theirs, and focus on advancing testable, repeatable science instead.

If you are also disappointed that HMNS is profiting off of the anti-Christian “Answers in Science” meeting (you can see the sign announcing the meeting in the photo above), please consider contacting them to kindly but firmly express your displeasure.

Organizers of the event are “religiously intolerant”? That’s interesting because they have invited Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller to speak. We have had clergy members, including Christians and Jews, on our board since TFN was founded in 1995. Moreover, our Texas Faith Network includes hundreds of clergy from around the state who support  religious freedom, civil liberties and strong public schools. These clergy members see no conflict between faith in God and accepting the science of evolution. In fact, more than 200 have signed our clergy petition in support of teaching about evolution in science classrooms. (Clergy can sign on to the petition here.) The fact is, the Texas Freedom Network has long brought together people of faith as well as atheists and others who support sound science education.

Fortunately, the Houston Museum of National Science is refusing Shormann’s demand that it bar the science event from its facilities. The museum replied in the comments section of Shormann’s blog post, explaining that it would continue to honor the agreement with the event’s organizers:

While the viewpoints expressed may not synchronize with your personal beliefs, we do not find these sentiments “anti-Christian” only because as a museum – we do not have a position on any religion, politics or other topics of that nature. We rent space to a variety of groups, and, at times, it’s possible that their objectives may conflict.

Seems to us that the museum’s reply is a far better example of “tolerance” than a bully’s insistence that groups he doesn’t like be barred from that institution.

Shormann, by the way, served on a review panel when the State Board of Education adopted online science instructional materials for Texas public schools in 2011. He used his position to pressure one publisher to make scientifically flawed changes to sections on evolution in its materials. TFN helped stop that from happening.

If you want students to learn real science in their science classrooms — not discredited creationist arguments that will leave them unprepared for college and the jobs of the 21st century — then join thousands of Texans who have signed our Stand Up for Science petition here. The Texas Freedom Network will keep you informed about the textbook adoption this year and what you can do to stop anti-science fanatics from undermining the education of Texas kids.