Even though one of the Grand Canyonís trails is called "Bright Angel," and some of its formations are named after Hindu gods, the National Park Service decided that the canyonís 30-year-old plaques displaying biblical psalms were in violation of the Constitution and removed them this July 9th.
The bronze plaques which quoted Psalms 68:4; 66:4 and 104:24 no longer grace Hermitís Rest, Lookout Studio and Desertview Tower - popular viewing areas for the Grand Canyonís South Rim.
"The Department of Interior determined that the plaques were not appropriate for federal public facilities," said Maureen Oltrogge, spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon National Park. "The First Amendment prohibits the government from supporting a particular religion. Itís a difficult issue, but it is supported by numerous court decisions."
The plaques are going to be cleaned, and then returned to the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, a German order with a U.S. branch in Phoenix, which originally placed the signs on the buildings at each of the locations in the late 1960s.
In a prepared statement, members of the sisterhood expressed their surprise at the action. "We were stunned when we heard the news that our three Scripture plaques at the Grand Canyon were suddenly removed. These plaques have inspired many of the awestruck beholders to admire and acknowledge the Creator of this majestic landscape spread before their eyes," the statement read. They have requested the plaques be returned in hopes of finding an alternative location.
"Letters of concern" and a recent inquiry by the American Civil Liberties Union prompted the park officialsí decision to have the plaques removed.