Smithsonian Institution Screens Anti-evolution Film for Money
In a shocking development, the "Discovery Institute" has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institute to offer a national premier screening of the anti-evolution film, The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe.
The Seattle-based Discovery Institute promotes the religious belief, "intelligent design", that supposedly explains how life came to be. In contrast, the Smithsonian Institution houses many fossils that support the scientific Theory of Evolution.
Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, said his organization approached the Smithsonian's public relations company and the museum staff asked to see the film. After watching the film, Chapman claims that "they liked it very much - and not only would they have the event at the museum, but they said they would co-sponsor it," he recalled. "That was their suggestion. Of course we're delighted."
In his zeal, Chapman obviously hasn't read the Smithonian's Special Events Policy carefully, which clearly states that the museum co-sponsors all events that result in "an unrestricted contribution to the National Museum of Natural History" (the Smithsonian Institution). The Policy also states that these gifts "help support the scientific and educational work of the Museum."
Randall Kremer, a museum spokesman seemed to confirm this policy when he said, "We're happy to receive this contribution from the Discovery Institute to further our scientific research."
This will undoubtedly be the first time that the Discovery Institute has ever supported any sort of evolutionary research.
The museum, Chapman acknowledged, offers rental of its Baird Auditorium to many organizations and corporations in return for contributions. The Discovery Institute paid $16,000 to the Smithsonian for use of the auditorium. In view of this, it is obvious that the Smithsonian accepted an "unrestricted contribution" from the Discovery Institute to fund museum research in exchange for co-sponsoring the screening of this film. So basically, the nation's premier museum was bought. For a mere $16,000.
But even more appalling, this film screening is a blatant disregard of the Smithonian's Special Events Policy, which goes on to state that "Personal events (i.e. weddings, etc.), fund raising events, and events of a religious or partisan political nature [italics mine] are not permitted."
It is obvious that the Smithsonian really screwed up.
But Chapman attempts to be cautious. "We are not implying in any sense that they endorsed the content, but they are co-sponsoring it, and we are delighted. We're not claiming anything more than that. They certainly didn't say, 'We're really warming up to intelligent design, and therefore we're going to sponsor this.' "
So it appears that this event will take place. Already, the Discovery Institute's director is announcing on their web site that they and the director of the Smithsonian "are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception" on June 23. But so far, this screening is not listed on the Smithsonian's online Calendar of Events. I wonder why? Because it's private? Or ... ?
All this leads me to ask what are the Smithsonian's Board of Trustees thinking? Is the nation's premier museum broke again? Or are they making yet another ethical miscalculation on behalf of the nation's troubled museum as they seek to protect their special funding status and restore their prestige?
This story has every appearance of being true, despite the source (the Discovery Institute) so we need to voice our opinion as loudly as possible regarding this event. At the very least, think carefully before renewing your annual membership!
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