That’s a monument of the Ten Commandments. I would have no problem if that monument was up at a local church.
But what was it doing at the Oakland Zoo? That’s what Joey Piscitelli wanted to know when he wrote a letter to zoo officials back in May:
My name is Joey Piscitelli, and I am a supporter of the Oakland Zoo, and have attended several events at the zoo, including weddings and other occasions at the “Snow Building”, located on the Zoo property; which you authoritatively rent out to the public as an event center.
I am also a supporter of 1st Amendment rights, freedom of religious choice, and equality. To my shock, I was very disappointed to see that the City of Oakland displays a very large monument at the Snow Building entitled: “The Ten Commandments”. This monument is categorically a Christian symbol; and a blatant pronouncement of adherence to the Bible and the belief in the Christian God.
“Disappointment” seems like a good word for the feeling I have about it, too. “Outrage” or “offended,” not so much. But there’s no reason for the monument to be there.The East Bay Atheists and the Atheist Advocates of San Francisco had planned a protest at the zoo this coming weekend.
Thankfully, there’s no longer a reason for it (and the atheists are calling it off) because zoo officials have agreed to remove it:
Joel Parrott, the zoo’s executive director, said that the stone plaque marking Christian tradition was at odds with a zoo — and a diverse region.
“We try to be very sensitive to the community, so that we can be inclusive,” said Parrott. “This wasn’t the right location for that type of thing.”
Parrott said the plaque had been on the site since 1966, when the land was a state park. In 1977, it became a city park, Knowland Park. He said sensitivity for visitors was the only reason for its removal.
“It was never unconstitutional or illegal and it wasn’t removed for legal reasons,” he said.
If it was legal — and I don’t know that it was — it was still an unnecessary blight on the premises. I wish the atheists didn’t have to work so hard to get officials to realize that, but good on them for getting this done. The monument made as little sense as having a Christian cross or Scarlet A near the lions’ den. As if the animals have a religious faith?
(By the way, I hope you appreciate how I’m completely ignoring the whole “Zoo director is named Parrott” angle here.)
Cue mock outrage from conservative Christians who think their rights are being trampled on…
(Thanks to Bob for the link!)