Eagle Scout ordered to take God out of park project
From 9 News (Denver)
written by: John Fosholt , Producer/Photographer
ARVADA (Colorado) - Fourteen-year-old Jonathan Griesinger says he wanted people to think about the origins of the universe when they stroll by his planetary walk along Van Bibber Creek.
A jogger disagreed.
Griesinger designed and installed a series of 10 stones along the trail through the Stenger Athletic Complex. The first represents the sun and the rest are engraved with the names of the nine planets. The stones are spaced in proportion to the planets' actual distances from the sun. Pluto, the farthest stone, is about a half-mile from the starting point near 58th Avenue and Oak Street.
Griesinger also placed an 11th stone that he has been ordered to remove. The stone is engraved with a Bible verse that says, "The heavens declare the glory of God."
"I wanted to put that in," Jonathan said, "because the universe is huge, and I think there's got to be somebody who created it, who's behind all this."
After the project was finished in August, a jogger noticed the 11th stone and complained to Arvada that it is "an infusion of religion into an educational display on public park property."
Arvada owns the park, but city officials said the proposal they were given does not mention of the "God stone."
Griesinger and his family say they negotiated the planetary walk project with North Jeffco Park and Recreation District, which manages the park for Arvada. Director Mike Miles says he knows of no agreement allowing the reference to God, but Griesinger's father George has an Eagle Scout project proposal that describes the stone in detail. The proposal was signed by Scout leaders and by an employee of the Recreation District.
"The city is not arguing with the message on the stone in any way," said Arvada spokesperson Maria VanderKolk. "But the personal expression is not appropriate on public property."
Arvada officials asked the Griesingers to remove the stone with the reference to God, and the family complied.
"There's a real problem in our culture," said George Griesinger. "Somebody can be offended by something, and be able, with a sin gle complaint, to turn a whole city against us."