Fossil mammoth bill passes South Carolina legislature, with creationist rider!

April 4, 2014 • 12:09 pm

On March 30 I wrote a bit about the kerfuffle in the South Carolina legislature, which was squabbling over whether to make the Wooly Mammoth (called the “Columbian Mammoth”) the state fossil.  This was a suggestion of an eight-year-old girl, Olivia McConnell, who had written to her legislators suggesting the new symbol.  But two Republicans held up the bill, trying to add creationist amendments and descriptions, and it looked as if the whole thing would fail.

But now, according to USA Today, the bill has passed, and, pending the governor’s signature, the mammoth is on its way to becoming the Official State Fossil. It passed the state Senate, the state House, and apparently will soon become law.

But there’s one slight problem. You can see the whole bill below (also found here). Take a look at the amendment in Section 1.

Picture 3

Yep, that’s right, folks: the Mammoth is enshrined in law as having been “created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.” And that’s not intelligent design creationism, it’s pure, literalist young-earth creationism. It’s PURE INSANITY!

How did it happen? USA Today reports;

Before Fair’s objection, state Sen. Kevin Bryant tried unsuccessfully to insert a Bible verse into H 4482. This week, the Republican from Anderson, S.C., put forth a new amendment that was adopted, referring to the animal “as created on the sixth day with the beasts of the field.”

“I think it’s an appropriate time to acknowledge the creator,” he said.

Actually, that’s better than the previous amendment, which quoted verbatim three verses from Genesis referring to the creation.

There’s some slight pushback, but it doesn’t seem too vocal:

Rick Hahnenberg, a spokesman for the Upstate South Carolina chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he’s concerned that legislators’ actions on the state fossil issue have been a continuation of a push for religion to be inserted into the science curriculum.

“Obviously we want to have good science standards in South Carolina,” he said.

I’m torn. Olivia wants her state fossil, but is this the way to give it to her? Will the Governor of South Carolina, Republican Nikki Haley, sign a bill that by its very nature flouts the U.S. Constitution? Will some courageous legislator take out that amendment? Will the Freedom from Religion foundation oppose this Biblical language in a state law?

Stay tuned as the craziness continues below the Mason-Dixon Line.

h/t: Greg Mayer

66 thoughts on “Fossil mammoth bill passes South Carolina legislature, with creationist rider!

    1. I laugh at your country! 😛

      Well, honestly no, this kind of nonsense in the US isn’t good for anyone, American or not. Makes one feel so mad, maybe I should run around with guns in an airport… in Georgia where it will soon be legal!

  1. Oh well, Olivia gets her fossilized mammoth, and the senators get their fossilized ideas. Eight years old is a bit young though, to get such a clear read-out of exactly how stupid people can be.

    1. Well, I’m in my 40’s and still constantly blindsided by it, so maybe it’ll do her good to prepare for it early.

  2. Watch. How many times have atheists been told they’re not TRUE atheists if they use money with “In God We Trust” on it because that acknowledges God? Lots.

    Now they’re going to say “well if you’re an atheist, then I guess you can’t celebrate the State Fossil of South Carolina because the Columbian Mammoth was created on the sixth day with the other beasts of the field!”

    Checkmate, atheists!

      1. Probably, but even if it is it obviously is not enforced much since people write and stamp things on paper money and smash pennies into local souvenirs.

        1. The law is that it is illegal to deface currency (although there are no legal penalties, just as defacing the flag is illegal but there are no legal penalties) it is not illegal to destroy currency or coins (i.e. render them unspendable)

      2. My understanding is that it’s not a crime to deface coins or paper bills as long as there’s no attempt to defraud (changing a 1 to a 10, for example.) I have friends who routinely cross out the “under God” on their bills — some of them even use a stamp made for the purpose and available online ( it substitutes some other phrase, I forget what.)

        I don’t know anyone though who is dedicated enough to scratch out coins, but there’s probably people out there who do.

        The “You’re not a true atheist because you use money which acknowledges God” argument is a strange one. Apparently they think that atheists somehow compromise their beliefs or by default admit they really do believe in God if they handle any money which has the magic symbol on it. Perhaps they think that the decision to deal with anything which says something we don’t believe in is equivalent to Christian martyrs being commanded to renounce Jesus and swear fealty to the Roman emperor or something. If we give in, then we’ve failed the test of faith.

        More often the “under God” is used to prove that the US is a Christian Nation which graciously and generously tolerates atheists who respect the fact that they are in someone else’s land. How could that phrase be there — be the US official MOTTO — if God has no business in government?? They got us there.

        1. I’ve heard a few people say something of this sort and it is bizarre.

          I’m not terribly keen on the idea of crossing it out or anything like that. As for the stamps, I’ve seen money stamped with information for that online dollar tracking thing. I think I’ve seen random other things stamped on money. I’m sort of surprised that it isn’t more common. I’d half expect most of the money in circulation now to have Bible verses and political statements written all over it, but most of it seems free of alterations. I wonder if it is because people think they will get in trouble or out of some reverence for currency itself? I know it’s not because people aren’t willing to be pushy with their ideas.

          1. Money is taken out of circulation when it gets to a bank after having been spent just once or twice. Nobody does this much anymore, but if you go to a bank to cash a check, most of the bills you will receive will be brand new and the bills that aren’t new will be clean and crisp.

        2. Those people believe in magic, especially the power of words, most especially the power of names. You remember all those children’s stories and the like about people having secret names that only the parents and the shaman know, that get revealed to the child in a special ceremony, and that evil forces can use to compel them if they ever learn the secret name? That’s the sort of thinking we’re dealing with, only with “God” being the super-powerful magic name.

          Mix in an healthy dose of Biblical “Any spell^Wprayer you cast^Wsay in the name of Jesus will work^Wbe granted,” and Bob’s yer uncle.


      1. Sounds like Jesus does that a lot. Dude seriously needs to get laid.

        …I am properly interpreting the vernacular of, “to kill a kitten,” right? The modern version of chicken-choking, no?


        1. Damn, you’re on to me. Killing kittens is indeed diametrically opposed to petting pussies. And I thought only people with a pubic health background knew these things…

  3. What’s so hard about naming a state fossil? Does every bill have to have a Bible reference? If not, then why a fossil?

    Does the state flower, the state tree, the state bird, also include religious references?

    Wow, a simple request to designate a fossil, and some legislators have to cram their religion into the bill.

    What would have happened if they had just simply named a state fossil without references to Genesis?

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    1. The idiot legislators who did this don’t want it to look like SC is officially down with legitimate paleontology, because that would contradict their precious bible.

      Trees and flowers do not present this problem for idiot lawmakers.

  4. My condolences to all rational, educated people in South Carolina. This level of buffoonery belongs in a circus, not in the State Legislature.

  5. I’m torn. Olivia wants her state fossil, but is this the way to give it to her?

    On balance, I’d say yes. Nobody is going to voluntarily use the extra language the legislature wants them to use. Its not going to appear on SC informational pamphlets or national park brochures. And if the legislature ever insists that it must, I think the courts would rule it unconstitutional immediately.

    As I see it, the legislature just passed a good bill with an unconstitutional rider attached to it that will never be implemented. Which is worse than just a plain good bill, but which, sadly, I’d guess is probably not that rare in our form of government.

  6. Well, if it passes, at least South Carolina will possess a state fossil directly proportional to its Creationist stupidity.

  7. Oh, you think this is insane, do you? This is just one small manifestation of what I consider to be a cosmic problem in this country.

    Check the two pages below. Produced by the Secular Coalition for America, they rate each Senator and Rep. for their understanding and compliance with Church/State separation issues fro the 2013 Congres.

    Illinois is safe territory but neighboring Indiana is a cesspool. Nearly the entire country earns an “F.” South Carolina is perhaps the deepest cesspool in the whole country. Don’t forget, these jackasses still proudly show the confederate flag at their Statehhouse and celebrate Slavery tourism.

    There’s really only one general conclusion that I could come to: we’re shovelin’ shit against a tsunami.

  8. Wow! Plus they put in a moratorium on such legislation after the act is passed – presumably to prevent any amendments.

    We could see it another way, they clearly feel the pressure, these are acts borne of dissonance.

  9. Looking forward to the law requiring the posting of Leviticus restrictions against eating swine above all BBQ joints in that state. Not holding my breath.

  10. How do they know that the columbian mammoth was created on the sixth day? Were they there? Perhaps the columbian mammoth–along with the woolly mammoth, the mastodon, modern elephants (African & Indian)and all the other pachyderms past and present–micro-evolved out of the original heffalump kind that was created on the sixth day. It would be wrong to say that it was created on the sixth day if it didn’t micro-evolve until after the flood. We need an expert opinion–someone contact Keith Ham, quick!

  11. For what it’s worth, the commentary on politician Bryant’s bl*g has been almost uniformly negative. One woomeister, one whiny baby jesus “my religion is right and everyone else’s is wrong” freak; but pretty much everyone else pointing out not only that the amendment is idiotic, but that it is clearly unconstitutional as well.

    Can you believe that WordPress’ spell check is questioning the word “woomeister”?

  12. Do I have to feel like a horrible person if my first reaction was to question the point in expending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in public officials’ staff time to humor a little girl? Can we just get over all of this wooly human interest crap or at least suspend it until some of our actual problems are solved?

      1. You may not be a horrible person, but here you’ve been a rude and uncivil one. I don’t take well to people telling me what to write or not write about, and your dissing “wooly human interest crap” is unacceptable.

        I suggest you find some other website to frequent as I don’t want you one mine. If you tender an apology you might be allowed to comment further.

    1. The way I read Chrysoprase, I thought s/he was referring to the state legislature as the body that should not be wasting time on these issues when there are so many other, better priorities. I did not think the comment referred to the posting here, which just serves to point out what s/he’s talking about.

      Personally I see no harm in humoring the girl as long as it can be done expeditiously. It was the creationists who blew it into a whole big deal wasting everyone’s time, not to mention tax revenue.

      1. +1

        I guess a state fossil is defensible, fossils have a certain gravitas about them (so long as they’re not coprolites).

        But I found a site –
        and you really have to wonder about some of them. The official state snack food of Illinois is popcorn? (I suppose it coulda been worse, coulda been KFC…)

  13. Easy resolution. Kill the bill. There is no need for a “state fossil”. There seem to be enough already in the state legislature.

  14. Olivia McConnell is a student at South Carolina Academy. Her view is encapsulated by a quote from “South Carolina Now”: “They added the biblical verbiage and there’s supposed to be a separation between government and the church.” Smart girl.

    Kevin Bryan, author of the amendment, is state representative from Anderson, SC. Anderson is just across the Savannah River from Hartsville, GA, home of “straight from the pit of hell” Paul Broun. Helps ‘splain things.

  15. SO, the (real) mammoth is NOT the State Fossil of SC. Only mammoths created on the sixth day (of what?) need apply. All other mammoths are officially Not The State Fossil of South Carolina.

    Presumably just one mammoth in 365 could qualify – those whose parents got lucky on january 6th? (or whatever date the Sixth Day is defined as). While, in respect of any particular fossil mammoth, it’s date of conception is an absolute objective fact, it seems doubtful whether the science of dating will ever be able to establish it. So the SC legislature has created a mystery – like the Unknown Soldier, the identity of the Official Fossil Mammoth will always be unknown.

    Kinda poetic.

  16. I’m sorry, but I’m having a problem getting my mind past the image of a Creationist riding through town on the back of a mammoth. Like an abnormally stupid mahout.
    One of the US political parties takes an elephant as it’s symbol (while the other has an ass – don’t ask me which is the pachyderm and which is the porn star), which raises prospect for further satire.

    1. It’s the Democans and the Republicrats who fight over the elephant’s ass. Not that you do or should care…any more than I could tell you which Duma faction supported Gorbachev….


  17. There is a non-referring definite description, “the Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field”. (“The Columbian Mammoth” does refer to something, but there are no Columbian mammoths created in the manner stated.) On Bertrand Russell’s reading, “The CM, which was created … is designated as the official State Fossil of SC”, is false. On Peter Strawson’s reading, it expresses no proposition, true or false. Either reading results in South Carolina having no state fossil.

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