First Amendment Case Ruled for SI

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The United States Court of Appeals rules that two exhibition areas in the National Museum of Natural History that focus on the scientific theory of evolution do not violate the First Amendment requirement of separation of church and state. The decision, which affirmed the decision of a lower court in Washington, also reported that the SI did not support or endorse any one religion by presenting exhibits with material on the evolutionary process. The suit was brought against the SI by Dale Crowley, Jr., a fundamentalist minister and executive director of the National Foundation for Fairness in Education in 1978, alleging that the use of federal funds in MNH exhibits, specifically 'the Dynamics of Evolution' (1979) and 'Ice Age Mammals and the Emergence of Man' (1974) was a violation of the separation of church and state.


  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • United States Courts of Appeals


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 371, Box 3, "The Torch," January 1981, p. 3.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


October 30, 1980


  • Controversies
  • Religion
  • Exhibitions

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