Nelson McCausland ‘met creationists before museums request’
Culture Minister Nelson McCausland made his controversial calls for museums across Northern Ireland to give more recognition to creationism beliefs after meeting a group of Bible evangelists led by a fellow DUP man, it has emerged.
The Caleb Foundation, a group renowned for its staunch defence of the literal truth of the Bible story, said Mr McCausland penned a letter outlining his views to museum chiefs after meeting members of the group to hear their concerns.
The Culture Minister was last week accused of trying to interfere in the running of museums in the province after it emerged he wrote to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) asking them to give more prominence to Ulster-Scots and the Orange Order in exhibits.
Most controversially, he also asked for alternative views on the origin of the universe — including the creationism concept of God creating the universe in contrast to the scientific theory of evolution — to be represented in the exhibitions.
Chair of the Caleb Foundation, Wallace Thompson, a member of the DUP, confirmed a delegation met Mr McCausland late last year.
They said the minister was receptive to their concerns that the museum showed a “lack of balance which had tipped sideways so far, it had fallen right over”.
In a letter to Mr McCausland last April, the Foundation said it was “absolutely appalled” at the exhibits in the revamped Ulster Museum, which it described as “wholly misleading propaganda”.
The letter added: “Those who visit the Nature Zone, including impressionable young children, will be seriously misled and misinformed.”
The Nature Zone explores the widely-accepted scientific theory of evolution.
Mr Thompson told the Sunday Times that most of the Caleb group’s members were apolitical but added: “Devolution has helped us in that in a number of key departments, like finance, tourism, culture, arts and leisure, we have ministers sympathetic to where we are coming from.”
Mr McCausland denied his letter to the museum trustees had been prompted by meeting the Caleb Foundation delegation.
“All public bodies must take account of such matters as good relations, equality and human rights and it is my responsibility as Minister to remind arm’s-length bodies of these things.” He said the inclusion of anti-Darwinian theories was “a human-rights issue”.