An 8-year-old’s proposal to designate an official South Carolina state fossil passed the House, only to be met with resistance from two Christian senators.

The idea came to third grader Olivia McConnell while she was reading a restaurant menu that showed all 50 official symbols of South Carolina, her home state. Noticing that “state fossil” was not included in the list, she wrote a letter to Rep. Robert Ridgeway and Sen. Kevin Johnson suggesting that the wooly mammoth could be given the new honor.

The suggestion was backed up by the fact that in 1725, a South Carolina plantation became the site of one of the first fossil discoveries in North America: a wooly mammoth’s teeth were discovered.

Additionally, all but seven states have state fossils.

Ridgeway and Johnson introduced a bill to include the Columbian Mammoth as the official state fossil of South Carolina, a proposition that the state House passed 94-3.

When the bill passed into the Senate, however, it was met with some resistance.

Sen. Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist and born-again Christian, proposed amending the bill to include three verses from the Book of Genesis. The passages he would include describe God’s creation of the Earth and all living creatures.

Bryant defended his proposal, saying, “I think it’s a good idea to designate the mammoth as the state fossil, I don’t have a problem with that. I just felt like it’d be a good thing to acknowledge the creator of the fossils.”

After Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell (no relation to Olivia) ruled the Bryant’s proposal out of order because it introduced a new subject, Bryant adjusted his amendment to be more on topic. He now specifically describes the Columbia Mammoth as “created on the Sixth Day with the beasts of the field.”

Sen. Mike Fair, who has previously blocked South Carolina from adopting new education standards regarding evolution, then placed an objection on the bill. Fair has also infamously previously attempted to keep South Carolina students from learning about Darwin, evolution and “critical thinking.”

Bryant’s take on Fair’s action is that Fair “had no intention of blocking the bill. He was just considering re-writing the amendment.” Bryant also stated that he, like Fair, supports the teaching of intelligent design, and stated that the issue at hand is “symbolic.”

The bill is currently on hold.


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