BOISE, Idaho – Organizers of an “Origin Summit” to celebrate creationism are upset because Boise State’s student newspaper, The Arbiter, refuses to sell ad space to promote the two-day event.
“The law is clear on this. Student editors are empowered to use their editorial judgement in deciding what to print, and that includes ads,” Seth Ashley, communications professor and adviser for The Arbiter, told Boise Weekly.
Ashley’s comments support student editors’ decision to ban ads for three groups working to promote “Origin Summit” – Creation Summit Inc., the Northwest Science Museum and Engage Truth. But the decision seemed to be based on objections to the ideas behind the event, rather than a specific editorial policy.
Creation Summit Executive Director Mike Smith told the news site the group contacted The Arbiter at the beginning of the school year to inquire about ad space for the Origin Summit, which will be held at the Boise State Special Events Center next Monday and Tuesday.
“If the paper had said, ‘Sorry, our ad space was all sold-out,’ that would have been one thing. But that’s not what they said. They told us that our content wasn’t acceptable,” Smith said. “But they never saw an ad. They saw our website and made a decision based on that.”
“We actually contacted The Arbiter at the beginning of the school year,” Northwest Science Museum executive director Doug Bennett told Boise Weekly. “They told us, ‘Due to content, we choose not to run your ad.’”
The Creation Summit website explains what the organization is all about.
“From the first grade on our children are brainwashed with the Darwinian dogma while the state refuses any mention of Creation whatsoever,” the site reads. “Though all the evidence supports Creation, that evidence has been swept under the rung and hidden from view.”
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“We may have been banned from the classroom, but banned does not mean silenced. By booking the speakers, and renting the facilities we still have an impact,” according to “The Strategy” posted to the site. “Creation Summit is visiting major college and university campuses throughout the country, bring world renowned scientists before the students.
“Scientists with tangible proof and viable evidence. Many, for the first time ever, are discovering that the Bible is true – That science and Genesis are in total agreement.”
The site explains that Creation Summit is a free event aimed at all students, everywhere, unlike a lot of Creation Conferences that are geared toward those who already believe in Creationism.
Creation Summit sent an email to Idaho media expressing disappointment in the student newspaper’s decision to block out ads for the event, but acknowledged The Arbiter staff likely has the legal right to do so.
“We have contacted an attorney and yes, the law is on your side,” the news release read.
Boise Weekly also pointed to guidelines published by the national Student Press Law Center that content “Students are private individuals and can accept or reject ads for virtually any reason.”
“The First Amendment right resides with the press in this case,” Ashley, The Arbiter adviser, told Boise Weekly.