The leader of the world's largest organization of scientists said the suppression of some IMAX films because they run counter to religion threatens the integrity of science and public education.
Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science, sent a letter Monday to 410 members of the Association of Science-Technology Centers. The letter was prompted by recent reports that Imax theaters in at least a dozen U.S. cities have declined to show films that endorse the science of evolution.
"We are writing now to express strong concerns about increasing threats to science that endanger our shared missions and to offer our support and partnership in dealing with them," Leshner's letter said.
Some IMAX theatres have refused to show movies that mention evolution or the Big Bang because the ideas contradict the Bible, according to a March 19 article in The New York Times. The protests involve a dozen or fewer theaters, but the effect could be significant because only a few dozen IMAX theatres exhibit science documentaries.
"The desire not to antagonize audiences and to avoid negative business outcomes is entirely understandable," Leshner wrote. "Yet, the suppression of scientifically accurate information as a response to those with differing perspectives is inappropriate and threatens both the integrity of science and the broader public education to which we all are committed. It is also objectionable to many stakeholders-including many with strong religious convictions -- who understand that religion and science are not in opposition."
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