The Honorable Dale Bumpers
United States Senator
New Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Senator Bumpers:
In my recent defense of Act 590 of 1981 (better known as the Creation-Science
Law), I had the opportunity to become acquainted with several of the world's
leading scientists who testified on behalf of both the State and the American
Civil Liberties Union. Of all the scientists involved on both sides of the lawsuit, no
one impressed me anymore than Robert Gentry, who for the past several years has
been a guest scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Oak Ridge,
Tennessee. This letter is written to bring to your attention Mr. Gentry's work
and to enlist your aid on his behalf.
Mr. Gentry's testimony at trial concerned the presence of radioactive polonium
halos in granite. The significance of these halos is that their presence in the
granites is fundamentally inconsistent with the conventional wisdom that the
granites underlying the earth's structure cooled over thousands of years. Mr.
Gentry is acknowledged as the world's foremost authority on this particular
From every indication available to me, Gentry's work at the National Laboratory
has been of a uniformly high quality and has added significantly to the
progress made at that facility. Furthermore, as a guest scientist, Gentry has
been paid only $1.00 per year by the government. (A college of which he is a faculty
member has paid his salary.) Thus, the government has been able to avail itself
of his services essentially free of charge.
However, Mr. Gentry has recently learned that his contract as a guest scientist
will not be renewed for next year. As one admittedly viewing these events from
afar, it appears to me that Gentry is being penalized for his generous offer of
assistance to help the State of Arkansas and his own religious beliefs. Bob Gentry
is very frank and forthright in stating his religious beliefs, of that there can
be no doubt. His religious beliefs are, however, irrelevant to the work which he
performs at Oak Ridge. His work in studying granites was recently quoted in the
Congressional Record in connection with a discussion of possible sites for
storage of low level radioactive wastes. [p. 266] Obviously, this is an important issue
and one on which Gentry has been on the cutting edge.
I want to ask for your assistance to assure that Robert Gentry will not be a
victim of religious discrimination at the hands of his supervisors. The Oak Ridge
National Laboratory, although operated by a private corporation under a contract,
is, as I understand it, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Energy.
I solicit your help in contacting the Energy Department through appropriate
channels and requesting that the decision to not renew Gentry's contract be
reviewed personally by the Secretary of Energy to assure that this decision
was based solely upon the merits of his work, and not upon the subjective prejudices
of his supervisors. It will be a sad day, indeed, if the First Amendment's guarantee
of freedom of religion and the supposed freedom of scientific inquiry have
both become hollow promises for men like Bob Gentry.
If I can supply you with any additional information regarding this matter,
Please call upon me at your convenience.