A mammoth debate in South Carolina

Was the mammoth "created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field"? According to the Senate version of House Bill 4482 in South Carolina, it was.

HB 4482, as introduced in the House on January 14, 2014, designated the woolly mammoth as the official state fossil of South Carolina. According to The State (April 2, 2014), the proposal was due to eight-year-old paleontology enthusiast Olivia McConnell, in part because "its teeth were one of the first vertebra[t]e fossils found in North America, dug up by slaves on a South Carolina plantation in 1725."

Amended to specify that the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) would be the official state fossil, HB 4482 passed the House on a 94-3 vote on February 19, 2014, and proceeded to the Senate. The Senate Committee on Judiciary tinkered slightly with the language of the bill, but reported it favorably to the Senate. When the bill reached the Senate floor in late March 2014, however, controversy ensued.

On March 25, 2014, while HB 4482 was under discussion, Kevin L. Bryant (R-District 3) sought to amend the bill to designate Genesis 1:24-25, which describes the sixth day of creation, as the official state passage from an ancient historical text. His amendment was ruled out of order as introducing "new and independent matter." NPR (April 2, 2014) reported that Bryant explained on his website, "I attempted to recognize the creator."

Regrouping, Bryant sought to amend the bill to add "as created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field" after each instance of "mammoth." He told the Greenville News (April 1, 2014), "Since we're dealing with the fossil of the woolly mammoth then this amendment would deal with the beginning of the woolly mammoth." He also suggested that the bill would survive constitutional scrutiny "because it doesn't point to a single religion."

The bill with Bryant's amendment, along with a further amendment establishing "a moratorium on the enactment of legislation establishing official state symbols and emblems," proposed by a senator who told The State, "It's past time for the state of South Carolina to recognize we have enough state official whatevers," was passed by the Senate on a 35-0 vote on April 2, 2014. 

The bill now returns to the House, which, as The State reports, "could approve the Senate's changes or reject them, sending the idea to a House-Senate conference committee."