I’m laying down the gauntlet with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Once again (as they did in 2016), the FFRF has blanketed public schools within driving distance of the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum with threatening letters to bully schools not to bring students to either attraction. FFRF claims that a public school group that visits our attractions would supposedly violate the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
In a letter sent out to over 1,000 school districts in five states, FFRF wrote:
Public schools and public school staff may not constitutionally organize trips to the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum or any other religious venue. . .
We are writing again because, unfortunately, Ken Ham, the evangelist who built these two notorious theme parks, continues to encourage public schools to plan field trips to visit the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. . .
Though Ham asserts that the law is on his side, this is untrue. Unquestionably, any field trip facilitated by a public school to either attraction would be unconstitutional. . .
In short, it is unacceptable to expose a captive audience of impressionable students to the overtly religious atmosphere of Ham’s Christian theme parks.
No, It’s Not Unconstitutional
As leading civil rights attorneys will tell you, if classes tour the Ark or museum in an objective fashion to supplement the teaching of world religions, literature, interpretation of history, etc., the field trip is an educational experience. Now, if students were brought to the Ark or museum and told by their teacher that the religious content should be accepted as truth, then we would acknowledge that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, as currently being interpreted by the courts, would be violated.
It is well established in the law that the Bible may be used in the classroom objectively, as part of a secular program of education.
As educators are aware, however, it is well established in the law that the Bible may be used in the classroom objectively, as part of a secular program of education. As long as the teacher doesn’t express a personal opinion about the Bible, there is no issue whatsoever.
As one of our attorneys who is an expert in constitutional law states:
If public schools were bringing students to the Ark and museum and declaring, ‘THIS interpretation is the only real truth that you should personally accept,’ then that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.
If classes are coming to the museum or Ark in an objective fashion, however, to show students world-class exhibits and one group’s interpretation of the origin of man and earth history, then the field trip is just fine as an exceptional and voluntary educational and cultural experience.
Public school officials should neither personally endorse nor diminish the museum’s view but should present it objectively.
Ultimately, it’s possible to attend the Creation Museum or Ark to teach rather than preach and to educate rather than indoctrinate.
Laying Down the Gauntlet
I want to offer admission free of charge to all those public schools who received the FFRF letter—and to any other public school in America—that want to bring their students to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum as an official school trip (as per how the First Amendment attorney described it above). And if the FFRF dares threaten or bully a public school, we have access to expert constitutional law attorneys who will provide their services to the school, pro bono, even if that means going all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Actually, I would like to see a case go to the Supreme Court so that these atheist bullies who have been wreaking havoc on civil liberties all across America can be stopped. Everyone needs to be reminded that the FFRF is actually a very small group of atheists who have been increasing their attacks on Christianity in America in an attempt to impose their atheistic worldview on all public schools and, in fact, the entire culture. Any public school official can contact Answers in Genesis to book your official public school outing to either the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum, or both.
I trust there will be some school leaders bold enough to stand up to this latest FFRF bullying attempt.