Guess who’s coming to town? No, it’s not Santa Claus. But in a way, it’s sort of like a fictional Santa Claus! You see, people with a fictitious message are coming to town.
Recently, the group American Atheists announced they are bringing their annual conference to Cincinnati during Easter 2019! And from what we’ve heard from reliable sources, they particularly want to be in our area because this is where Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum are located.
We’ve also heard about some of the possible things the atheists might be planning in their attempts to oppose our creation-gospel ministry. So while the atheists are running their conference, we’ve decided to hold our own conference. Titled “Answering Atheists—an AiG Easter Conference,” this four-day event will be held at the Ark Encounter’s new Answers Center. We will equip Christians to answer the skeptics and to effectively share the truth of God’s Word and its life-changing gospel message.
Our conference will begin Wednesday, April 17, and end with an Easter sunrise service. Our special guest speaker will be evangelist Ray Comfort, founder of Living Waters ministry. For the Easter morning service, parking will be free, and there will be no charge for people to come to the service at the Ark Encounter site.
For the Easter morning service, parking will be free, and there will be no charge for people to come to the service at the Ark Encounter site.
Aggressive Atheists and Their Unconstitutional Demands
Recent research shows that atheism is taking an ever-increasing hold on our younger generations. Atheists are becoming more aggressive than ever, being emboldened by the exodus of young people from the church. More and more, they have an ally in evolutionary humanists who want to indoctrinate students in our public education system and through the media. Sadly, much of the church has not taught apologetics to these young people, so they’ve grown up in an environment that has led them to doubt, and ultimately disbelieve, the Scriptures.
These atheists have fought hard (and continue to fight) against AiG, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum. For the third time since the Ark’s opening, atheists protested outside the Ark Encounter and mocked God’s Word. They’ve also continued to spread lies about the Ark (e.g., how it was funded) in their attempts to malign the ministry in the public eye.
Just recently, the American Atheists sent a letter to public schools in Kentucky (and we presume other states in our region such as Indiana and Ohio), making a number of threats and demands. Their letter is excerpted here:
Dear School Administrator . . . As the Kentucky state director for American Atheists, a national organization with more than 350,000 members and supporters across the country and thousands here in Kentucky, I would like to highlight a number of issues that have been previously brought to my attention regarding the constitutional and legal obligations of public school employees and administrators . . . .
Of particular concern in our area, school or teacher organized trips to the nearby Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are unconstitutional violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
In 2016, the aggressive anti-Christian group Freedom from Religion Foundation sent letters to public schools in our area threatening legal action if students were taken to our Ark.
Nate Kellum, a constitutional attorney from the Center for Religious Expression, has a very different point of view. He was one of our attorneys in AiG’s battle against the State of Kentucky when the (former) governor refused to allow the Ark Encounter to participate in a tourism tax incentive. Praise God, we won decisively in federal court. Nate wrote the following in response to the recent American Atheists’ letter:
Although American Atheists’ careless, overbearing approach to the law is unsurprising, it has become tiresome. They continue to cry wolf, and rely on empty threats, while they know (or should know) their legal position lacks merit.Any Kentucky school organizing a trip to the Creation Museum or Ark Encounter is well within constitutional bounds.
Having thoroughly reviewed the situation and binding precedent, we can assure that any Kentucky school organizing a trip to the Creation Museum or Ark Encounter is well within constitutional bounds. The absolutist approach advanced by AA – i.e., schools must avoid anything remotely religious at all costs – has been uniformly rejected by the Supreme Court. Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 678 (1984).
The basic principle is that “the First Amendment does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.” Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 105 (1968).
But American Atheists would have schools to do just that: categorically prevent any excursion to a museum or theme park solely because atheists disagree with views they express.
The Supreme Court has recognized that “there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause [of the First Amendment] forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect.” Santa Fe Indep. Sch. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 302 (2000). (Emphasis in the original.)
According to Nate, a balanced approach would simply involve giving students an opportunity to view and take in world-renowned exhibits located in their own backyard, without over-zealous school officials either endorsing the messages or censoring them altogether. This tempered method is not only the right thing to do, it is the constitutional thing to do.
Because the law is on our side, we are working on a way to see if we can help public schools have students visit the Ark. More on this effort will be announced later, but even now, please pray as we work through this. Really, this is a battle over freedom of speech and religion—over the rights guaranteed to us by the First Amendment!
Atheist groups intimidate school leaders and public officials with threats of lawsuits in their effort to restrict the freedom of speech and freedom of religion (really, Christianity). They threaten like this so they can impose their religion of atheism on the education system and generations of kids. We must “contend for the faith” by fighting against these ongoing attacks! AiG has had to engage in a number of such battles over the years, and we will continue to do so.
“Do Not Be Surprised, Brothers”
Ever since we started Answers in Genesis, built the Creation Museum, and opened the Ark, we seem to face one battle after another! It never ends. But then again, that’s what we should expect if we are actively doing what God’s Word instructs us:
- To engage in the business of the King until He comes (Luke 19:13)
- To give answers (apologetics) for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15)
- To contend for the faith (Jude 3)
- To proclaim the gospel (Mark 16:15)
- To make disciples (Matthew 28:19)
In fact, if we didn’t have to face such ongoing battles, I would be worried about what the ministry was really doing. After all, God’s Word tells us:
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. (Psalm 44:5)
Proclaiming a Message of Hope
You have to feel sorry for these atheists. All they do is try to tear down rather than build up—and lead generations to a Christ-less eternity! They have such a negative, meaningless message: “There is no God, life has no ultimate meaning or purpose, and when you die you cease to exist—so become an atheist!” They are lost souls. We need to pray earnestly for them.
In the meantime, AiG continues to publish books and curricula, produce DVDs, reach millions through our websites with powerful answers, run conferences, and attract millions to our world-class Christian-themed attractions. The ministry is impacting millions with the wonderful message of the real meaning and purpose of life as we exalt Christ in all we do.
So while the atheists offer a message of hopelessness, AiG boldly proclaims a message of hope! Nowhere is this hope-filled message clearer than in our 2019 VBS curriculum, The Incredible Race. We will reach hundreds of thousands of children (and adults) with the message that we all belong to one race and family, that we’re all equal before God, and that the gospel message is for every tongue, tribe, and nation.
This VBS program will teach kids that all humans are the same basic skin color (shades of brown) because of the pigment melanin. They’ll learn how the Tower of Babel event resulted in different people groups, not different races. And they’ll discover that Darwin’s ideas of lower and higher races (that help fuel racism) are not true. What an impact this can have in dealing with issues of racism and prejudice! The Incredible Race VBS will provide the right worldview foundation for kids, giving them a burden to reach others in the human family with the gospel.
In conjunction with this VBS, we just published a new book I authored, One Blood for Kids: What the Bible Says About Race. In this book I explain there’s only one biological race but seven biblical/spiritual races: Created Race, Fallen Race, Rescued Race, Divided Race, Saved Race, Lost Race, Lamb’s Race. It’s packed full of information to answer so many questions people have about this issue.
Based on this book, we have produced a powerful witnessing tool using the central illustration presented in One Blood for Kids: a swivel tract, similar to a multi-shade color swatch (what you would see in a paint store). 7 Biblical Races is a unique and impactful tract to help you talk to others about “race.” This swivel tract clearly proclaims the gospel and tells the reader how to become one of the Lamb’s Race. We pray this swivel tract will be a powerful resource that will help reach the world with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
Thanks for supporting us as we do battle in this spiritual war that began in a garden six thousand years ago. Thank you for praying for us. And thank you for helping us reach generations of all ages with the most important message in the entire universe—the truth of the saving gospel.