… and Ark Park responds predictably.
More specifically, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a “warning” to more than 1000 school districts in Kentucky and neighboring states, advising them against field trips to the Ark Park. The Ark Park, says FFRF, is a Christian ministry (as opposed to an educational museum), and they quote Ken Ham as having penned a letter, “Our Real Motive for Building Ark Encounter,” in which he writes:
Our motive is to do the King’s business until He comes. And that means preaching the gospel and defending the faith so that we can reach as many souls as we can.
Taking public school students to a site whose self-professed goal is to convert children to a particular religion and undermine what is taught in public school science and history classrooms would be inappropriate.
And they add that courts have summarily rejected arguments that making the field trip “voluntary” makes it constitutional.
Ark Park today responded predictably, if a bit hysterically:
The atheists are on the rampage again, and this time their target is our just-opened Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky.
Their lawyers crafted a response, which is largely pabulum, but the gist of which is
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 [sic] and earth history, then the field trip is just fine as an exceptional and voluntary educational and cultural experience.
I suppose that would be true if that group’s “interpretation of the origin of man and earth history” were not a purely religious interpretation. The author of the article, Mark Looy, goes on to say that the atheists “can’t handle the truth” and accuses them of being “secularists,” which I suppose is true, and of being specifically anti–[fundamentalist] Christian, which I rather doubt. Mr. Looy repeats the pretense that the Ark Park is an educational museum:
Such antireligious zealotry causes secularists to grossly twist the First Amendment and then scare educators with a misinterpretation of the First Amendment. To repeat: as long as a school trip fits an educational, recreational, or historical purpose, for example, it would be constitutionally appropriate.
The secularist religion of humanism and naturalism is being taught in the public education system without challenge in most schools. This false teaching is deceiving many young people. Students are being taught that there is no God and that they are merely the products of random processes. [Italics added]
The FFRF letter provides chapter and verse, if you will pardon the expression, to explain why “it is unacceptable to expose a captive audience of impressionable students to the overtly religious atmosphere of Ham’s Christian theme parks” and concludes that
Ham is free to erect monuments to his bible, but public schools are not permitted to expose the children in their charge to religious myths and proselytizing.