FFRFVirgianCancelArkTrip

Christiansburg, VA cancels trip to Ark Encounter after contact from FFRF.
Christiansburg, VA Parks and Recreation Department has canceled its visit to the Ark Encounter. It was convinced to do so by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The Ark Encounter is a Christian attraction modeled after the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark under the control of Ken Ham, a known creationist. Ham has no qualms about the proselytizing function of his projects. In a 2016 letter, he wrote that he and his organization are eager for an “historic moment in Christendom”, the opening of the “life-sized” Noah's Ark located in the northern part of Kentucky. He further added the Ark and Creation Museum will transmit the words of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The FFRF is a non-profit with offices located all over the United States. It is dedicated to maintain the separation of church and state. The organization counts 27,000 members, including 200 individuals from Kentucky.

The FFRF swung into action when it was informed by a concerned citizen in Christiansburg, VA, that the Parks and Recreation Department was scheduled to do a visit during the earlier part of April. Visitors were supposed to set foot in the Ark Encounter. There were plans to visit Kentucky's Creation Museum as well. The plans for this excursion were given in entirety on the city website. The FFRF requested the city authorities to not organize any visit to such blatantly religious sites.

According to the FFRF, it can be problematic for any government entity to coordinate the outings to Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Andrew Siedel, the staff attorney of the FFRF wrote to the Director, Christiansburg Parks and Recreation Department's Brad Epperley that advertising and also organizing any trip to any Christian ministry constitutes religious endorsement by the government. It also alienates residents of the city who do not identify themselves as Christian and are also non-religious. Advertising and organizing these kind of events sends the message that residents must endorse such events.

The Park and Recreation Department replied February 7, stating the trip has been canceled. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the co-President of the FFRF said, "The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are Christian-themed hoaxes that no one should fall for, let alone a governmental body.”

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