FFRF Opposes City-sponsored Trip to Ark Encounter and Creation Museum

Interior of Noah’s ark at the Ark Encounter.

Both attractions were conceptualized and constructed with a fully publicized religious mission.

The Freedom from Religious Foundation (FFRF) has fiercely opposed a sponsored Charleston Parks and Recreation Department trip to Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. The five-day-long $575 trip was scheduled for September 30 – October 4, 2019. After a letter sent by FFRF on Monday, the city announced the trip was cancelled on Tuesday.

Both attractions were conceptualized and constructed with a fully publicized religious mission. The Ark Encounter, newly built in Kentucky, is actually a Christian ministry administered by Ken Ham, the infamous creationist. Ham is also behind the Creation Museum. It is fair to say Ham was open from the first day of the proselytizing intent of both attractions from the time of their inception. He even wrote the same in a June 2016 letter named Our Real Motive for Building Ark Encounter. The communique states a clear evangelistic aim where he insists America will soon approach a historic development in Christendom. The inauguration of the life-size Noah’s Ark, along with the Creation Museum, will point individuals to Christ’s gospels and to the word of God.

When it comes to the secular U.S. government, the City of Charleston has acted in an unconstitutional manner to endorse any religious mission facilitated by such attractions. The government cannot organize, fund, or sponsor any trip to either the Creation Museum or to Ark Encounter. Ryan Jayne, the FFRF staff attorney, sent a letter to Rachael Cunningham, the City Attorney, stating the government is actively doing an unconstitutional action by advertising and organizing any trip to religious attractions like a Christian museum and a Christian theme park. Funding such activities also go against the United States government ethos. The letter continued saying although it is a laudatory aim to encourage citizens to attend a recreational event, pushing a religious attraction alienates those who are not Christians and belong to any other faith or to no faith. “Surely there are appropriate secular activities, in addition to the planned trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, that would not attempt to convert attendees to a particular religion.”

In short, the FFRF has asked the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department to stop organizing all religious events.

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