One of the most frustrating things in apologetics is watching people either misrepresent your position, or the law, in an attempt to silence the message of the Gospel. In this instance, the anti-Christian crusaders at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) have blasted a broadside at over one thousand schools in five states surrounding the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. The broadside threatens any school that takes a trip to either the Museum or the Ark as the FFRF deem such a trip, “Unconstitutional”. The memorandum did not specify what action FFRF would take if they discovered schools took a trip to either attraction but based on their history, litigation seems the most likely outcome.
FFRF is a fine example of what everyone should not be. They are the schoolyard bully for grown-ups. It doesn’t matter if they are right, wrong, or in the grey somewhere, they come out of the woodwork any time someone mentions Christianity in the public sphere and demand that the speaker be silent, or face an expensive, draining lawsuit. This is not the first time FFRF has threatened public schools. This same notice was sent in 2016, when the Ark Encounter opened.
The language from the constitution that these bullies always cite is from the first amendment to the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion…” What they conveniently leave off the end of that phrase is the clause that completes it. The full prase reads “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Note that the amendment does not say anything about government officials being forced to be functional atheists while at work. Nor is there any mention of public employees having to be religiously neutral while at work. All the phrase says is that Congress will not force on religion on the nation. In case the atheists have forgotten it, public school employees are not members of Congress.
The FFRF in their bullying broadside cited several cases they claim set precedent for schools not being permitted to go to either of Answers in Genesis’ attractions. While I do not claim to be a lawyer, case law is a tricky thing. Different courts rule differently on the same issue, often depending on which political party appointed the judge. Sometimes the same court reveres itself over time, as new judges are appointed. So citing case law is not exactly the same as citing the Constitution.
Interestingly, in the article the FFRF used to plaster their anti-religious propaganda all over the internet, they used an image that obviously was an image made by Answers in Genesis. Now once again, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m fairly certain that you can’t just use people’s photos unless they are uploaded to a free sharing website like Wikipedia, flickr or something similar, at least without crediting them. I’m fairly certain that Answers in Genesis would not just gift FFRF with an Ark Encounter image. The FFRF does not credit Answers in Genesis when using the photo that I presume belongs to Answers in Genesis. This leads me to believe that FFRF may actually be the ones in violation of the law, which would be bitingly ironic. Not that I expect they will face any litigation for it, laws like that generally only work one way in this country.
Answers in Genesis responded just as I was writing this article, with Ken Ham personally posting an article on the website and generously offered free legal counsel to any school willing to brave the threat of litigation from the FFRF to bring their students to their attractions. Ham’s article also offered free admission to any public school in America willing to make the trip, and basically challenged FFRF to bring it on if such trips occurred. It remains to be seen as of this writing if FFRF will respond in kind, or if litigation will be filed against any school brave enough to take Ham up on his offer but I would encourage them to do so.
The bitingly ironic part of this is FFRF is not a large group. In fact, Answers in Genesis undoubtedly has more employees. Yet FFRF wields the bully power of frivolous lawsuits and most schools are simply too cowardly to stand up to the bully. It’s time someone did.