MADISON, Wisc. — A professing atheist activist organization is expressing its objection to three public schools that either have already or plan to visit Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent letters to officials with Brookville High School in Dayton, Ohio, Jackson Independent School District in Kentucky, and the Big Beaver Falls School District in Pennsylvania to urge the cancellation of the trips to Petersburg.
“It is unconstitutional for a public school to take students on a field trip to a religious venue such as the Creation Museum, a Christian museum which promotes the religious doctrine of creationism and lists is mission as ‘to point today’s culture back to the authority of Scripture and proclaim the gospel message,'” the letters read.
A press release from the organization also notes that Ham’s 75,0000 square foot museum features “a diorama of a human and a dinosaur together, implying that they existed simultaneously. Each display contrasts science with a literalist interpretation of the Bible.”
FRRF says that the school trips to the Creation Museum “excludes non-Christian and non-religious students” and are not permissible even though attendance is voluntary and comes at no cost to the districts.
Jackson City School and Brookville High School have already visited the venue, and Big Beaver Falls High School plans to attend later this month. FFRF advised district officials that they should rather take the children to secular venues rather than those who provide evidence for biblical creation.
“If the … district is interested in engaging its students by going on an educational field trip, there are many secular museums and other educational opportunities available,” the letters state.
The correspondence to the Big Beaver Falls School District adds, “The district must immediately cancel the planned May 20 field trip and refrain from taking young students on inappropriate, unconstitutional religious trips in the future.”
Ken Ham told Christian News Network in a statement that he doesn’t believe it is illegal for public schools to visit the Creation Museum as long as it is done objectively.
“If public schools were bringing students here and their teachers were saying, ‘THIS interpretation is the only truth that you should personally accept,’ then that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution,” he said. “However, if students come here in an objective fashion and teachers show them our first-class exhibits and present our group’s interpretation of the origin of man, then the field trip is fine as an exceptional and voluntary educational/cultural experience.”
“Public school officials should neither personally endorse nor diminish the museum’s view, but rather present our beliefs objectively,” Ham stated.
He said that FFRF likely opposes field trips to the Creation Museum because the atheist organization doesn’t like other views besides evolutionary theory being presented to children.
“Groups like the FFRF attempt to bully such schools because they don’t want anyone to have an opportunity to know about another interpretation of origins than evolution,” Ham remarked.
As previously reported, the first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in public and private schools alike until approximately the early 1900’s. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.
“Save me, O God, from evil all this day long, and let me love and serve Thee forever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son,” it read.
Many of the Founders’ children learned to read from the primer.
Harvard University, the first university founded in America, possessed the motto “Truth for Christ and the Church.” It was named after minister John Havard.
“Let every scholar be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life. Therefore, to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning,” the institution declared.