Faith

Virginia city cancels visit to Ark Encounter after atheist protest

The Ark Encounter in July 2016.

The Ark Encounter in July 2016.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A Virginia city's Parks and Recreation Department has canceled a planned trip to The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum for families after an atheist group claimed it would violate the Constitution due to the exhibit's "Christian and proselytizing nature."

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The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that it was informed by a "concerned local resident" about the planned visit in early April to the museum in Kentucky and therefore it "urged" the city to "refrain from organizing an outing to such overtly religious sites."

"Advertising and organizing a trip to a Christian ministry constitutes government endorsement of religion and alienates those Christiansburg residents who are not Christian and are nonreligious," FFRF Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote to Brad Epperley, director of the Christiansburg Parks and Recreation Department. "It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that the government can in no way advance, promote or otherwise endorse religion. Advertising and organizing such an event sends a message that residents are expected to endorse such events."

FFRF boasted that the city's legal counsel responded within a couple of days, saying, "Please be advised that the trip has been cancelled and will be removed from the town of Christiansburg's website."

Creation Museum President Ken Ham refuted the atheists' argument that the trip would violate the Constitution.

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