The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strenuously objecting to public schools in three states that have either made trips or are planning visits to the so-called Creation Museum.
Brookville High School in Dayton, Ohio, is coordinating an outing to evangelist Ken Ham's literalist tribute to the scriptures this Saturday, April 30. Big Beaver Falls Area School District in Beaver Falls, Pa., has approved a high school field trip to the site. And Jackson City School, a school in Jackson, Ky., has already undertaken a visit to the venue.
The "museum" is a Christian homage to creationism with an explicit mission "to point today's culture back to the authority of the Gospel and proclaim the gospel message." At the location, there's 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.
"Public schools may not advance or promote religion," FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler writes to Nicholas Subashi, legal counsel for the Brookville Local Schools. "Bringing students on a field trip to a religious venue is a blatant promotion of religion."
Such trips to sectarian institutions also exclude the non-Christian and the nonreligious, FFRF maintains. The fact that participation or attendance on these trips is voluntary is not a valid defense, since courts have summarily rejected arguments that voluntariness excuses constitutional violations.
The religious content of the Creation Museum would not be permitted if taught directly at these schools, since the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the teaching of "scientific creationism" in public schools. And federal courts have consistently rejected creationism and its ilk in public schools. The organization of an educational trip to a venue propagating a creationist viewpoint therefore doesn't make sense.
FFRF is asking the school districts to cancel their upcoming trips to the Creation Museum and to refrain from scheduling and planning any such trips in the future.
"This is an outrageous misuse of our public schools, which exist to educate, not to miseducate and indoctrinate," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a state/church watchdog organization with 23,700 members nationwide, including more than 700 in Pennsylvania, more than 600 in Ohio and almost 200 in Kentucky.