Don’t promote Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, FFRF asks state of Kentucky

Landscape shot of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Kentucky

You shouldn’t splurge hundreds of thousands of dollars popularizing dubious religious attractions, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is admonishing the Kentucky government.

The Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau’s new Kentucky Faith Trail program has received a $305,000 grant from the state. The Faith Trail is a self-guided tour through 11 sites of “faith, culture, and history,” as a Bureau press release states. Even though the trail “is designed to be inclusive, welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds to embark on a shared journey of discovery and reflection,” all 11 sites are Christian. To belabor the obvious, this makes the trail the opposite of “inclusive” and welcoming to people of “all faiths and backgrounds.”

Two of the sites, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, are well known for spreading misinformation and promoting anti-science worldviews, FFRF points out. The Ark Encounter purports to be an accurate replica of the mythical ark from the biblical story of Noah and claims that the Christian story of a worldwide flood actually happened. Similarly, the Creation Museum promotes scientifically disproven myths of how the universe came to be and promotes inaccurate information, such as teaching guests that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed on Earth. Both the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are owned by Answers in Genesis, an extreme evangelical Christian organization that spreads misinformation and scientifically inaccurate teachings about our world.

The Bureau must cease using taxpayer money to promote a Faith Trail that includes the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, FFRF stresses.

“As a government entity, the Bureau must adhere to the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which dictates that the government cannot in any way show favoritism toward or promote religion,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to Julie Kirkpatrick, president & CEO of the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment requires government neutrality between religions, and between religion and nonreligion. By promoting exclusively Christian sites, including two sites that spread blatant misinformation, the Bureau is unconstitutionally favoring Christianity over all other faiths.”

The Faith Trail’s complete exclusion of non-Christian and religion-free secular sites and promotion of exclusively Christian landmarks and organizations sends the unmistakable message to all nonreligious citizens and members of minority religions that, to quote the U.S. Supreme Court, “ they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members.” This message needlessly alienates Kentucky citizens and visitors part of the 37 percent of Americans who are non-Christian.

As a taxpayer-funded organization, the Bureau must honor the secular Constitution by ceasing to promote the exclusively Christian Faith Trail, and not aid sectarian-based organizations that spread misinformation and anti-science viewpoints. And the Kentucky Constitution explicitly notes: “No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity.” The Bureau is misusing tax money in support of a particular religious denomination and modes of worship. This must stop.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members in Kentucky and an FFRF Kentucky chapter. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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