Illinois Town Cancels Trip to Creation Museum and Ark Encounter After Atheist Group Files Complaint

The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky bathed in sunset colors. | (PHOTO: ANSWERS IN GENESIS)

An Illinois town has canceled a trip to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Kentucky after one of the nation’s leading atheist legal groups filed a complaint.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that advocates for a strict separation of church and state, is hailing victory after the city of Charleston, Illinois, nixed plans for a community trip to see the creationist exhibits.

The trip was planned by the town’s parks and recreation department and was scheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, 2019.

According to a flyer, the trip would have cost each resident who wanted to go $575. The price included transportation, lodging, admission to the “new” and “stunning” Ark Encounter and admission to the “famous” Creation Museum.

Both exhibits are brainchildren of prominent Australian-born Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis.

Additionally, the trip included visits to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and a riverboat sightseeing cruise.

In a letter sent to Charleston city attorney Rachel Cunningham on Monday, FFRF Ryan Jayne argued that the trip violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Jane contended that it’s a “fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that the government may not promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion.”

“Ham has been clear about the proselytizing nature of both attractions since their inception,” Jane’s letter reads. “It is unconstitutional for the city of Charleston to endorse Ham’s religious mission by organizing, sponsoring or funding a trip to the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum. We request assurances that the fall 2019 event will be either canceled or altered to exclude these religious attractions.”

FFRF reported in a news release that Cunningham responded to Jane’s letter on Tuesday, assuring him that the planned event had been canceled and the flyer promoting the trip had been removed from the city’s website and online registration portal.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith