This is so strange that we have to defend Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo is famed not only for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, but also for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark known as Ark Encounter.
Why are we defending Hambo? There are some among our readers who regard him as a shameless charlatan, but we disagree, and after reading what we have to say here, perhaps you’ll see our point. Specifically, Hambo is so wrong this time that he can’t possibly be aware of it and post what he has posted. That’s why we think he’s sincere.
He just posted FFRF Threatens Public Schools Over Visits to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
I’m laying down the gauntlet with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. [Ooooooooooooh!] Once again (as they did in 2016), the FFRF has blanketed public schools within driving distance of the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum with threatening letters to bully schools not to bring students to either attraction. FFRF claims that a public school group that visits our attractions would supposedly violate the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
See what we mean? There is nothing more biblical than Hambo’s creationist tourist attractions, and anyone with even a casual familiarity with the US Constitution would immediately understand that governnment funds can’t be spent to support such activities. And it’s not just the federal Constitution. The Constitution Of The Commonwealth Of Kentucky is quite explicit. Section 5 of the Bill of Rights, on page 7, says:
Section 5. Right of religious freedom. 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; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.
And Section 189 on page 35 says:
Section 189. School money not to be used for church, sectarian, or denominational school. No portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school.
That seems clear. But not to Hambo. He says:
In a letter sent out to over 1,000 school districts in five states, FFRF wrote:
[Hambo quotes the letter:] Public schools and public school staff may not constitutionally organize trips to the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum or any other religious venue. … We are writing again because, unfortunately, Ken Ham, the evangelist who built these two notorious theme parks, continues to encourage public schools to plan field trips to visit the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. … Though Ham asserts that the law is on his side, this is untrue. Unquestionably, any field trip facilitated by a public school to either attraction would be unconstitutional. … In short, it is unacceptable to expose a captive audience of impressionable students to the overtly religious atmosphere of Ham’s Christian theme parks.
That also seems clear. But Hambo doesn’t get it. He tells us:
As leading civil rights attorneys will tell you, if classes tour the Ark or museum in an objective fashion to supplement the teaching of world religions, literature, interpretation of history, etc., the field trip is an educational experience. Now, if students were brought to the Ark or museum and told by their teacher that the religious content should be accepted as truth, then we would acknowledge that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, as currently being interpreted by the courts, would be violated.
We don’t know who those “leading civil rights attorneys” are, but how in the world can a visit to Hambo’s ark be an objective educational experience? Perhaps for a carpentry class, but that’s all we can think of. Oh, wait — he quotes what he says is from one of his attorneys:
If public schools were bringing students to the Ark and museum and declaring, ‘THIS interpretation is the only real truth that you should personally accept,’ then that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.
If classes are coming to the museum or Ark in an objective fashion, however, to show students world-class exhibits and one group’s interpretation of the origin of man and earth history, then the field trip is just fine as an exceptional and voluntary educational and cultural experience.
In a survey of world religions, their beliefs can be summarized with clinical neutrality in a textbook — without the time and expense of a field trip to Hambo’s one-sided fantasy exhibits. Anyway, here comes the Hambo challenge:
I want to offer admission free of charge [Gasp!] to all those public schools who received the FFRF letter — and to any other public school in America — that want to bring their students to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum as an official school trip (as per how the First Amendment attorney described it above). And if the FFRF dares threaten or bully a public school, we have access to expert constitutional law attorneys who will provide their services to the school, pro bono, even if that means going all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Brave words. And now we come to the end:
Actually, I would like to see a case go to the Supreme Court so that these atheist bullies who have been wreaking havoc on civil liberties all across America can be stopped. … Any public school official can contact Answers in Genesis to book your official public school outing to either the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum, or both. I trust there will be some school leaders bold enough to stand up to this latest FFRF bullying attempt.
Okay, there it is — the Hambo Challenge. We think he’s sincere, but what public school principal will be foolhardy enough to contact Hambo and sign the kiddies up for a nice “secular” tour of the ark and the Creation Museum? We shall see.
Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.