Interesting choice of words:
Venues in Kentucky that share Christian beliefs are under attack
Seriously? They are under “attack”? Oh my.
A challenge all of the way to the Supreme Court is unlikely. Regardless, it is unfortunate that Ham’s rhetoric and posturing is actually more likely to discourage and even potentially undermine the valid educational efforts of public schools to educate students in religious studies classes and even general education about diversity and understanding of differences.
I’m OK with educational field trips (relevant to specific secondary school academic courses) to Jewish synagogues in order to understand Judaism and the history of anti-Semiticism. Similarly, I also wouldn’t object to high school art classes having the freedom to visit a Roman Catholic cathedral to view the architecture and sculptures. However, in an era when multimedia resources and even virtual reality technology offers alternatives, I don’t necessarily think that such field trips are the most cost-efficient and effective means of education—but that is another issue. If Ham actually pursued a arduous challenge in federal courts, I think it would get a lot of media coverage and the resulting pushback would make public schools even more likely to avoid such controversy and litigation risk.
I assume that the FFRF is quite pleased with Ken Ham’s response to their information letters to the schools. Ham is providing free publicity for their campaign. I do want public schools to exercise their Constitutional freedom to educate students about religion and religious culture—but the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum are not places where religious worship can be easily observed nor are they good venues for learning about the history of Christianity in general. They are mainly tourist attractions for people who embrace Ham’s personal brand of Genesis interpretation. Such venues may be topical to upper-level undergraduate religious studies courses but it’s much harder to justify them for K-through-12 students of the public schools.
I believe Christians should choose their battles more carefully.
If today’s high school students are anything like those of past generations, I think an Ark Encounter field trip will not necessarily work out as well as Ken Ham might hope. Yes, some Bible Belt students will be 100% affirming of what they see there—at least for now----but some will be naturally skeptical of the outrageous claims and will ask questions of their teachers, especially their science teachers. I can imagine sometime in the future these students as grown adults saying, “My questioning and eventual rejection of creation science began when my school took us on a field trip to the Ark Encounter.”
‘In the future’? Ken Ham brings that out of people today.
My experiences with such Bible Belt public school students suggest that many are very much immersed at home, at church, and even at school in Christian communities and peer groups with certain sets of “acceptable” beliefs. Peer pressure holds strong sway. (That is why even non-Christian students are often quite willing to go along with prayer at athletic events—and even the wearing of crosses and WWJD jewelry. Conformity matters to most teenagers.) The students who would react strongly against the Ark Encounter exhibits during a school field trip most likely had objections prior to that trip. Many of the other students will find themselves on a “slow simmer” of processing what they see there and reflecting upon the arguments long term. For many, the changes will come at the stage of life a few years later when they leave home and are no longer under such strong influence of their parents and Bible Belt communities.
I have to believe Ken Ham is not nearly upset about any attacks on religion as he is a potential loss of cash revenue from his amusement parks which he uses to line his own pockets.
I’m no lawyer but even I saw the obvious problem with Nathan W. Kellum’s citing and application of Doe ex rel. Doe v. Elmbrook Sch. Dist. , 687 F.3d 840 (7th Cir. 2012.) A visit to the Ark Encounter isn’t just about learning about the major tenets of a religion. It includes exhibits specifically designed to encourage a religious conversion experience. That sounds like a far more serious instance of religious entanglement than mere religious decor.
Nathan Kellum doesn’t understand how this works. A public school would need to plan and announce a trip to Ark Encounter. A parent would then object and sue in Federal Court (with the help of FFRF). The school district will lose and would have to pay for all the legal fees. There is no way that any school district will attempt this. No district has even tried.
As it happens, the Elmbrook church is about 2 miles from my house. I’d heard about the lawsuit years ago, but lost track of the case. I had no idea it had gone to SCOTUS.
It is a very nice facility, but to my mind in feels almost entirely - but not completely - unlike a church. It’s more like a movie theater.
In that case a group of parents’ sued that their children were being forced to attend their secular graduation ceremony in a facility owned by a Christian Church. As Dan says the faculty was more like a theater than a church. This case is nothing like what would happen if a public school should plan a trip to ark encounter or the creation museum.
IIRC, they did hold the graduation there, with imagry and symbols covered up.
Is that the Elmbrook Church of Brookfield, WI which Stuart Briscoe led for many years? Your description of the church in the SCOTUS case sure sounds like that facility. And I suppose even if it is not, it provides sufficient excuse for me to tell this story:
Stuart Briscoe and his wife Jill became prolific authors and speakers around the world soon after taking Elmbrook Church as their first pastoral calling in 1969(?). (He was a banker in the UK before that, if I recall correctly.) I first got to know them in the mid-1980’s when we were both speakers at an event where we were seated together on the rostrum for the evening banquet. I think I still have somewhere in my possession the humorous gift Stuart gave me as part of his comical introduction—since he was doing the “general welcome” type of speech, and I was doing the keynote address which immediately followed. That gift was a little disk of wood which looked like an over-sized coin. On both sides of it he had written with permanent black marker: “2-it”. As he introduced me at the podium, he shared with the audience:
I want to give Professor Miller a little gift which will prevent him from ever succumbing to procrastination tendencies. [He handed me the wooden “coin”.] Now that you have this round 2-it, you will never ever again be able to say, “Yes, I will eventually do that—when I get a round 2-it.”
[@Michael_Callen, you always say that I have an endless supply of stories—so that’s just one more.]
The same. We visited a few times (when we first moved here) when Briscoe was still there. He’s really a very good speaker. The Mega-church experience was not what we wanted though, and we found a smaller church that was more to our liking. We ended up not going there much either, but that had nothing to do with that church.
You don’t NEED excuses.
Very cool… I love your stories… and look at the commonality… You know them, Dan knew them, and they once visited the church we used to attend and delivered the message together. I think it was about ten or twelve years ago, but I remember it well. Small world, eh?