Life Size Noah’s Ark opens; GM addresses ‘Freedom From Religion’ protests

The Ark Encounter Ribbon Cutting

By Kami Klein

On July 6th, with thousands of guests and media in attendance, the impressive ‘Ark Encounter’ opened its massive doors and another historic vision of Ken Ham, founder, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis (AIG) came to life.  The first of the AIG projects, the Creation Museum, a state-of-the-art 75,000-square-foot museum that brings the pages of the Bible to life, was opened in 2007 and has seen more than 2.5 million visitors.  

In a press conference, Ham addressed the crowd and spoke to the importance of a family-oriented, historically authentic and environmentally friendly attraction.

“In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it’s time for Christians to do something of this size and this magnitude,’ said Ham.

The Ark Encounter is America’s newest, large theme park, and the one of a kind, life size, 510 foot-long Noah’s Ark is the centerpiece and considered to be the largest free-standing timber-frame building in the world.  This Ark was build to full scale on the dimensions provided in the Bible. (Genesis 6) using the Hebrew long cubit (cubit- an ancient measurement of length based on distance from the elbow to the fingertips)  and in accordance with sound, established nautical, engineering practices of the ancient era.

To give you an idea of the size of this structure, NASA could lay 3 space shuttles nose to tail on the ark’s roof and the height is taller than a modern four story building.

The ark has opened to much praise, but also has it’s critics saying that the attraction will be detrimental to science education.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation, (FRFF) concerned about school field trips to the exhibit, say that ark field trips would expose children to religious proselytizing in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.  

Ham noted at the opening press conference that with the Ark Encounter, “the research indicates a large percentage – maybe 40 percent or more – will be non-Christians. People from all over the world have heard of Noah’s Ark.” Ham added, “I believe you’re going to find all sorts of people from all walks of life with all sorts of religious backgrounds who are going to come here. And even if they don’t share our biblical view, they can’t help but be impressed by the structure, craftsmanship and by the attention to detail of the world-class exhibits inside. And who knows? Maybe they’ll be challenged to even talk about the Bible.”

In his blog, Ken Ham responded to the “bullying” tactics of the FRFF on schools.  He was speaking to a published press release by the FFRF that stated they would be advising public schools in more than 1000 school districts against visiting the theme park and remind them of their constitutional obligations.  

Ham responded, “Actually, FFRF is undermining or encouraging the violation of the First Amendment by bullying school districts with this threat. (Their usual threatening technique is to try to intimidate people to do what FFRF wants—not what the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees!)

On the basis of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, public schools are absolutely free to take students on field trips (with appropriate parental permissions) to facilities like the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, provided they are for historical, recreational, or educational purposes. FFRF has no right (and no legal basis whatsoever) to intimidate public schools as they are trying to do in this letter sent to more than 1,000 schools.”

The Center for Religious Expression also spoke directly with Ham stating:  

“Once again, FFRF is wrong. Public schools are free to take students on field trips to any place they find educationally beneficial, which can include parks, museums, and even churches, that have religious connotations. The Constitution demands the state be neutral—not hostile—toward religion. To deny students the unique opportunity to see and experience a full-scale model of Noah’s Ark—just because its existence is described in the Bible—would be decidedly hostile.”

In response to the FFRF letter that has been sent to school districts, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt sent a message to school districts Monday saying that “neither outside groups nor state education officials should dictate field trip selection. A school’s site-based decision-making council approves trips.”  

The Ark Encounter is an immersive, historically themed experience for the whole family focused on having fun while learning about history. It is not an amusement park. It features a number of daily live performances, as well as live special events. It also includes “edu-tainment” aspects – educational and entertaining experiences – within each attraction. More than 125,000 square feet of world-class exhibits can be explored along the Ark’s three decks.


FFRF criticizes group prayer in Missouri middle school

A lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted a Missouri school district after watching a video that purportedly shows a ministry official leading students in prayer in the lunchroom.

The organization, which describes itself as a watchdog that strives for a separation of church and state, wrote a letter to the Hollister R-V School District’s superintendent, saying a concerned parent contacted them after the video was shared on social media.

The 10-second cell-phone video was uploaded to Facebook on February 5. It appears to show Robert Bruce, the local chapter director of the Christian youth ministry K-Life, standing in the center of a circle of students in the Hollister Middle School lunchroom and leading a prayer. Dozens of students are holding hands in the circle, while a few remain seated at lunch tables.

In his Feb. 10 letter to Hollister’s superintendent, Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Patrick C. Elliott called the practice “an egregious violation of the First Amendment,” which forbids schools from promoting religion, and said it “must be stopped immediately.”

“It is unconstitutional for a public school to allow an evangelical Christian organization to impose prayer on all students,” Elliott said in a statement. “Giving the group access to all students as part of school programming suggests that the school district has preference not only for religion over nonreligion, but also evangelical Christianity over other faiths. This sort of entanglement between religion and public education is inappropriate.”

The letter argues that allowing the ministry into the school allowed its representatives to “proselytize” and students who did not participate in the prayer were made to feel like outsiders.

According to Elliott’s letter, the child of the parent who complained said that students had been directed in similar prayers on other occasions around the time the video was originally posted.

“No religious organization should have direct access to students at school,” Elliott argues in the letter. “This predatory conduct should raise red flags, especially since these adults are conversing with students without parental knowledge.”

The prayer circle video had been viewed more than 10,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

In the video’s description on Facebook, the boy who uploaded it to the social media website wrote “we chose to do this” as a way of “Respecting Our God.”

On Thursday, after local media reported on the letter, a student from Hollister High School tweeted that “HHS supports HMS as well as Robert Bruce” and shared a 17-second video of students gathered in a prayer circle in what appears to be the high school’s cafeteria.

The student tweeted that it was a “110% student led prayer,” and the dozens of kids who appear in the high school video all participated voluntarily.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written many letters to schools and government agencies across the country about the presence of religious tones in those environments.

On Thursday, it announced it had contacted lawyers for the Bentonville School District in Arkansas, claiming that the Feb. 19 inauguration of a new fitness trail at Cooper Elementary School had unconstitutional components, including a nun blessing the trail with holy water.

“Even when outside the typical school environment, the Supreme Court has found prayers taking place at school-sponsored events unconstitutional,” Elliott wrote in the Feb. 23 letter.

Federal Court Allows Jesus Statue to Stay on Montana Mountain

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s attempts to remove a statue of Jesus from a piece of federal land has been denied by a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The statue, called “Big Mountain Jesus” by local residents, was the target of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  The group claimed the existence of the statue was the government endorsing Christianity and thus a violation of the Constitution.

Two of the three judges on the panel backed the ruling of U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen who found the secular and irreverent uses of the statue overshadowed any religious use.

Christensen noted that the monument had been a wedding location, covered in ski apparel and even Mardi Gras beads.

“The Court rightly rejected Freedom From Religion Foundation’s radical idea that a privately owned memorial standing in the middle of a ski resort violates the Constitution,” said Eric Baxter, senior counsel with the Becket Fund.

The group says they will appeal the decision to the full 9th Circuit Court.

Michigan Mayor Retaliates Against Anti-Christian Protesters

After a group of anti-Christianists sued to have a “reason station” placed in a city facility to counter a “prayer station”, the mayor of Warren, Michigan announced a new city campaign.

The city will be handing out free posters that say “In God We Trust” and will be hanging them throughout the facility where the anti-Christian group will be sitting.

The decision by Mayor James Fouts comes after the city lost a court battle with the anti-Christian groups Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the ACLU.

“Obviously, I was concerned about the court order that forced the city of Warren to have a reason station within our city hall atrium,” Fouts said in a statement.

“The prayer station had been functioning for years without any problems or any controversy. They’re now allowed to have an atheist station under the euphemistic guise of a reason station.”

The mayor said all religions were able to place displays, noting a Ramadan display that was set up during that period of the Muslim calendar.

“However, this group is a non-religion, and I don’t know what display they’re going to put up unless they are attempting to disparage our prayer station, which I cannot tolerate,” Fouts said.

“I will not allow either a racial hate group to go up, a religious hate group to go up, or a group that disparages a particular ethnicity to go up on the city hall atrium.”

School Superintendent Stands Up To Freedom From Religion Foundation

The superintendent of a Texas school district is standing up to a militant anti-Christian who attacked a school principal for quoting the Bible during school announcements.

Hemant Mehta, who calls himself “the Friendly Atheist”, took the unfriendly step of contacting the virulently anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation after what he claimed was an anonymous student’s complaint over Proverbs being read during announcement time.

“He who leads upright along an evil path will fall into his own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance,” Principal Dan Noll read from the book of Proverbs in one of the announcements. “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

The FFRF demanded that the Principal stop reading scriptures and for disciplinary action be taken against Noll.

White Oak Superintendent Michael Gilbert would have none of that.

“The residents were offended at the use of Scripture, demanding that it be stopped and calling for disciplinary action against Mr. Noll,” he stated. “I am fully aware of the practice at the high school and will not pursue any action against our high school principal or any other member of our faculty/staff concerning this issue.”

“Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress,” Gilbert continued. “Bible studies and Scriptures are allowed in schools. The requirement is that the material be presented in a neutral manner. It is my position that we met that standard with the morning announcements.”

Michigan City Allows Anti-Christianists To Put Display In “Prayer Station”

Officials of Warren, Michigan have given in to the virulent anti-Christian Freedom from Religion Foundation and are permitting the group to put up a display in city hall near a “prayer station.”

Anti-Christianist Douglas Marshall, a member of the activist group, demanded the Downtown Development Authority permit him to run a “reason station” where he would promote “free thought.”

The Mayor initially denied the request saying the goal of the anti-Christianist was to disrupt the actions of the prayer station.

“To my way of thinking, your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion,” Mayor Jim Fouts wrote. “The City of Warren cannot allow this.”

The FFRF claimed they had nothing to do with it as they rushed into court to file a federal lawsuit with the ACLU and the anti-Christian group Separation of Church and State.

The FFRF and Douglas Marshall have sued the city previously in what the Mayor said were attempts to disrupt religious groups from being able to have city displays.

Memorial To Teacher Threatened By Anti-Christianists

The anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation wants to destroy a monument to a beloved teacher because they cannot stand her Christian faith being referenced in the memorial.

Ravenswood Middle School in West Virginia has a monument to Joann Christy, a 26-year educators who died in a car accident.  The memorial had bench, two stone planters and several crosses to represent her deep Christian beliefs.

“There’s so many kids that came through this school that were affected by her death, that were affected by her teachings, and now we’re just trying to keep her memory alive here,” Tracy Sadecky, a family friend, told a local TV station.

The family of the late teacher agreed to have the crosses removed in an attempt to appease the hate group, but left angels saying that Christy had a collection of angels and the angels represented her.

Anti-Christianists Seek To Stop Bible Distribution In Oklahoma Schools

A major anti-Christian organization has sent letters to school districts across Oklahoma threatening them if they do not stop Bible distributions in their schools.

The anti-Chrsitian Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to 26 school districts after they were told Gideon International had given Bibles to schools for students who wanted to read them.

“It is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the distribution of Bibles as part of the public school day,” the letter, written by Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel, reads. “Courts have uniformly held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools is prohibited.”

The anti-Christian group then compared the Gideons to child predators.

Jamison Faught of the Gideons told New American that the giving of Bibles is voluntary.

“We don’t force Bibles on anybody. We simply ask if anyone would like them,” he said.

None of the schools have yet responded to the anti-Christian group’s demands.

Alabama City Passes Resolution Declaring They Are “Under God”

An Alabama city’s officials are taking a bold stand against the anti-Christianists around the nation that want to wipe Christians out of the public square.

Winfield, Alabama officials voted to pass a resolution that declares they are a city “under God.”

“I feel like we need to stand up for what is right,” he told “Our forefathers said ‘One nation under God’ and we went so far away from that. There are not enough godly people involved in day-to-day decisions.”

“Whereas we acknowledge God is the owner of the City of Winfield and that it is a City under God. We acknowledge that at all times, He is in control,” the resolution reads. “Whereas, we acknowledge that through His leadership, the mayor and city council will seek his wisdom and knowledge to be good stewards of the city.”

“Whereas, we acknowledge that though prayer, with His guidance and presence, that we will be able to trust that no problem will be too large or too small to overcome. Whereas, we acknowledge that the City of Winfield is where it is today because of God’s grace and mercy. Whereas, we acknowledge that at all times and in all circumstances, His will shall be done. Whereas, we acknowledge that to God be the glory.”

Anti-Christianists across the nation immediately expressed outrage that someone would stand up to them.

“Who are they even trying to impress? I promise you God has better things to do than take over your city,” wrote blogger Hemant Mehta, known as “the friendly atheist,” who advised that he turned the matter into the anti-Christian hate group Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Atheists Seek To Convince Congress To Dump Bible

An anti-Christian organization is seeking to convince Congress to dump the Bible as part of their oath ceremony.

“On January 6, Congress will take the ceremonial oath of office, during which each member will solemnly swear, or affirm, that he or she will ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ While members are not required to swear or affirm on a specific text, or any at all, many choose to swear on the Bible,” the Secular Coalition of America said.

“This year, the Secular Coalition will seek to remind Congress that it was elected to support and defend the Constitution, not the Bible or any other religious text. We will be circulating letters on the Hill and lobbying in person to get as many members of Congress as we can to take the oath on the Constitution.”

It’s not the first time that an anti-Christian organization has tried to manipulate the oath of office for a Federal official; the anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation did the same prior to President Obama’s 2012 inauguration.

A recent study showed that 57 percent of Congress identifies themselves as Christian and 31 percent as Catholic.