For weeks now, Creationist Ken Ham and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have been doing battle over whether public school students can attend Ark Encounter for “educational” field trips.
It’s not actually a battle. FFRF said those field trips are illegal. And Ham continues to yell at the clouds that they’re not. But his latest missive shows this issue is really getting under his skin.
We have previously stated that public school students could benefit from a visit to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter for educational purposes. Of course, school officials should not endorse as truth what the students will see in our teaching displays and videos — and, to our knowledge, they don’t. This is similar to an instance when a class might be attending a play or watching a film; the school is not endorsing the content of the production or film in holding such field trips.
… Attorneys who are experts in First Amendment matters assure us that 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 or mosques.
This is where Ham’s logic breaks down. Public schools are free to visit houses of worship, for example, as part of an education experience. So if you’re in a comparative religions class, then it makes sense to visit a church, mosque, synagogue, etc.
But there’s no educational benefit to visiting the Ark. It doesn’t teach you about Christianity (since accepting Creationism has nothing to do with the faith’s view of salvation). It doesn’t teach you about geology. It sure as hell doesn’t teach you about science.
I suppose marketing students could do a case study in how to publicize a failed project, but they don’t need to visit the Ark to do that…
Simply put, there’s no valid reason to visit the Ark as part of a public school field trip.
Even if science teachers were to say, “This is all bullshit,” it wouldn’t make a difference. Students go to school to learn legitimate science, not deconstruct every single way people get it wrong. (If that were part of the curriculum, no one would ever get around to the good stuff.)
So it doesn’t matter that Ham is encouraging field trips by charging $1 per student with accompanying teachers free. Any school that accepted the offer would stand to lose far more after a lawsuit is filed against it for violating the Establishment Clause.