The Lexington Senior Center in Kentucky, which receives money from taxpayers at the federal, state, and county levels, is planning a trip next week to Ark Encounter so everyone can learn more about Christian mythology.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling that an impermissible endorsement of Christianity that has to stop.
“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that the government cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religion,” FFRF’s Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Chris Line reminds Lexington Senior Center Program Manager Sean Wright. “Advertising and organizing such an event sends the message that residents are expected to support such religious events.”
Such an endeavor also alienates those Lexington residents who are not Christian and who are nonreligious. Approximately one-fourth of the American population is nonreligious, and roughly 30 percent count themselves as non-Christian.
There are legal hindrances to such a trip, too. The Lexington Senior Center reportedly receives at least some of its budget from federal, state and county funds. Federal regulations prohibit senior centers receiving federal funding to engage in religious activities at government-sponsored functions. Additionally, the regulations clearly proscribe any discrimination on the basis of religious belief.
Visiting a religious ministry is an inherently religious activity. Therefore, advertising, promoting, endorsing or encouraging attendance for this kind of religious event places the agency in direct violation of the federal mandate.
“The brand of religious ‘information’ at the Ark Park is completely bogus and driven by missionary zeal,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “A government-funded entity cannot be subsidizing and encouraging such absurdity.”
Besides being illegal, it’s a ripoff. $65 per person for the day, with about half for the ticket? Take ten bucks, buy a piece of plywood, and just hit yourself over the head with it repeatedly. It’ll give your brain the same satisfaction as a trip to the Ark.