President, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis says this is the most authentic replica of Noah’s Ark.
The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar

A researcher associated with the Creation Museum in Kentucky is suing the federal government after he says he was denied a Grand Canyon research permit on the basis of his religion.

Andrew Snelling claims that the National Park Service, tasked with evaluating the scientific merit of research proposals in parks, along with the Department of Interior and several employees for the agencies violated his constitutional rights when they denied his request to collect rock samples from the Grand Canyon.

According to the suit, Snelling’s research is primarily focused “investigating geological phenomena from the perspective of one who believes in the truth of the Old and the New Testaments,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona.

In a video on the Answers in Genesis website, he spells out how he believes the Grand Canyon was formed in the aftermath of Noah’s flood.

Feds ask for peer reviews


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Snelling has worked for Answers in Genesis since 2007. He’s an Australian citizen living in the U.S. on a visa with a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney.

After conducting three other research projects in the Grand Canyon and guiding 30 river tours of the canyon, he filed a research proposal in November 2013 seeking to collect 60 half-pound rock samples, the suit states. The 24-page proposal only once mentioned his role at Answers in Genesis and contained no other references to religious motivation or creationism.

Snelling claims park officials asked Snelling for two peer reviews evaluating his research proposal, something that hadn’t been asked for in his previous projects. He provided three, which court documents show were written by other academics who have participated in creationist research.

Emails filed along with the lawsuit allegedly show park officials solicited three more academics for peer reviews of Snelling’s proposal.

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NAU prof: ‘such an outlandish proposal”

Karl Karlstrom, Ph.D. with the University of New Mexico said Snelling proposal, in part, was not “well written, up-to-date or well referenced” and “I suspect his research application… is motivated by his faith that the Cambrian strata were deposited during Noah’s flood, which is the creationist (and certainly not the scientific) explanation for Grand Canyon strata.”

Peter Huntoon, a former professor at the University of Wyoming, said the park should adhere to “your narrowly defined institution mandate … that ours is a secular society as per our constitution” and argued creationists have already decided the answers to their proposed questions.

“Your internal screening processes should include an examination of the credentials of the submitters so that those who represent inappropriate interests should be screened out,” Hutton wrote and suggested a history of creationist research pre-dating Answers in Genesis.

The third peer-review from Ron Blakley of Northern Arizona University simply said, “it is difficult to review such an outlandish proposal.”

Feds explain 1st permit rejection

However, in their denial of Snelling’s permit on March 4, 2014, park officials did not mention creationism, but said, “it has been determined that equivalent examples of soft-sediment folds can be found outside of Grand Canyon National Park.”

Snelling claims he was not directed to where these alternate sites might be and states the samples he needs are unique to the Grand Canyon.

On Feb. 8, 2016, Snelling submitted an amended proposal with more peer reviews and asking to collect fewer samples.

Snelling said he was then stonewalled by park officials. He said his letters sent through legal counsel went unanswered. U.S. Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona also reached out to park on Snelling’s behalf, and according to the suit, was also ignored.

On April 25, 2016, Snelling was granted a permit, the suit states. However, he was told it was only to be a scouting trip to obtain GPS data and photos of the sampling site. He would not be permitted to take any samples.

Lawsuit: ‘Onerous burdens’ by feds

Snelling’s suit claims no other researcher has been told to do a reconnaissance trip to locate sampling sites, and other researchers have completed projects requiring more samples.

Snelling did not respond to the permit offer, which the suits states placed “onerous burdens” upon him, and in July 2016 the permit was revoked due to that lack of response.

The suit cites President Donald Trump’s executive order signed May 4 which states “all executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent of permitted law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.”

‘Civil rights being violated,’ group says


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In a press release, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis said this will be a test case of Trump’s order.

“Ongoing infringements of religious liberty by the government, secular activists, and others have been a sad sign of the times. We are seeing that now with Dr. Snelling’s civil rights being violated,” Ham wrote.

In an email exchange with Karlstrom, who reviewed Snelling’s proposal, he told The Enquirer he was saddened to hear there was a lawsuit filed.

“In my opinion, mixing science and religion is not a good idea and the park should support and present the best scientific (testable) knowledge to manage its resources for the benefit of the American people (of all faiths),” he wrote.

He went on to explain that he thinks the projects of creationists have fundamental flaws.

“They are not valid scientific projects because they ignore all the available scientific information about the geologic timescale and geochronology,” he wrote. “There are many creation myths from many different faiths, and people are entitled to believe any (or all) of them as they wish. Science is based on data and is constantly refining and testing ideas that best explain all the data.”

In the suit, Snelling is asking the policies and procedures applied to his application be declared unconstitutional and wants an injunction granting him a permit for his project and compensation for lost time.


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