A Creationist Sues the Grand Canyon for Religious Discrimination

Source: The Atlantic

By SARAH ZHANG

“How did the Grand Canyon form?” is a question so commonly pondered that YouTube is rife with explanations. Go down into the long tail of Grand Canyon videos, and you’ll eventually find at a two-part, 35-minute lecture by Andrew Snelling. The first sign this isn’t a typical geology lecture comes comes about a minute in, when Snelling proclaims, “The Grand Canyon does provide a testament to the biblical account of Earth’s history.”

Snelling is a prominent young-Earth creationist. For years, he has given lectures, guided biblical-themed Grand Canyon rafting tours, and worked for the nonprofit Answers in Genesis. (The CEO of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, is also behind the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter theme park.) Young-Earth creationism, in contrast to other forms of creationism, specifically holds that the Earth is only thousands of years old. Snelling believes that the Grand Canyon formed after Noah’s flood—and he now claims the U.S. government is blocking his research in the canyon because of his religious views.

Last week, Snelling sued park administrators and the Department of Interior, which administers the national parks program, because they would not grant him a permit to collect 50 to 60 fist-sized rocks. All research in the national park is restricted, especially if it requires removing material. But the Grand Canyon does host 80 research projects a year, ranging from archaeology digs to trout tracking.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Snelling, alleged discrimination by the park. “National Park Service: Research in Grand Canyon okay for geologists … but not Christian ones,” read the headline on their press release. (Interior department and NPS spokespeople declined to comment because of the pending litigation.)

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