Dinosaurs and Danny Akin

You see this awesome dinosaur display? That’s from the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum in Glendive, Montana. This happens to be the next town up the highway from me with a stoplight – only about 50 miles away. Glendive is a nice community and, like my own, is nestled on the banks of the Yellowstone River. It’s also home to what most folks call “the dinosaur museum.”

More dinosaur remains have been found in Montana than any other state and include every genus and species you can imagine, from tyrannosaurs to raptors to hydrosaurs to sauropods. In fact, there’s a whole string of thirteen dinosaur museums in Montana known as the Dinosaur Trail (you might think about checking these museums out on your way to the 2015 Reformation Montana Conference). The little town of Glendive happens to be home to one of these, and the entire community is blessed to have it. What other town of a couple thousand people has a completed dinosaur museum with exhibits like the one see above? It’s impressive.

My family has visited this museum with our homeschool co-op and we’ve had the curator and director speak to our church one Sunday evening on creation science. And yes, you heard that right – science. Frankly, the man was brilliant – and he was brilliant on a purely scientific level. I don’t remember what he taught us about the Bible, if anything, but I remember what he taught about carbon dating and fossil records.

The Glendive School district, from which my own church has members, had planned a trip for its elementary students to tour the museum and see all that is to behold there. Other nearby educational attractions include a state park with lots of bare rocks, a muddy river with lots of water, and…well, that’s pretty much it. But they can’t go to the museum now. They can’t go because the Americans United for Party-Pooping the Separation of Church and State have sent a letter to the school district, warning them that to take the students to the museum violates the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

According to news reports, the museum offers a “secular” tour to school groups, which differs from ordinary tours that overtly advocate for a specifically or uniquely Christian understanding of creation. In these cases, the museum presents just the science, without the Bible or religious undertones or overtones. Then, individuals are expected to accept or reject the science presented (you know, the whole “free-thinking” thing we hear so much about from secularists). Likewise, parents had to sign permission slips and pay for their child’s admission fees so that it would not be taxpayer funded.

But according to the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, this is in clear violation of the 1st Amendment. Americans United blogger called the museum a “Creationist Indoctrination Center,” saying…

The facility in question is called the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, but I have too much respect for real museums to use that term for it. In this post, I will refer to it as the “Creationism Indoctrination Center.”

Of course, the blogger, Rob Boston, hasn’t been to the Glendive dinosaur museum, so making such a judgment is at best…what’s the word again? Yeah. Judgmental. At best, it is judgmental. At worst, Boston is an anti-Christian bigot. He continues…

“Believe me, these kids will be more disappointed years from now if entire careers are closed off to them because they were taught to disbelieve fundamental elements of modern biology as youngsters.

Yes. Yes, absolutely. A trip to dinosaur museum will completely close off whole careers to these third-grade Glendive students. Because, as everyone knows, you simply cannot believe that the world didn’t fling itself together in perfect order from perfect chaos and be a surgeon, chemist, scientist or paleontologist. Except for, you know, all the surgeons, chemists, scientists and paleontologists who currently don’t believe that [cue a lesson for Mr. Boston on all the greatest scientists who believe in a divinely-led creation – guys like cell biologist, David Minton, geophysicist, John Baumgardner, nuclear physicist John Humphreys or my own brother-in-law who’s a stellar surgeon in New York…you know, a bunch of ignorant rubes like those guys]. Thank Darwin that we have guys like Mr. Boston all the way in Maryland looking out for us. What would we do without bloggers determining who is and who is not a “real scientist,” with comments like…

The tragedy of this event is that Glendive is located in an area that is rich in dinosaur fossils. Real scientists often collect specimens there…[The field trip] was also, I would submit, a serious form of educational malpractice.

Thankfully, a blogger with a journalism degree from the University of Pennsylvania is able to tell us what is or is not actual science done by actual scientists. I’m just a rube from Montana, after all, and book learnin’ is clearly for people from New England with that fancy state-school diploma. I’m not even sure how the neanderthals down at the Glendive museum even know how to put on their socks in the morning.

In all seriousness, the type of vehement hatred displayed at the Americans United blog reveals their real biases…they hate God, they hate religion, they especially hate Christianity, and in the end, they hate science. The latter is evident in their panic regarding scientific or theoretical competition, the former is downright explicit.

Because Barry Lynn is the director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who – like Southeastern Baptist Seminary President, Danny Akin – has endorsed Openly Secular, Pulpit & Pen tweeted out to Akin this morning…

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Sarah Jones, an employee for Americans United communications director, Rob Boston, responded…

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Of course, Ms. Jones is wholly incorrect. The decisive court case in the matter is 1987 Supreme Court ruling, Edwards vs Aguillard, which although is more nuanced than some might suggest, does not prohibit the teaching of creation science or any number within a “variety of scientific theories about the origins of mankind to schoolchildren.” Now, cue Mr. Boston’s immediate dismissal of anything but Darwinian evolution as “indoctrination.” I can imagine Boston using air-quotes around the term creation science as I type this. Good for him. That’s what you call – no air-quotes necessary – bigotry. And beyond that, it’s called academic censorship.

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Apparently, for Ms. Jones and the folks over at Americans United, to present a competing scientific theory of the origin of the species violates the religious freedom of non-Christian public school students. Because, clearly, the 1st Amendment prohibits “violating the religious freedom” of students by exposing them to competing scientific theories. Obviously, that’s what the founders had in mind when they ratified the amendment in 1791. Now, let’s look at the amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now, Ms. Jones kept saying things like this…

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Of course, a strict constructionist would have to ask what law Congress was passing in order to establish a religion that Americans United was worried about. Was Congress passing a law? What does the Glendive school district have to do with Congress passing a law? Was a religion being established? Or were kids going to a dinosaur museum…to see dinosaurs?

And yet, convincing an avowed atheist that spontaneous generation is a ridiculous and unscientific notion was not our point. Our point was that Danny Akin, along with the director of Americans United, Barry Lynn, have endorsed the atheist-agnostic activist group, Openly Secular. You can see Lynn’s endorsement here and SBC seminary  president, Danny Akin’s endorsement here. What Pulpit & Pen wants to point out is not that atheists are acting badly (“pagans be pagans,” after all), but that we have a Southern Baptist seminary president partnering with the likes of Barry Lynn and Americans United Against the Separation of Church and State with an organization spreading a secular worldview called “Openly Secular” and unless I’m tripping really, really badly on mushrooms and this is all one crazy dream, that’s messed up.

Our conversation with Ms. Jones continued, as we asked her opinion of Danny Akin’s endorsement…

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Well, we tried to point out a few facts. There first one was inconsequential, unless you’re a baptist. Roger Williams doesn’t exactly deserve a place in the Baptist Hall of Fame. First, Williams was only a Baptist for a very short period of time, before leaving the church and becoming apostate (which Pulpit & Pen wrote briefly about here).

But in actuality, Mrs. Jones is right about the Baptists’ core belief in religious freedom and the separation of church and state. What we pointed out is that three (real) baptists who we should most thank for this concept coming to America in the form of a colonial charter is Obadiah Holmes, John Clarke and John Crandall. Their beating in Boston Square over observing Baptist Communion led to Rhode Island’s royal charter with religious liberty from government oppression in 1663. The charter, written by Clarke, said the following…

“that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested [harassed], punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony…

It’s true that Article XVII of the Baptist Faith and Message speaks of our endorsement for the separation of church and state. It’s true that the term “separation of church and state” was first present (or at least most notably) in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists

And yet, John Clarke – who received provisions for the state-church separation in Rhode Island (and first in America – 1640) helped to establish the first truly-public school in America. The first public school teacher was Clarke’s student and successor, and that school taught the basics of what can clearly be called a “Christian education.” Clearly, what is meant by “separation of church and state” for the Apostate, Williams, or the Baptists, Clark, Crandall and Holmes were entirely different than what is meant by Americans United.

But then again, the point of this diatribe isn’t that anti-Christian bigotry exists or that little school districts in Fly-Over America are bullied by liberal, feminist atheists with megaphones. We know this and it’s not surprising. I homeschool. At the end of the day, really, whatever…

What’s surprising – and frustrating beyond belief – is that the organization that pushed its secular humanist religion on the Glendive School District is in partnership with an SBC seminary president. Congratulations, Danny. Good company you keep. Sincerely, we hope the “important things we can agree on” you mentioned in your endorsement (like climate change) are worth it to you.

Lord, please have mercy.

 

[Contributed by JD Hall]

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2 Responses

  1. June 16, 2015

    […] Dinosaurs and Danny Akin – Pulpit & Pen […]

  2. June 16, 2015

    […] Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (we’ve written about his endorsement here, here, here and here). A Georgia messenger asked the […]

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