Monday, August 1, 2016

The Definition of an Atheist -- the kennie ham way

Apparently little kennie ham (of AiG, Creation 'Museum' and now the new 'Ark Park' infamy) defines an Atheist as anyone who doesn't believe as he believes.  Here's an example, "Ken Ham: Atheists 'Go Ballistic' When Children Visit Ark Encounter, Speak Against Naturalism"  So who is speaking out against public school kids visiting kennie's monuments to his own beliefs?  Anyone who reads the Constitution for comprehension should be speaking out.The FFRF has voiced a concern about using public funds to send public school children to visit little kennie's church, as well they should.  I bet school system legal advisers are reminding teachers and staff about that same issue.  I bet many of those folks aren't actually atheists, but from kennie's point of view, they must be because they will be advising against visiting one of his ministries.

Seriously, have you read the First Amendment to the Constitution? I don't believe kennie has. Here it is (I underlined the parts about religion):
"The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances." (Wikipedia: "First Amendment to the United States Constitution")
Now, like the rest of the Constitution, anyone with an opinion tries to 'interpret' it in a way that benefits them.  We know kennie is very experienced at 'interpreting' things, just look what he did to a defenseless Bible!  In this case what it means is that over the years various courts, up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States, have made rulings explaining the meaning of the various amendments including the First Amendment (I underlined the part I wanted you to notice):
In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another ".
Tell me how public schools funding public school students to visit one of kennie's ministries isn't showing a preference for one religion over another?  There isn't a person in the world who would hazard an opinion that little kennie's tourist traps represent all of the world's religions, right?  A visit to one of his craptastic places of worship is designed to immerse the visitor in kennie's particular belief set, nothing more.  In his often voiced opinion he is the only expert on the Bible, his religious views are the only 'correct' ones, and he is the ultimate authority on everything.  Read his blog, check out his many press releases, or any interview . . you'll see what I mean.

Does anyone actually believe that the same group of parents/teachers would support using school funds to visit a Mosque, a Jewish Temple, or a Hindu Temple?  Highly doubtful!  Imagine that in order to justify visiting kennie, it's part of a larger set of visits to other religious places.  So let's build an itinerary, how many places of worship are there in the United States?  Is it possible to count them all?  Doubtful, so I guess we have to narrow the choices down a bit.  So let's set an upper limit to the number of places a single school could be reasonably fund for a group of students?  Say 10?  Well, knowing school budgets like I do, 10 is probably more field trips than any single group of students will see in their complete K through 12 academic career, but let's use it as an upper limit simply for the sake of argument.

So, if a school system was dedicated to funding 10 school trips to multiple places of worship, let's say it is for the purpose of a Comparative Religion class to frame these visits as actually educational, how do we narrow the 10 locations from the thousands, or more than likely hundreds of thousands of locations representing the thousands of religious groups currently operating within the US?  I am sure that each one feels their site is the most important religious site in the world!

That's a tough question, what would be the best criteria . . . census data?  Worship attendance criteria?  Self-identification?  Popularity of the potential site?  It really doesn't matter what criteria we use, little kennie wouldn't rate in the top 10 in any of those lists.  His narrow Fundamentalist group is only a very small part of the much larger Evangelical population and any objective criteria would probably never mention kennie's places of worship except maybe in the footnotes. (  Even when you Google tourist sites in Kentucky alone, you don't see mention of kennie's places.  Kentucky seems much more interested in horses, bourbon, nature, and history than in feeding kennie's ego.

It's hard to pin down exact numbers because fundamentalist groups, like kennie's, tends to be lumped into the larger group of Evangelicals because there is such widespread differences between even each group of fundamentalist Evangelicals, let alone once you start looking at the actual mainstream Evangelical groups.  So if we use any measurable criteria to select 10 religious sites, representing multiple faiths, to actually give students a broad base in order to actually compare and contrast various religious faiths, kennie's pseudo-museum and model ark wouldn't appear on the radar.  But suppose a school system did?.

Can you hear the hue and cry if a school did fund such a thing and scheduled 10 such visits!  Look at the issues with school vouchers. When they were passed into law in a number of states no one uttered much noise.  When they were used to send children to Christian schools, again there were a few complaints, but nothing Earth-shattering.  Most people seemed to agree using tax money to send students to private schools, even religious ones, was a good way to alleviate some of the issues surrounding public schools.  But when they were used to send some children to Muslim schools, people started screaming!  And what was the first item on the list used to justify this outrage?  You guessed it -- the US Constitution.

Does anyone really think a plan to send students to multiple religion's sacred sites wouldn't meet opposition . . . and what do you think the main point of the opposition will be? The lawyers would be lining up like there was an ambulance crash!  The first item each and every one would raise would be the first Amendment of the US Constitution.  The same one kennie is trying to use to justify allowing school children to visit his site!

So how does little kennie head off any objections to his opportunity to brainwash schoolchildren?  He is trying to pass off his latest ministry as something with educational, recreational, and/or historical value in order for some gullible parents and teachers to bring students to his ark park. Can anyone really tell me what is educational, recreational, or historical about visiting one of kennie's various churches?  It tells a particularly narrow view of one very Fundamentalist Evangelical branch of Christianity to the absolute exclusion of any other view, even other fundamentalist evangelical viewpoints!  It denigrates real science in order to rationalize its view and kennie spent about $100 million dollars of other peoples' money to build a replica of a metaphorical ark. Where is anything but a purely religious purpose in all this?  I certainly can't see it.

And, in my opinion, if you can see it, I believe you are simply doing what kennie is doing -- a massive case of Rationalization.  Frequently, little kennie has declared his pseudo-museum and ark park are ministries, not educational institutions, not recreational attractions, not historical monuments . . . Ministries!  With the collusion of public officials he discriminates in the hiring of people for his ark park.  He has received tax breaks that could very well leave the people in Kentucky in a financial bind if his incredibly optimistic attendance projections aren't met . . . and so far it appears his numbers far exceeded reality, but he hasn't officially released any numbers that I have been able to find.  He did take a photo from his press day, which was well attended and tried to pass them off as photos of his opening day, but got busted doing that.  

So, as we started out with how I believe little kennie defines an Atheist, but I think he needs a new term.  An Atheist is not someone who doesn't share kennie's particular brand of kool-aid, but someone who doesn't believe in the existence of any deities, not just the one kennie defines for his Hamians.  So rather than discriminate against all Atheists, kennie needs to be more specific, how about 'anti-Ham'?  I know that sounds more like someone who doesn't like pork . . . but that seems remarkably applicable in this case as well.  What do you think?

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