The legislative arm of the conservative Family Research Council has launched a petition in support of geologist Andrew Snelling, a creationist who is suing Grand Canyon National Park over what he says is religious discrimination.
FRC Action's petition, started on Wednesday, is directed at Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Director of the National Park Service Mike Reynolds, and officials within the Grand Canyon National Park.
The petition states: "The ongoing discrimination against Dr. Andrew Snelling is a clear violation of his First Amendment rights. Dr. Snelling is an experienced geologist with a Ph.D. from the internationally acclaimed University of Sydney, a published author, and a Christian.
"His religious beliefs should in no way lead to restrictions on his access to readily-available and otherwise easily-accessible government resources. The actions of the National Park Service officials are unconstitutional attempts to hinder Dr. Snelling's research and silence his evidenced-based scientific opinions. We call on you to end this hostility and provide the permits and access that Dr. Snelling requests."
Snelling charged federal officials earlier in May of denying him a research permit to collect rock samples, arguing that park authorities took issues with his creationist beliefs.
AiG, which is led by Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham, believes in a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, and rejects wide-spread teachings such as human evolution.
The complaint alleges that NPS' actions "demonstrate animus toward the religious viewpoints of Dr. Snelling," and that they "violate Dr. Snelling's free exercise rights by imposing inappropriate and unnecessary religious tests to his access to the park."
The Alliance Defending Freedom has also spoken out on the case, claiming that park officials ran Snelling through a "gamut of red tape."
"Scientists will always look at data and challenge one another's interpretations of the information," said ADF attorney Gary McCaleb.
"Such disagreement is how science works. But when the government starts refusing access to even collect the information because it dislikes one scientist's views, it undercuts science and violates the law. And this case perfectly illustrates why President Trump had to order executive agencies to affirm religious freedom, because park officials specifically targeted Dr. Snelling's religious faith as the reason to stop his research."
NPS has not respond to the allegations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported late last week. The Christian Post's request for comment on May 10 also went unanswered.
FRC Action's petition has received nearly 15,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.