Answers in Genesis CEO and President Ken Ham accused atheist groups of "showing their intolerance for anything — or anyone" Christian, after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to a high school in Georgia claiming that the school's decision to invite a Creationist speaker to talk to students is "unconstitutional."
"Christians are not second-class citizens barred from participating in society or from speaking in the public sphere. In no way is having a Christian give a lecture on critical thinking a violation of the First Amendment. If FFRF wants to claim that Christians can't speak on critical thinking, then neither can they," Ham argued in a blog post.
Troup County Comprehensive High School in LaGrange invited in late March Eric Hovind, the president of the Florida-based ministry Creation Today, to a debate class. According to Christian News Network, Hovind has said that he did not talk about his faith or creation during the class, but participated in a general discussion on critical thinking.
FFRF staff attorney Elizabeth Cavill argued in a letter to the superintendent of the high school, however, that there needs to be an investigation into Hovind's appearance.
"It is unconstitutional and completely inappropriate for TCCHS to host a fundamentalist Christian speaker whose sole purpose and goal is the promotion of biblical Creationism," the letter, written by staff attorney Elizabeth Cavill, read.
"It is difficult for us to understand how this presentation could have been approved," she wrote. "Your community undoubtedly includes many people who have professional experience … to discuss 'critical thinking' with students interested in debate, and whose presence would not violate clear constitutional dictates."
The Center for Religious Expression responded, however, by sending its own letter to school officials, insisting that the school did nothing wrong.
"The gist of FFRF's argument is that Mr. Hovind cannot be allowed to speak in a public school because he holds religious views," attorney Nate Kellum responded. "The suggestion that Mr. Hovind's presence in a public school violates the establishment clause because he is a Christian is untenable."
Kellum described FFRF's claim that Hovind's presentation amounts to "religious instruction" is "downright silly."
The letter added: "His presentation did not even mention anything religious. … Indisputably, your school invited Mr. Hovind to speak on the secular topic of critical thinking, and in this context it was only appropriate for him to teach this topic referencing his own personal experiences, just like any other speaker would do in the same capacity."
In his blog post, Ham said that "this is the type of intimidation these secular groups are often using to try to inhibit Christians from speaking out in this country."
He added: "Really, such secular groups want freedom of speech as long it is their own! They want freedom of religion as long as it is their own religion (i.e., the worldview of naturalism and humanism I mention below)! They want the free exercise of religion as long as it is only for them!"
Ham, who is also the Creation Museum CEO and president, has previously criticized the education system in the western world, which he said mostly teaches students only one side of the evolution debate, and seeks to ignore the creationist worldview.
"Currently in the USA and virtually all the western world, students are just being taught one side of the story and teachers aren't even allowed to present the grave problems with evolution to their students! In reality, western public schools have told teachers that they must protect evolutionary naturalism. This is not education; this is indoctrination," Ham wrote back in February.