National Park Service file photo

Grand Canyon National Park Gives In to Creationist Suing for Religious Discrimination

The park will now allow Andrew Snelling, a young-Earth creationist geologist, to collect rocks for research.

Back in May, Andrew Snelling sued Grand Canyon National Park officials after a failed, years-long attempt to get a research permit to collect rocks in the park. Snelling trained as geologist and he is young-Earth creationist who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible. In his view, the Grand Canyon formed after Noah’s flood.

Snelling has now dropped his case, as reported by the Phoenix New Times, after the park reversed course to issue him a permit for the rocks. In a press release, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal advocacy group that helped Snelling file the complaint, applauded the outcome, “We commend Park Service officials, Interior Secretary Zinke, and the Trump administration for understanding that specifically targeting Dr. Snelling’s faith as the reason to stop his research was both inappropriate and unconstitutional.”

The National Park Service confirmed that it has issued a permit for Snelling’s August 6 rafting trip in the park. “Issuance of the administrative launch permit neither implies an admission of fault by the NPS nor does it set a precedent for future issuance of administrative launch permits,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Snelling’s original research application did not mention his young-Earth creationist beliefs. Nor did it disclose his job as director of research at Answers in Genesis, the Ken Ham-led organization that runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky. But his religious beliefs did come up when the park sent his research application out to mainstream geologists for peer review.

One reviewer criticized the scientific validity of Snelling’s application and the “avowed creationist agenda” of young-Earth creationists. The reviewer acknowledged in an email to a park official, “In these types of proposals, you have a hard job.” 

In fact, Grand Canyon park officials are no stranger to creationist controversies. Just as the canyon is a potent symbol for geologists who see it the product of millions of years of geological forces, the canyon has taken on similar importance among young-Earth creationists. So much so that a group of Christian geologists—who are not young-Earth creationists—recently wrote a book about the Grand Canyon to refute the literal biblical interpretation of the Earth’s history.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of young-Earth creationist activity in the Grand Canyon. Snelling also works as a tour guide with Canyon Ministries, an outfit that offers rafting tours pointing out what they claim is evidence of Noah’s flood. These rafting trips require permits from the park. In 2004, a controversy erupted over a book by Canyon Ministries founder Tom Vail that was being sold at the national park’s bookstores. The Grand Canyon National Park has also approved research by young-Earth creationists, including Snelling, in the past. It’s unclear why they acted differently in this case.

The New York Times reported in late May that one of Snelling’s lawyers at ADF had heard from park officials, and the two sides were planning to meet. The case is resolved now, and Snelling will get his rocks. But the young-Earth creationists’ obsession with the Grand Canyon goes on.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.