Dr. Andrew Snelling has a Ph.D in geology from the University of Sydney, a world-renowned institution. He has written a number of articles and reports published in peer-reviewed science journals and has years of experience in geological research.
Yet, in 2013 when he wanted to take a few fist-sized geological samples from the Grand Canyon for research and scientific study, he was refused.
For decades officials with the Grand Canyon National Park have allowed scientists to take material from the Park for study. The Park had even given Snelling permission to gather samples in the past.
So, why did Park officials refuse Snelling this time?
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit, legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberties, alleges Park officials denied permission because Snelling is a Christian.
Snelling also works for Answers in Genesis, a Christian organization providing scientific evidence of creation. He does not accept the narrative that the Grand Canyon was created over 450 million years ago.
According to ADF, Dr Snelling was seeking “to gather samples at folds inside the canyon where all the layers were bent, but were not shattered because the rocks were still soft as they folded – supposedly remaining soft over a period of 450 million years.”
Before Park officials gives scientists permission to gather sample, they must first explain their objectives and give peer reviews of their work, which Snelling did.
Under normal circumstances, this is all that is necessary.
However, in Snelling’s case, ADF alleges Park officials turned to other scientists who had an “antipathy for Dr. Snelling’s religious beliefs and the religious views of the scientists who provided peer reviews on behalf of Dr. Snelling.”
ADF alleges one of these scientists told park officials that “ours is a secular society as per our constitution (sic)” and described his research as “inappropriate.”
The Park did not approve Snelling’s initial application.
In 2016, Snelling reapplied and this time Park officials gave Snelling permission, but he was not allowed to gather samples. Instead he needed to take photos and provide GPS coördinates of where he would be taking samples.
This would take more time and increase the costs of the research.
Since other scientists are not required to do this, ADF alleges “this appears to be a clear case of viewpoint discrimination.”
According to ADF, the Park stone-walled Snelling for three years, and eventually quit responding to his requests, even those made by his lawyers. This forced ADF to launch a lawsuit on Snelling’s behalf against the Department of the Interior, that manages America’s national park system.
In an interview with WND, Snelling said he expects debate on how the scientific evidence is interpreted, but “the Park shouldn’t prevent us from collecting data just like other scientists.”
ADF Allied attorney Michael Kitchen, who is helping represent Snelling in the case, added:
“The government isn’t allowed to discriminate against someone based on their viewpoint, and National Park officials have absolutely no legal justification in stopping a scientist from conducting research simply because they don’t agree with his views. Using someone’s views to screen them for a government benefit is unconstitutional.”