The Interior Department is facing a lawsuit from a Christian geologist who claims he was not allowed to collect rocks from Grand Canyon National Park because of his creationist beliefs.
In the suit filed earlier this month, the Australian geologist, Andrew Snelling, says that religious discrimination was behind the National Park Service's (NRS's) decision to deny him a permit to gather samples from four locations in the park.
Snelling had hoped to gather the rocks to support the creationist belief that a global flood about 4,300 years ago was responsible for rock layers and fossil deposits around the world.
NPS's actions "demonstrate animus towards the religious viewpoints of Dr. Snelling," the complaint alleges, "and violate Dr. Snelling's free exercise rights by imposing inappropriate and unnecessary religious tests to his access to the park."
The lawsuit was filed May 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. NPS has yet to respond to the allegations.
Remember when we discussed Rocks Request Rejection issue back in May? The discussion was nothing if not spirited.
Andrew Snelling, who got a PhD in geology before joining Answers in Genesis, continues working to interpret the canyon in a way that is consistent with his views. In 2013, he requested permission from the National Park Service to collect some rock samples in the canyon for a new project to that end.
The National Park Service sent Snelling's proposal out for review, having three academic geologists who study the canyon look at it. Those reviews were not kind. Snelling didn't get his permit. Snelling sued.
Well It turns out the guy gets to harvest his bag-o-rocks because the the National Park Service has decided its easier to give a few rocks than take the religious flack.
That lawsuit was withdrawn by Snelling on June 28. According to a story in The Australian, Snelling withdrew his suit because the National Park Service has relented and granted him his permit. He will be able to collect about 40 fist-sized samples, provided that he makes the data from any analyses freely available.
Further he promises to publish his findings in a peer reviewed journal. Perhaps even his own journal. Perhaps even his own peers.