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Ark Encounter School District flooded with Separation of Church and State Violations

November 15, 2016


Tri-State Freethinkers, the nonprofit organization that led the Ark Encounter Protest this past summer, have since been inundated with documented violations of the separation of church and state stemming from the very county the Ark Encounter resides, Grant County. Violations, some dating back as far as 2009, include misuse of school communications to promote religious events, Christian and bible displays in school offices, religious themed homework assignments in Chemistry class, and the harassment of children reading books about evolution.  

Possibly the most troubling report Tri-State Freethinkers received was that regarding current Athletic Director Brian Smallwood. Pastor Smallwood is listed as Campus Minister on Grant County High School's website. He additionally serves as Youth Minister to Dry Ridge Baptist Church and lists his mission as "to REACH non -Christian students, to help them SHARE in God's Word, to OFFER themselves in SERVICE to Christ, and to CARE for one another, while enabling students to understand and recognize who Jesus Christ is, and what it is to live for Him only." Pastor Smallwood used Grant County School newsletters to promote church events and fundraisers for church mission trips.


Given the variety and pervasiveness of the violations reported, Tri-State Freethinkers demanded that the District address the specific violations reported, and requested the District train all employees about their obligation to remain neutral toward religion under the Establishment Clause.

It is clear why Answers in Genesis President, Ken Ham, chose Grant County for the location of the controversial Ark Encounter Park. Ham has clearly benefited from the blind eye turned by local officials, much to the detriment of future generations.

Letter to Grant County Schools
Grant County Letter.PDF
PDF File [6.0 MB]
Grant County High School FCA
Grant County FCA Website.JPG
JPG File [104.9 KB]

Ark Encounter Protest

Thursday, July 7 at 10am

We will be protesting the Ark Encounter on their opening day on July 7th in Williamstown, KY.  Join us to protest the grand opening of the Ark Encounter! Their mission is anti-science, the Noah's Ark story is immoral, and they maintain discriminatory hiring practices while receiving up to $18 M in state tax incentives. We are making a stand for science, equal rights and the separation of church and state. Join us at the protest to show your support! 

Confirmed to be at the Protest:
David Silverman - President, American Atheists 
Dan Barker - Co-President, FFRF
David Smalley - Dogma Debate 
Aron Ra
Callie Wright - Gaytheist Manifesto
Dan Arel
Kevin Davis - Executive Director, Young Skeptics
Larry Decker - Executive Director, Secular Coalition of America
National Media
More information available on our Facebook Event page.  

Rally for Science & Reason

FREE EVENT! Hear from several national speakers on the importance of science & reason over religion & dogma, and what we can do about it. If you care about teaching evolution not intelligent design in public schools, reproductive freedom not restriction, equal rights not discrimination, you need to be here and show your support!


Jim G. Helton 
President, Tri-State Freethinkers 

David Silverman 
President, American Atheists 

Dan Barker 
Co-President, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) 

Aron Ra 

Callie Wright 
Gaytheist Manifest 

David Smalley 
Dogma Debate - Live Broadcast!!! 

Kevin Davis 
Executive Director, Young Skeptics 

Larry Decker 
Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America


Chrissy Helton 
Co-Founder & Treasurer, Tri-State Freethinkers 

Anna Butcher 
President, UC Secular Student Alliance 

Tracey Moody 

Ed Hensley 
Kentucky Secular Society & Louisville Atheists


Dan Arel 


For the latest information, view our Facebook event and let us know you will be there!  



Genocide & Incest Billboard Campaign
We have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund our billboard that will counter the Ark Encounter grand opening in July.  The replica of Noah's Ark is the newest project by Answers in Genesis to promote creationism. While they have a legal right to celebrate their mythology, we find it immoral and highly inappropriate as family entertainment. In addition, the park is receiving state tax incentives despite discriminatory hiring practices.  For these reasons, we have created this campaign to raise awareness in our communities.
Fun Fact: That Adopt a Highway sign you see, that's in front of the Creation Museum!


Freedom From Religion Nativity Display

The Freedom From Religion Foundation acquired a permit to place its Bill of Rights "nativity" display on the lawn of the Franklin County Courthouse. The FFRF asked the Tri-State Freethinkers to be on site to put up the display in Franklin County.  We were there on Sunday November 29. Learn more about this event.




The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women resolution has been passed, now comes the hard work of getting the Cincinnati City Council to pass the ordinance. We will be reaching out to local organizations to form a coalition that will oversee and execute needed reforms to protect women from discrimination. The City of Cincinnati will fund a study that will identify problem areas.



Separation of Church and State

The First Amendment allows citizens the freedom to practice (or not to practice) any religion of their choice. We believe that a Separation of Church and State is imperative to protecting these rights for both theists and nontheists.


Report a Violation



Interfaith Hospitality Network

In 2016, Tri-State Freethinkers will be a support congretation for IHN of Greater Cincinnati.The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) is a unique partnership of religious and community organizations that provide shelter, meals and support services to families experiencing homelessness. 


Learn more about this event

Freestore Foodbank

Every month we volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank. The Freestore Foodbank is the largest emergency food and services provider in the Tri-State area, providing more than 20 million meals annually over a 20 county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.  

Check our calendar for upcoming events


Faces without Places

We love to throw parties, especially for others. We have partnered with Faces without Places to throw birthday parties for homeless children. We bring the entertainment and sweets, they leave with the biggest smiles knowing that someone remembered to celebrate their special day!

March 10, 2016 will be our third year hosting this event. Come join us!


Beyond Belief Award

In May 2015, TSF was named Team of the Month by the Beyond Belief Network. The Foundation Beyond Belief lists its mission as: 

To demonstrate humanism at its best by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life, and to challenge humanists to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility.


We share this belief and are honored to be named as Team of the Month. 


Next Monthly Meeting
Artificial Intelligence & Rebel Livin'
April 4, 2016 from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Newport on the Levee

Learn more about this event

If you would like to speak at one of our events, please contact us at: tsfreethinkers@gmail.com.

Tri-State Skeptics

Tri-State Skeptics provides science based events to our members. Learn more about Skeptics 


Our next event is Cryonics on April 6. 

Tri-State FreeReaders

The Tri-State FreeReaders is a monthly book discussion group that explores religious, atheistic and scientific themes. Learn more.

Our next book discussion is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. 

Vegan Dinner

Our Last Supper of the Month Vegan Dinner allows us to share and teach others about vegan dishes. Our next supper will be on Sunday, March 27.


Hero and Villian Summit Murder Mystery

Join us for another great murder mystery! Our story is set at a superhero sanctuary at a meeting with heroes and villains across the globe to discuss the capture of the recently escaped archenemy of humankind - The Moon King. Dust off your cape and get out the spandex for this great adventure. Cost $20 per ticket, $5 discount for members who have paid 2016 dues. Learn more about this event.


Please RSVP on Meetup and then Pay for your ticket.

Board Games

The highlight of the week! TSF members and members from Tri-State Board Games meet on Friday nights for board, card, and party games. Learn more.



Disc Golf & Hiking

We play disc golf at several of the courses in the area regularly during the summer and fall. Hiking events are also frequently scheduled. View our calendar to find events.

Murder Mysteries

Our murder mysteries have been a huge hit! Fun, intrigue, and entertaining party games make these a unique experience for everyone. You must RSVP on Meetup to attend. Learn more.


Pay for a Murder Mystery



  Planned Parenthood Phone banks



31 Movie Night: Sharknado
  Board Games
  Disc Golf


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