Christian geologist files discrimination complaint against Grand Canyon officials

A discrimination complaint was filed by a Christian geologist against officials of the Grand Canyon National Park, saying he was denied a research permit because of his religious beliefs.

(REUTERS / Jim Urquhart)The Colorado River runs through Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona, April 13, 2015.

On May 9, Dr. Andrew Snelling filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court of Arizona against Grand Canyon National Park officials who rejected his permit to collect rock samples. He alleges that the federal officials denied him a research permit based on negative comments made by some consultants, 12 News details.

"The actual reason behind the rejection was because of Dr. Snelling's Christian faith and scientific viewpoints informed by his Christian faith," the civil complaint says. 

According to the complaint, Dr. Snelling was previously allowed to conduct his research in the Grand Canyon. However, things took a different in 2013 when researchers who reviewed his proposal made derogatory remarks about his study, with one statement describing his research as "dead end creationist material."

Dr. Peter Huntoon of the University of Wyoming suggested that the Park Service examine the credential of submitters to filter out those that stand for "inappropriate interests." Another researcher also described Dr. Snelling's proposal as "outlandish."

"They are discriminating against a good scientist because of his faith and because of who he associates with," said Alliance for Defending Freedom attorney Gary McCaleb. "The scientists should be debating the science and the government should not be coming in and saying, 'Well you're a Christian, you're not the right kind of scientist.'"

ADF pointed out that merely weeks ago, people joined the "March for Science" to call for the inclusion of people from all kinds of backgrounds in the scientific circle. U.S. President Donald Trump had also inked an executive order prohibiting executive agencies from discriminating against religious individuals and groups.

In light of the situation, the complaint is asking for financial compensation for Dr. Snelling's legal fees and nominal damages determined by the court. The Grand Canyon National Park, on the other hand, has not commented on the lawsuit.