Apparently the "minds" behind the Creation Museum in Kentucky are not as Christian as the "good book" teaches them to be.
Barton combined hours of observation and analysis of museum materials into an ethnography, a detailed narrative about a place and its culture that is often used in sociology. Unlike other research methods, the ethnography does not strive for impartiality; rather, the researchers recognize and reflect on their own reactions to what they see.
On her third trip to the museum, Barton took her undergraduate students, who found the visit unsettling. Several in the group were former fundamentalists who had since rejected that worldview. Several others were gay. In part because of these backgrounds, Barton said, the students were on edge at the museum. Particularly nerve-wracking were signs warning that guests could be asked to leave the premises at any time. The group's reservation confirmation also noted that museum staff reserved the right to kick the group off the property if they were not honest about the "purpose of [the] visit."
Because of these messages, Barton said, the students felt they might accidentally reveal themselves as nonbelievers and be asked to leave. This pressure is a form of "compulsory Christianity" that is common in a region known for its fundamentalism, Barton said. People who don't ascribe to fundamentalism often report the need to hide their thoughts for fear of being judged or snubbed.
At one point, Barton reported in her paper, a guard with a dog circled a student pointedly twice without saying anything. When he left, a museum patron approached the student and said, "The reason he did that is because of the way you're dressed. We know you're not religious; you just don't fit in." (The student was wearing leggings and a long shirt, Barton writes.)
The pressures were particularly tough for gay members of the group, thanks to exhibits discussing the sinfulness of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. A lesbian couple became paranoid about being near or touching one another, afraid they would be "found out," Barton writes. This "self-policing" is a common occurrence in same-sex relationships in the Bible Belt, Barton said.
I wonder what security would do if I walked in dressed in a long, white robe with sandals. Do you suppose they would call the press to announce my coming?