Answers in Genesis, the religious organization behind the construction of a Noah’s Ark theme park, is suing the state of Kentucky. The organization is miffed because state tourism officials denied the Ark Encounter theme park 18 million dollars worth of tax incentives. The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet rejected the request because Answers in Genesis discriminates against non-Christians in hiring practices.
Kentucky Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart argued, in a December letter, that:
State tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion. The use of state incentives in this way violates the separation of church and state provisions of the Constitution and is therefore impermissible.
State officials contend that the group has morphed from a tourist attraction into a proselytizing arm for the Answers in Genesis ministry. Consequently, supplying state funds for the project are not appropriate. Answers in Genesis promotes a literal interpretation of the Old Testament. The fundamentalist organization also contends that the earth is just 6000 years old.
Ironically, the Answers in Genesis group, is trying to argue that the state of Kentucky is violating the First Amendment and practicing anti-Christian bigotry by not allowing the group to discriminate against non-Christians. Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham stated:
Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary. However, the state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court. This is the latest example of increasing government hostility towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant.
Ham’s position apparently is that if the state of Kentucky doesn’t provide 18 million dollars to help build the ark, they are engaging in persecution of Christians. The 73 million dollar project appears to be floundering without the benefit of the anticipated 18 million dollars in state welfare, which is being withheld due to the group’s discriminatory practices. Answers in Genesis is suing the state of Kentucky, but suing for the legal right to discriminate gives them a very weak case.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.