It is fairly obvious that when the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers devised the 1st Amendment prohibiting Congress or any government entity from establishing religion, they certainty also meant government cannot force taxpayers to fund religion. Still, Americans are spending at least $82.5 billion annually as of 2012 funding religion with nothing whatsoever in return except more attacks on gays, public schools, government and women. All the while, hardly any Americans and no politicians are willing to complain about the unconstitutionality of being forced by government to support religion. No doubt any one of the Founding Fathers would be screaming bloody murder about forcing Americans to fund religion, but likely none more than Founding Father, political theorist and second president of the United States Thomas Jefferson.
In 1796 Founding Father Jefferson said that in America, then and into perpetuity, religious freedom and the “wall of separation” specifically means that “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” It is just an abomination and extremely sad for Kentucky residents then, that a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge is completely ignorant of the 1st Amendment’s religious clauses and the Founders’ prohibition on “compelling” taxpayers to support a “religious worship, place and ministry” because he issued an court-enforced order from the bench forcing Kentucky taxpayers to financially support religion. Such is life in 21st Century America where theocrats are destroying democracy and thumbing their righteous noses at the Constitution while government turns a blind eye.
The religious “place” Kentucky taxpayers are being “compelled” to spend at least $18 million to build and support is the atrocious, anti-science and evangelical Answers in Genesis (AiG), Noah’s Ark theme park. The church-park is being built with taxpayer money regardless it is owned by a self-confessed “creationist ministry” that boasts it discriminates in hiring. The federal judge appointed by George W. Bush, Gregory Van Tatenhove, said that regardless the 1st Amendment, Kentucky taxpayers must give at least $18 million to the evangelical group Answers in Genesis despite the “evangelical creationist ministry” refuses to comply with state or federal rules prohibiting hiring discrimination. No-one is upset they are also being forced to “support a religious worship, place and ministry” by judicial fiat.
For ignorant Americans, Answers in Genesis is notorious for its religious Creation Museum where “Adam and Eve live in the mythical Garden of Eden and their children romp and play alongside dinosaurs” like Tyrannosaurus Rex while “the serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” In 2010, the religious group began work on an biblical attraction, “Ark Encounter,” built around the mythological Noah’s Ark.
Apparently, the AiG Christian ministry, like Republicans and the Bush-judge decided taxpayers should pay for building the religious park. The evangelical creation ministry demanded millions of dollars in tax subsidies under a Kentucky program that provides such subsidies for non-religious tourist attractions. The Bush-appointed Judge explained that since other non-religious tourist projects have received tax subsidies in the past, that it is high time to force taxpayers to subsidize religion. Previous tourist projects receiving tax subsidies include “the Newport Aquarium, Kentucky Speedway, Kentucky Kingdom, and multiple bourbon (whiskey) visitor centers such as Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Old Forester distilleries.”
The federal judge became involved because the creation ministry sued the state of Kentucky because state officials did their jobs and adhered to the Kentucky state constitution that prohibits tax incentives and direct taxpayer money to be spent to “advance religion.” Some politicians were also concerned that AiG regularly boasts about and “pledged to discriminate in hiring its employees based on the evangelical religion;” something the federal judge was well aware of in making his theocratic dispensation.
The creation ministry claimed that regardless of the state or federal Constitution, Kentucky is forbidden from denying subsidies from any government program solely because of evangelical group’s religious message. According to AiG, if Kentucky makes a tax subsidy available to non-religious groups, they damn sure cannot deny handing out free taxpayer money to a religious ministry.
The federal Bush-judge agreed and said that the creationist ministry is indeed entitled to, and owed, the $18 million in subsidies despite AiG’s pledge to continue engaging in employment discrimination. The judge based his decision “largely in a non-sequitur” about what the Christian ministry’s obligations might be if they were sued by an employee alleging discrimination. The judge remarked that federal theocratic law exempts “a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” from the federal ban on employment discrimination “with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities.”
What that means is that the creationist ministry is special and has the biblical right to hire only members of its faith without having to face a federal discrimination lawsuit. However, just because a federal ‘religious exemption’ from adhering to discrimination laws exists does not mean Kentucky is bound to offer its own theocratic rules to establish religion. It also means that Kentucky taxpayers should not be “compelled to support” a creationist ministry via a non-existent state theocratic exemption, or reward discrimination based on religion according to two separate Supreme Court rulings 27 years apart.
In 1983, the Supreme Court rejected a religious university’s claim that it was entitled to, and owed, federal taxpayer subsidies despite that the Bob Jones University prohibited interracial dating based on religion. In 2010, conservative High Court actually ruled against the “Christian Legal Society” that was legally denied federal money because it allowed a Christian student group to discriminate against “unrepentant homosexual conduct” because it violated state and federal law as well as the public school’s anti-discrimination policies.
This hideous ruling by the Bush-appointed federal judge, as one pundit noted, “rests on the extraordinary proposition that the state of Kentucky is mandated to subsidize discrimination.” That is true, of course, and is contrary to what the U.S. Constitution provides as the law of the land, but it typically misses the “America is not a theocracy” point. In the same manner that the Constitution prohibits discrimination, it also prohibits a federal judge or any government entity from forcing any American to “be compelled to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” Now someone needs to inform the Bush-appointed judge that forcing Kentucky taxpayers to fund religion is not only unconstitutional, it is something a real Founding Father, Constitution framer, and second president of the United States Thomas Jefferson specifically said was what the religious clauses in the 1st Amendment and “wall of separation” between church and state were intended to prevent.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.