Answers in Genesis (AiG) announced yesterday they would sue the State of Kentucky in federal court. The Kentucky tourism development board reneged on their earlier offer of tax incentives to Ark Encounter, LLC. Ark Encounter has started to build the first-ever full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark.
Kentucky reneges on earlier agreement
On December 10, 2014, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet abruptly canceled the planned tax incentives. Ark Encounter, LLC had applied for and received abatements on sales-tax collection at its proposed Ark Encounter park for the first ten years of operation. Mike Wynn of the Courier-Journal filed this report the next day. The tourism board accused AiG and Ark Encounter of “chang[ing] its position on hiring policies” after the board first granted the abatements. They also, according to Wynn, said the park had changed from a tourist attraction to an “extension of the ministry” of AiG.
Mike Wynn offered no link to the letter. (Neither did AiG in their announcement yesterday.)
Ken Ham, head of AiG, said immediately he would consider legal action. Yesterday, in an e-mail to supporters, he confirmed: AiG will sue. They have retained legal counsel from Freedom Guard and from the Center for Religious Expression. Lawyers for both organizations will press the case for AiG pro bono. AiG also left this article on their own site, which they adapted from their press release.
In speaking to the press, Ken Ham emphasized he tried to resolve the issue with the State of Kentucky. He called the renege a “blatant…example of increasing government hostility toward religion.”
AiG makes its case
The State acted after atheist organizations complained about the tax abatement grant. Many atheists “warned” Kentucky would make itself a laughingstock by granting tourist incentive to a monument to what they see as a just-so story for children. This, although in the past the tourism cabinet has granted such abatements to a brewery and a motor speedway.
Freedom Guard recently defended traditional marriage in Louisiana. The Center for Religious Expression recently filed suit in San Bernardino, Calif., on behalf of a man preaching on the street near two courthouses.
AiG is pressing a simple issue of discrimination. The hiring practices of AiG should make no difference to the tourism cabinet. Anyone who operates a tax-incentivized tourist attraction should have the right to hire whom they want and promote whatever message they want, without regard to religion or irreligion.
In addition, Governor Steve Bashear and the tourism secretary made no objection to “hiring policies” until the atheists complained. They knew, or should have known, Ark Encounter LLC would hire only those adhering to the AiG statement of faith. AiG has hired people at their Creation Museum on the same condition since the museum opened. No one has asked how the governor could have failed to notice this practice for four years.
Ark Encounter LLC continues to build its Noah’s Ark replica.