Ark Encounter sues over ‘discrimination’
Creationist loons who came up with the idea of an Ark Encounter theme park in northern Kentucky this week filed a federal lawsuit against state officials for refusing to include their project in the state’s tax rebate incentive programme.
Katherine Paige, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, pointed out on the day the lawsuit was filed that:
Despite the fact that Ark Encounter initially assured the state that it would abide by state and federal employment anti-discrimination laws, a job listing by Answers in Genesis for an Ark Encounter computer technician included some serious religious prerequisites.
Applicants were required, among other things, to provide a statement of faith and answer a question regarding their estimation of the age of Earth. (Presumably, any response in excess of 6,000 years, ie, correct responses, would disqualify an applicant from employment.)
It quickly became clear that Answers in Genesis and Ark Encounter intended to offer jobs exclusively to Christians, and not just any Christians, but “Young Earth” creationists. So Kentucky pulled the plug, and rightly so.
She said that Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis President and CEO, has repeatedly accused “secular media” and “secular bloggers” of spreading misinformation about the state sales tax incentive programme for which Ark Encounter applied.
In a news release last month, Ham specifically blamed FFRF for helping “pressure” Kentucky officials into denying Ark Encounter’s application, claiming that FFRF had been “spreading misinformation and outright untruths” about the project.
According to this report, the lawsuit cites violations to federal and state laws as well as unlawful discrimination against Ark Encounter by Governor Steve Beshear and Robert Stewart, Kentucky’s Secretary of the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage.
Our organisation 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.
In a video that it produced concerning the lawsuit, AiG stated when the Ark project started in 2014, state officials granted preliminary approval for the company to receive a rebate from new state sales taxes but rescinded the agreement after “anti-Christian groups” lobbied against AiG’s policy of only hiring Christians, as well as the messages that will be presented in the Bible-themed park.
Explaining its decision to launch a billboard campaign, AiG said:
This Noah’s Ark theme park will present the historicity of the biblical account of the massive ship of Noah’s time, which is rejected today by Bible scoffers in various anti-Christian groups.
Many of these secular groups, as they relegate Noah’s Ark to a myth, are passing around their own Ark myths. These agitators outside the state are trying to affect the project by spreading misinformation and putting pressure on the state of Kentucky to undermine the project.
To counter this intense misinformation campaign by secularists and many in the media, a billboard campaign (and other initiatives) has been launched to get people to discover the truth about the Ark project
Tourism Secretary Stewart earlier confirmed that the project’s religious content lay behind the decision not to subsidise it to the tune of around $18-million. He said:
Certainly, Ark Encounter has every right to change the nature of the project from a tourism attraction to a ministry. However, state tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion.
Governor Beshears for his part took issue with the park’s decision to limit their hiring to members of the Christian faith, following AiG’s admission to tourism officials that they would be including religion in the criteria in their hiring process.
It has become apparent that they do intend to use religious beliefs as a litmus test for hiring decisions.
Ken, you can hire all the Young Earthers you want, but don’t expect Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill. If you want public money, play by the rules.