The people behind the proposed Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky, Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, are promising to fight for their “religious freedom” — err, I mean fight for the tax breaks they were granted. Those tax breaks are now in jeopardy because of their plan to hire only a particular brand of Christians to work at the park.
Ark Encounter, which is slated to open in 2016 in Williamston, Kentucky, is not hiring anyone yet, but its parent company, Answers in Genesis, asks employees to sign a faith statement including a belief in creationism and the flood.
State officials and Ark Encounter lawyers have exchanged letters in which the state threatened not to proceed with tax incentives for the park if there was discriminatory hiring practices, a state official confirmed on Wednesday.
The letters between the parties came to light after the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader obtained them through open records requests.“We’re hoping the state takes a hard look at their position, and changes their position so it doesn’t go further than this,” Ark Encounter’s Executive President Mike Zovath told Reuters.
Zovath, who is also co-founder of Answers in Genesis, said that if tax incentives for the project are withdrawn because it does not give written assurances the state now seeks, it would violate the organization’s First Amendment and state constitutional rights.
No, it doesn’t. Discrimination on the basis of religion has been federal law for 50 years now and the courts have consistently upheld it. Churches and some other religious organizations are exempted from that law, but for-profit companies are not. And hey, didn’t they first claim that they weren’t discriminating at all at the ark park, that the ad they put up for jobs at the park was really for Answers in Genesis, which is exempted from anti-discrimination law because it’s a non-profit? They can’t seem to keep their stories straight.