The Kentucky Secular Society has sent a formal letter to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin urging his office to deny Answers in Genesis’ Ark Encounter application for the tourism tax credit.
The letter lists five major reasons why the project should be denied:
1) This action would violate section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution and the first amendment of the United States Constitution.
2) Answers in Genesis, Crosswater Canyon, and Ark Encounter have been created for the purpose of three corporations acting as one corporation that is both a for-profit and non-profit corporation. The legality of their arrangements must be investigated.
3) Ark Encounter was dishonest in its 2014 Application for tax incentives and in correspondence with the Tourism Cabinet.
4) Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis have discriminated and will continue to discriminate in employment against anyone who is not a young-earth fundamentalist protestant Christian, including any old-earth creationist Christian.
5) Ark Encounter promotes views on race that are scientifically inaccurate.
One of the biggest claims made in this list is number two. This is something Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has discussed with me in the past and something that the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the IRS about.
The letter goes into further detail on this issue:
Crosswater Canyon is a non-profit ministry owned by the non-profit ministry Answers in Genesis. Crosswater Canyon operates the for-profit Creation Museum LLC and will operate the for-profit Ark Encounter. Tax deductible donations are being collected through Answers in Genesis to construct the Ark, because it is being claimed that the ark is an educational tool. The land surrounding the ark, however, is part of Ark Encounter, a for-profit corporation. Tax-deductible donations are being given to construct an object in the center of a for-profit company. The Commonwealth of Kentucky needs to examine the legality of this arrangement. A for-profit company such as UPS is not permitted to solicit tax-deductible donations in order to build a new facility. Ark Encounter could not legally solicit tax-deductible donations for its park. The arrangement of the Ark Encounter – Answers in Genesis – Crosswater Canyon relationship needs to be examined thoroughly before Kentucky becomes a business partner with them.
As the letter states, UPS could not form a non-profit to benefit the company itself. They can form a non-profit that handles a social need or social justice issue, but they cannot build a new UPS facility or buy more UPS trucks with those donations, but this is exactly what AiG is doing. They are collecting millions of dollars and funneling it to the Ark Encounter.
Point number five in the letter is actually very interesting as well. They dissect the issue of race that is addressed in the theme park.
The park’s narrative attempts to make what would have been Middle-Eastern men and women as white as possible and then tries to explain their eye and hair color in a non-scientific way.
The letter states clearly:
Modern genetics contradicts the ideas presented by Ark Encounter. First and foremost, human genetic diversity is not due to a group of 6 people from 4000 years ago. But even if there were such a group of people, it would be unscientific to speculate what their skin, hair, and eye color might be based upon modern descendants. Genetic affinity and diversity is a better indicator of relationships than skin, hair, eye color, and geographic boundaries.
And then concludes:
If you have questions about modern genetics and how it contradicts the ideas of Ark Encounter, I recommend you contact scientists from one or more of our fine state universities. It is possible that Kentucky would be criticized once the presentations of Ark Encounter on the inhabitants of the ark is made more public.
I am happy to see these local activists have not given up on their fight to end this discrimination.
Photo credit: Ark Encounter