The state of Kentucky pulled millions of dollars in tax incentives it had initially approved for Ken Ham’s tribute to mass genocide, a Noah’s Ark theme park, because the for-profit company that owns the project was planning to discriminate on the basis of religion in its hiring. Now Ham is suing, claiming a violation of his religious freedom.
Answers in Genesis (AiG), developer of the Ark Encounter theme park in Northern Kentucky, confirmed today it is filing a federal lawsuit against state officials for denying the park participation in the state’s tax rebate incentive program. Although the program is available to all qualifying tourist attractions seeking to build in the state, AiG’s application was rejected solely because of the religious identity and message of AiG. The lawsuit explains how this action by Kentucky officials, including Gov. Steve Beshear, violates federal and state law and amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.
“Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary,” said AiG President Ken Ham. “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.”
Oh sweet irony. His company refuses to hire non-Christians, thus engaging in illegal discrimination, but if the government doesn’t give them millions of dollars in tax exemptions despite their illegal actions, the government is treating them like second-class citizens. But the fact is that Ham’s group can’t engage in such discrimination even if they don’t get those tax breaks. It is illegal for a private company to discriminate on the basis of religion, period. So why didn’t they just put the project under the auspices of the AIG “ministry”? Probably because they wouldn’t have qualified for those tax credits if they had.
They want to have it both ways, they want to be a for-profit company that is eligible for tax credits but they don’t want to follow the same rules that apply to every other for-profit company in the state (and the country, for that matter; religious discrimination is illegal under federal law as well).
And let’s not forget that Ham directly lied about all of this. When it was first revealed that they had put up an ad seeking employees for the ark park that required that they sign a statement of faith, his first reaction was to claim that the ad wasn’t for the ark park, it was for AIG. That was a lie.