On February 3rd, Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers In Genesis, posted an announcement on Youtube, click here. The Christian ministry is suing the State of Kentucky for $18 million in state sales tax rebates because the state found his theme park, Ark Encounter (currently under construction), not eligible for the tax incentive due its discriminatory hiring policies against non-Christians. Ark Encounter is a for-profit Creationist park which features a Noah's Ark that is three stories high and two football fields long.
~ Ken Ham thinks discrimination is a right if you're religious.
We reported on Ark Encounter in February of 2012: "Tax-Break For Kentucky Creationist Park," click here. In that article, we reported that the Christian theme park was approved for a $43 million sales tax rebate for a $173 million project that was supposed to provide Kentucky with many jobs. Now, the project has shrunk to $78 million with a potential tax break of $18 million – if the park doesn't violate any rules.
The article also talks about Ken Ham's Creation Museum in Kentucky, which spreads misinformation such as dinosaurs being alive 6,000 years ago. And like the museum, it's likely this new theme park will teach children that Noah's Ark carried all the species of animals in the world, including dinosaurs! There are approximately 1.26 million species of land animals TODAY, which means there was supposedly well over 2 1/2 million animals on Noah's Ark, including dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, and other extinct creatures. Then there is the issue of fresh-water fish species – Noah must have built a freshwater aquarium in the hull! What a pathetic mess of lies.
One might ask, if the theme park promotes religious ideas such as Creationism, why should Ark Encounter be eligible for any rebates regardless of its hiring policies?
Many for-profit theme parks do promote religious or pagan ideas whether we are aware of them or not. One example is the Harry Potter attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, click here. Witchcraft and other pagan ideas are a form of mysticism that many people believe in much the same way other people believe in religion. If the resort were in Kentucky, the studio would likely have gotten the rebate. And if 20th Century Fox wanted to incorporate video game attractions into a theme park that included it's recent movie, Exodus (about Moses and the Ten Commandments), it would also likely be eligible for a tax break in Kentucky and other states with similar tax schemes.
~ Studios make religious films that could be used in theme parks.
So, to create a theme park about Noah's Ark is not that much of a stretch. The controversy lies with Noah's Ark being tied to the current political debate between the Theory of Evolution and Creationism (also referred to as Intelligent Design). Sadly, this debate is still going strong in the United States; see our previous article, "Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham," click here.
And as long as the park employees do not claim that their message is a part of the state educational system or curriculum, the First Amendment does protect whatever nonsense that they might be spewing to the public, and the tax rebate cannot easily be revoked. Ken Ham could argue that if kids are exposed to witches and demons at other theme parks that have received government benefits, then Ark Encounter surely should not be penalized for promoting Bible stories.
~ Gov't incentives can't be used for religious discrimination.
However, the issue of discrimination is a wholly different matter. According to Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky's tourism secretary, the granting of tax incentives is all tied to job creation. And it makes no sense to allow Ark Encounter to discriminate against Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and atheists (which might include gays, lesbians, and transexuals) when everybody in the state pays taxes, including the aforementioned. The Frog Blog believes Ken Ham's lawsuit will be defeated. The tax rebate is a privilege and is not a right. Ken Ham's claim that it is his organization that is the victim of discrimination – for not being allowed to discriminate – is ludicrous.
Society must be vigilant in regard to cunning people like Ken Ham who are trying to fill children's heads with rubbish. And they do succeed through clever methods that attempt to circumvent the Constitution (such as with school vouchers and home schooling). And as we have explained above, Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum have already succeeded in this regard.
~ Politico: "Taxpayers Fund Creationism In The Classroom."
Since we've brought up the issue of tuition vouchers, let us also mention that according to Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that for a voucher program to be constitutional, it must meet all of the following criteria:
However, the teaching of Creationism in a private school funded by pubic money via vouchers is legally viable even with all the criteria above. But the teaching of Creationism or Intelligent design in public schools is prohibited. Therefore, vouchers are a legal loophole that makes education inconsistent in the United States in regard to public funds. So, it is vitally important that citizens oppose voucher programs at the state level.
~ Vouchers: a legal loophole for Creationism. (Taped in 2002.)
Just because vouchers are constitutional in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, that does not mean a state is obligated to allow them – it is after all the taxpayer's money. But if a state wants vouchers and they do not violate the state's own constitution, the 2002 ruling will support its position, as long as the state meets the U.S. Supreme Court's criteria. Sadly, more and more states are now allowing vouchers. Also, read our earlier article, "Teaching Creationism Is Child Abuse," click here.
[Map Of Publicly-Funded Schools That Are Allowed To Teach Creationism, click here]
For related articles in the Frog Blog:
- World's 1st Atheist TV Channel Launches Click here.
- Unvaccinated Kids Banned In NYC Schools Click here.
- Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham Click here.
- Far East Tops O.E.C.D. Education Rankings Click here.
- "Cyrus Prostituted Herself": Creationist Click here.
- Film: The Unbelievers Attacks Religion! Click here.
- Teaching Creationism Is Child Abuse Click here.
- GOP Rep. Calls Evolution & Big Bang Lies Click here.
- The 2nd "Scopes Monkey Trial" Is Coming! Click here.
- Tax-Break For Kentucky Creationist Park Click here.
- Bachmann Wants Creationism In Schools Click here.
- Doomsday Prophets Are Idiots! Click here.
- "Evolution A Myth": Christine O’Donnell Click here.
- Creation Vs. Evolution: Darwin Defamed! Click here.