Ken Ham’s Ark May Be Sinking

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

One of our clandestine operatives has given us some breaking news. He’s been working full time investigating the Ark Encounter project planned by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Our operative has been sending us megabytes of information, but it’s all been hush-hush until now, when we were informed of this article in the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is: Ark Park hiring issue jeopardizes tax incentives. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Tax incentives for the Noah’s Ark theme park in Northern Kentucky are in jeopardy over the state’s concern about possible religious discrimination in hiring, records obtained by The Courier-Journal show.

What tax incentives? We wrote about their preliminary approval several weeks ago: Joy to the World — The Ark Is Approved, where we quoted a news article that said:

A state tourism board gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for up to $18 million in tax rebates for a proposed full-sized replica of the massive ark as described in the book of Genesis. … If the rebates are approved, the project’s owners – Crosswater canyon, a nonprofit subsidiary of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry – would receive up to 25 percent of the $73 million anticipated cost of the project. The owners would get that money over 10 years only after the ark is built and open to the public.

But now that pot of gold may not materialize. According to the Courier-Journal:

“The Commonwealth doesn’t believe that Ark Encounter, LLC will be complying with state and Federal law in its hiring practices,” Bob Stewart, secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said in an Aug. 27 letter to an Ark Encounter attorney. Stewart wrote that “serious concerns” were raised by a job posting for an Ark Encounter position that required applicants to provide salvation testimony, a creation belief statement, and agreement with the “Statement of Faith” of Ark Encounter’s parent organization, Answers in Genesis.

Wow — “serious concerns.” The state officials appear to be waking up. Let’s read on:

Therefore, we are not prepared to move forward with consideration of the application for final approval without the assurance of Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring,” Stewart wrote.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What’s ol’ Hambo gonna do now? Don’t worry, dear reader, Hambo’s been aware of this. He’s battled the Devil before, and he’s not giving up. The news story continues:

James Parsons, a Covington attorney representing Ark Encounter, responded to Stewart saying that the job posting that triggered Stewart’s concern was not for Ark Encounter, but Answers in Genesis.

Oh — it’s only the parent company that practices religious discrimination. Not the Ark attraction itself. That’s being kept pure. Here’s more:

Parsons wrote that Ark Encounter stands by its longstanding commitment to “comply with all applicable federal and state laws” on hiring and said that Stewart was adding a new requirement to Ark Encounter’s application for tax incentives.

Oh yeah — Ark Encounter is eager to hire Darwinists and other abominable wretches. Sure. They’ll be all over the place, scoffing at the whole thing while they collect admission fees from Hambo’s drooling customers. Right! Is the state impressed? Not exactly. We’re then told:

Not so, Stewart replied Sept. 4. “The Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC…” Stewart wrote. “The Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring.”

That was the most recent written communication between Stewart and Parsons, said Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The correspondence between Stewart and Parsons was obtained by an Open Records Act request made by The Courier-Journal.

That was a month ago. Ol’ Hambo must be really squirming. What’s been happening since then? The news story quotes Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis and executive director of Ark Encounter:

We’re still in the negotiation with the state, saying why are you requiring us to do something you don’t require other applicants to do? And why are you requiring us to give up our religious freedom and our religious rights to comply with an additional requirement that isn’t in the state Tourism Act?” Zovath said.

There’s much more in the news story, but that’s the guts of it. It looks to us as if Hambo’s project is in trouble. He might be able to work it out and get the tax incentives, but then again, he might not. We’ll keep you informed, dear reader, so stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Ken Ham’s Ark May Be Sinking

  1. why are you requiring us to give up our religious freedom

    Doesn’t that sound like their religious freedom consists, in part, of the ability to restrict others’ religious freedom?

  2. > “It looks to us as if Hambo’s project is in trouble.”
    —————
    Yippee!!

  3. I love it when fundies pull the double-reverse-persecution-complex gag.

    “Wha do you mean we can’t discriminate against Catholics, Atheists, Jews Muslims, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with everything we say?” It’s intolerant, it’s discrimination, and we’re being PERSECUTED!!!! [Ed. Note: Caps Lock in the original.]

  4. Doctor Stochastic

    How many of each kind of teredo worms will be exhibited?

  5. Don’t sell Hambo short, and don’t overestimate the intelligence or integrity of the Commonwealth officials. Hambo has bamboozled them from the governor on down, and they are as determined as Hambo to get this pretend boat project launched. I predict that they’ll figure out a way for AiG to get the tax incentives, and that, unfortunately, the silly thing will indeed be built. I hope I’m wrong, but the history of AiG is that in the end, they manage to get what they want.

  6. I’m a little surprised that the tourism board secretary has decided to take this seriously. That’s good news. Maybe the persistent effort by rational Kentuckians to point these things out has made the difference.

  7. In order to add authenticity to this massive wooden ark, I would be willing to pay for the installation of a colony of termites. May they go forth and multiply.

  8. Not a problem for Hambo. Rather than exclude the non-faithful overtly it will be now done with a nod and a wink.

  9. Troy commented:
    “Not a problem for Hambo. Rather than exclude the non-faithful overtly it will be now done with a nod and a wink.”

    Hambo will never agree to allow anyone to be employed at AiG, including the ark park without the salvation testimony and statement of faith and I am sure he probably thinks that he can give something to the Commonwealth of Kentucky that will get him his tax subsidies but still allow him to discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring with a wink and a nod.

    However, times have changed and Hambo may not have completely thought this thing through. I doubt that there are any Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Deists or Atheists who would want to work in a nut house like AiG but they will not stand for AiG having the power to exclude them. As soon as there is solid evidence that the ark park is practicing religious discrimination in hiring there will be lawsuits. The $18 million in tax subsidies will be a pittance compared to the amount that AiG will be compelled to pay in damages when they are found guilty.

  10. Ham won’t have to require a sworn statement of religious faith. He just won’t hire anyone who doesn’t have his or her Baptist minister’s ok.

    Furthermore, he’ll spin this into a fundraising advantage — I can see his pitch now: “Because the Commonwealth of Kentucky is reneging on its promise of tax abatements, the Ark Encounter needs your help now more than ever, blah, blah, blah… Godless bureaucrats, blah blah, blah…. the atheists are crowing, blah, blah, and double-blah….”

    Well, you know the narrative.

  11. RSG that’s a very good point. Officially hiring will be open, but during the vetting process for employees they just have to cross reference people in fundie congregational rosters, then speak to the minister. The unfaithful will just think there was a better candidate and they’ll move on. (Another possible method is just put the word on the street that one of your “references” should be your pastor.)

  12. Nothing sanitizes like light. It could be that old Bob Stewart is feeling the heat from publicity and public discussion calling the Tourism board a bunch of idiots for letting this obvious violation of church and state to continue.

    Note that old Hambo is not being sneaky about all this, to the contrary, all the shell companies have been out there in the open (well, the ones we know about!) and it’s the State of Kentucky that’s been the real idiot here.

    Well, duh, old Hambo wants his vegetarian T-Rex and pineapples, too! I don’t know why he just signs the paper, old man, and let Ark Encounter hire witches and warlocks while keeping AIG pure and holy. After all, it’s the deal he made with the devil State of Kentucky.

  13. Charles Deetz .;)

    I think the reference to religious freedom was a direct appeal to the Hobby Lobby ruling’s standards. It is a dangerous thing in the hands of a religious nut. Meanwhile the shell game of businesses and ministries becomes exposed to Kentucky.

  14. Kanny Humbug and his cretinist cohorts’ notion that they can dictate unconstitutional employment terms and still expect to qualify for tax concessions reveals some notable chutzpah. It’s almost as if they’re living in a fluffy fantasy world. 😉

  15. Charles Deetz says:

    I think the reference to religious freedom was a direct appeal to the Hobby Lobby ruling’s standards. It is a dangerous thing in the hands of a religious nut.

    And Antonin Scalia has recently said that it’s “utterly absurd” to think that anything in the Constitution (separation of church and state) means that “the government cannot favor religion over non-religion.” Put Hobby Lobby and Scalia’s statement together, and you can see a trend toward allowing “religious freedom” to be a basis for state-sponsored religious discrimination. It was much simpler, and worked much better, when the idea was that you can be a business and pay taxes, or you can be a church and not pay taxes, but you can’t be both.

  16. There’s a money trail here somewhere. There always is, from the Texas Governor’s private $22 million slush fund that he can “grant” to his supporters without any accountability, to gifts and favors that stroke the egos of rich patrons.

    In Kentucky what does it take, a bottle of Jack? Who knows.

    I suspect the Tourism board was under a lot of pressure to CREATE JOBS – JOBBAJOBBAJOBBAJOBBA!!! ALL JOBBA ALL THE TIME!! and I suspect there were some veiled threats (my imagination working in overdrive) to put up or shut up. It could go all the way to the Governor who was under increasing pressure to create jobs, any job, anywhere, even if it meant doling out a few bucks to old Hambo.

    “Just make it look good, boys, and, remember, I was never here.”

    Kentucky politics at its best. Now, who’s got my Jack?

  17. Turing – right on. Scalia was recently in Boulder repeating his perspective that the government can favor religion over non-religion. I remain boggled that purported brilliant people can support such blindered positions.

  18. In other news from Boulder, wait until Ham gets a load of this – NASA awards CU $7 million to study “rock-powered life” – something creationists scoff at as being impossible.
    http://www.dailycamera.com/cu-news/ci_26677078/cu-boulder-lands-7-million-grant-probe-life

  19. “The Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of…”

    However, the Commonwealth will provide tax incentives to an organization that exists solely for the purpose of spreading misleading information concerning natural history as long as they appear to practice non-discriminatory hiring.

    The state should not provide assistance in any form to organizations that spread what amount to be bold faced lies, regardless of the religious or political affiliation.

  20. The Americans United piece states that AIG is hiring a designer for the Ark Park. Wouldn’t this mean they couldn’t use the money they raised from the Ark Bonds to pay this person? Weren’t the bonds raised by their shell company? Could the shell company hire AIG as a subcontractor and try to skirt the labor laws?

  21. Hambo got trounced in the comments. One crazy supporter and one person claiming the article was full of lies. The remaining 26 comments firmly against Hambo and the Tourist Board.

  22. I think that Attorney Parsons is not being 100% truthful when he says the job posting was not for the Ark. I saw a screenshot of the posting at sciencestandards.blogspot.com, and it is headed “CAD Technician Designer, Ark Encounter.” It goes on to say, “Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry.” So the Commonwealth of Kentucky gives tax breaks to ministers? Who knew?

  23. BioRd writes> “The Americans United piece states that AIG is hiring a designer for the Ark Park.”

    What do they need to hire a designer for? Don’t they already have one??

  24. TA: “What do they need to hire a designer for? Don’t they already have one??”

    Well, yes, but they must be looking for a more intelligent designer. Besides, they can’t get their current designer to sign a declaration of faith.

    (Thanks for the great set-up, TA.)

  25. To which the only proper response is {clicky}.
    You are most welcome. 🙂

  26. What the … you guys … quit poking around with my genes … Hey! THAT TICKLES!!