A few days ago we wrote Ken Ham’s Ark May Be Sinking. Kentucky’s state tourism board says it isn’t going to approve sales tax rebates for Hambo’s organization because Answers in Genesis (AIG) practices religious discrimination in its hiring.
I’m sure many of you have read one or more recent news reports that present various, often confusing theories about the Kentucky tourism tax refund program that the Ark Encounter has applied for. [Sample headlines.] Numerous other news stories have been published across the nation, and atheist bloggers have become giddy with excitement about the rumor that the construction of the Ark project may somehow be in jeopardy!
Okay, Hambo, tell us your side. He does:
Well, it seems the origin of the controversy can be traced to the paranoia of the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). This vehemently anti-Christian, anti-creationist group seems to be obsessed with trying to stop Answers in Genesis from exercising its rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion because of the biblical message we proclaim.
Ah, it’s the anti-God people who are to blame. Let’s read on:
Can you imagine AU [Americans United], for example, being forced to employ someone who doesn’t believe in its interpretation of the so-called “separation of church and state”? Or can you imagine the American Atheists being compelled to employ a CEO who is a Bible-believing creationist like me? Of course not! Those groups are very selective in their hiring practices — and have the freedom to do so under federal and state laws.
Perhaps they are selective (we don’t know), but that “so-called” separation of church and state is no joke, and those outfits opposing Hambo aren’t applying for tax kickbacks, while AIG’s Ark Encounter project is. Hambo continues:
When AU recently saw a job opening listed on the AiG website for a specialist to work on the Ark Encounter project, they went ballistic. What was their complaint? The atheists were beside themselves that the AiG job posting listed Christian belief as a qualification for the job. It didn’t seem to matter a bit to the AU critics that their hypocrisy was so glaring, or that federal and state statues specifically authorize religious organizations to hire people who agree with their religious points of view.
The Ark Encounter has confirmed over and over to the state and media that it will carefully adhere to all applicable federal and state laws in hiring. And we certainly hope and expect that for its part, state officials will follow the law as well. Part of that obligation is to respect the clearly established rights of our religious organization.
That doesn’t seem possible, because AIG does carefully control the religious beliefs of its employees. According to the Prospectus for the issuance of Ark Encounter bonds (which we have seen but we can’t find an online copy), AIG will be intimately involved in the ownership of Ark Encounter, and AIG personnel will be part of the management. It was part of the sales pitch that Ark Encounter would have experienced management.
Addendum: We found: the prospectus online. It’s a huge pdf file. Page 29 describes the management:
The management team of the Project will be headed up by Michael Zovath, a co-founder of Answers in Genesis and Executive Director of Crosswater Canyon. Mr. Zovath, Patrick Marsh, Senior Director of Design, and the Answers in Genesis team of design professionals who directed the design, construction and early operation of the Creation Museum will, in conjunction with Destination Concepts and Development, produce the Ark Encounter based on the literal biblical account of Noah’s Ark, the Genesis Flood, and other historic biblical accounts from Scripture. Answers in Genesis has successfully operated the Creation Museum for several years and will assist in the management and operation of the Ark Encounter Project.
Addendum continues: That same information is in Appendix A on page 110 of the pdf file (page 56 of the prospectus). which also says:
AiG, the sole member of Crosswater Canyon [which is issuing the bonds and probably owns Ark Encounter], is the owner and operator of the Creation Museum, located in northern Kentucky, off Interstate 275, near Cincinnati, Ohio. Answers in Genesis is an internationally known apologetics ministry dedicated to upholding the authority of the Bible from the very first verse, and to equipping Christians to defend their Christian faith by trusting in God’s Word, the Bible, as the foundation of their faith. … As owner and operator of the Creation Museum, AiG and its executive management team have acquired significant experience that will be applied to the planning and development of the Ark Encounter project. … The board of directors and executive officers of Crosswater Canyon are appointed by AiG, the sole member of Crosswater Canyon.
That ends the Addendum. Here’s more from Hambo, the non-discriminator:
The funny thing about all of this hubbub is that there really is no story here at all. You see, the Ark Encounter has not yet even considered hiring anyone, or even drafted its hiring policies or employee handbooks. The Ark Encounter is currently under construction, and no doubt will begin employing people once construction gets to a certain stage.
If the entity that will technically own the ark project currently has no employees, that means everyone now supervising the thing is an AIG employee, and Hambo imposes a strict religious test for all of them. Moving along:
It’s really amazing (though not surprising) to see the lengths the opposition will go to as they try to denigrate a project because it has a Christian message in the hope of bringing the project down.
Well, that ol’ Devil is always active. But Hambo ends on an optimistic note:
Ultimately, AU and groups like them want freedom from Christianity, not freedom of religion! Thankfully, under our Constitution, such oppressive ideas will never float.
We don’t know how the controversy surrounding Hambo’s tax deal will eventually work out, but we do know of one thing that definitely will never float — even if it does get built — and that’s ol’ Hambo’s ark. In that sense it will indeed be an exact replica of Noah’s original, which never existed.
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