Ken Ham’s Tax Litigation Coming Soon

Imagine what it’s like living in northern Kentucky. What’s there? Well, the place might have seemed rather dull in the past, but that was before the arrival of 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.

Imagine what that means to the people of Williamstown. Wikipedia says the place has a population of 3,227 according to the 2000 census. Hambo’s museum is near Petersburg, in an adjacent county, but it’s close enough to be a source of regional pride. And Hambo’s Ark Encounter is scheduled to be built in the same county as Williamstown. What could be finer? One day you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the next day you’re in the center of the universe!

The good folks of Williamstown are so thrilled about ol’ Hambo and his creationist empire that their town sponsored the sale of municipal bonds to help finance his expansion — see Ken Ham’s “Ark Encounter” Bonds. Hambo is the most famous Kentuckian since Daniel Boone!

With that as background, we can better appreciate what we found at the website of television WAVE 3, located in nearby Louisville. That’s 70 miles from Williamstown, which is too small to have its own TV station. Ignoring Cincinnati, which is in a neighboring state, WAVE 3 is probably the closest Kentucky TV station to Hambo’s base of operations. Their headline is Ark Encounter plans to sue Kentucky over tax incentives. There’s a comments section at the end. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

It promises to soar seven stories into the air, attracting visitors from all over the country – maybe the world – to Kentucky. The Ark Encounter, now under construction in tiny Williamstown in Grant County, has attracted as much attention as it eventually hopes to attract visitors both for its scope and its tussle with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but few people have seen the park for themselves. WAVE 3 News got a tour of construction of the park.

Wowie — the whole world will be going to northern Kentucky to see Hambo’s Ark. And the TV station was given a tour! We can sense their excitement in the story that follows:

Lawyers say this encounter is about to make an appearance in court and it’s all over tax incentives. The lawyer for the Ark Encounter says it will sue the state in federal court to try to regain the rebates it believes the state should give it for building the biblical attraction.

We’re written about that a few times before — see Ken Ham’s Ark Park Loses Tax Incentives. Let’s read on:

[Mike] Johnson is an attorney for Freedom Guard, which is representing the Ark Encounter and its parent company, Answers in Genesis. Johnson is the only person the groups will let speak on camera about the ark. “It’s a life-sized recreation of Noah’s Ark,” Johnson said. “They’ve taken the measurements from the biblical accounts and what biblical scholars say how it would be measured, a massive structure.”

So while we had a guided tour of construction that lasted a couple hours, looking at all the clearing, plumbing and electrical work and that’s been done, Johnson talked to us the next day about what we saw. “They had to move over a million cubic tons, I think it was, of dirt,” said Johnson.

Plumbing and electrical work? Hey — that sounds authentic. And who cares if they moved a million tons or a billion tons — what’s the difference? The thing is going to be an honest-to-God replica of the original! We continue:

The reason for the caution [presumably in having only one spokesman]: Johnson said Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis will file suit against Kentucky in federal court in February, challenging the state’s decision to yank incentives for the sales tax and income tax the ark project generates. “We feel the state has overstepped its bounds in terms of the constitution in state and federal law,” said Johnson, “and we’re planning now to proceed to the court to get that straightened out.”

They’ll sue in February? That’s only one day away. Isn’t this thrilling? Here’s more:

[T]he state pulled incentives over concern the ark would refuse to hire some people based on their religion and the tax incentives would be used to advance religion. The ark’s lawyers responded that it is clear they are a religious organization and the state’s conditions for getting tax rebates for the ark violate religious freedom.

This is going to be a great lawsuit. Here’s one last excerpt:

With or without the incentives, the park is supposed to open sometime in 2016.

It’s not just northern Kentucky — the whole world is eagerly waiting for Hambo’s ark. And Hambo is eagerly waiting for his tax rebates. And we’re eagerly waiting for the lawsuit. It won’t be long now.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Ken Ham’s Tax Litigation Coming Soon

  1. So much for the ol’, “If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” Just because Jesus and Paul were disgusted by lawsuits doesn’t mean his followers have to be.

  2. If he really has faith in scriptural inerrancy, Ham ought to be building this in a shipyard and inviting the world to watch it launch down the slipway. He is following the dimensions given in Genesis, he says–what could go wrong?

  3. I totally cracked up when their lawyer said “million cubic tons.”

    Cubic tons?

    Just words falling out of that good old boy’s mouth.

    Hopefully, their lawsuit is doomed but they may have been heartened by the Hobby Lobby decision. What they are asking is for Ark Encounters, LLC, a for-profit company to be allowed to practice hiring discrimination based on religious affiliation. Imagine the precedent that would set. I guess if a corporation is a person then a corporation is a religion, unless it decides otherwise. Very strange and this one will be worthing watching closely.

  4. Stephen Kennedy

    Hambo could be in for a nasty surprise if this case goes to the Supreme Court. Of the nine U.S Supreme Court justices, two are Jewish and seven are Roman Catholics meaning that they would be excluded from consideration for employment at the ark park if they ever applied for a job there. It is hard to imagine that they would be sympathetic to AIG.

  5. docbill1351 says:

    I totally cracked up when their lawyer said “million cubic tons.”

    You’ve embarrassed me. I completely missed that.

  6. Ham should read his Bible more carefully. He’s mot building an ark; he’s building a Tower of Williamstown. God may respond by reducing him and his visitors to babbling nonsense, not that they aren’t already.

  7. docbill1351 says:”Hopefully, their lawsuit is doomed but they may have been heartened by the Hobby Lobby decision.”

    The Hobby Lobby case isn’t much of a precedent for them. It merely says that a privately held (i.e., non-public) corporation can’t be forced to buy insurance coverage for something their owners are opposed to on religious grounds. Hambo’s case is very different. Yes, it’s vaguely similar because the ark would be operated by a corporation whose owners have religious views, but that’s where the similarity ends.

    Hambo’s case involves a religious organization (Ark Encounter, or whatever it’s called) that only hires people with religious views like Hambo’s. That’s fine. He can do that. But he also wants to receive government funds. It’s true that the funds would be a portion of the sales taxes collected at the ark park, but it’s a government disbursement nevertheless. That’s nothing like the Hobby Lobby case.

  8. I disagree with Hobby Lobby not being a precedent. Federal judge David Sam ruled the US Department of Labor could not take the deposition of an FLDS man in a child labor case back in September. Meanwhile, just over the border here in Arizona, a federal judge ruled early in January that yes, the Department of Justice could take depositions of the town’s leaders, religion or no. An appeal to the 9th circuit was turned back on technical grounds.

    So Hobby Lobby is being used for incredibly crazy crap.

  9. One million cubic tons = 8,000,000,000 cubic pounds.

    One square minute = 3,600 square seconds.

  10. 1 cubic pound =
    0.093324833 kg3 🙂

  11. Since Ham believes god approves of his works, why does he need tax incentives? Prayer should do the trick

  12. The bottom line is that Ham is suing because he believes the state is denying his religious freedom to deny religious freedom to others. Of course, that’s the Ham we know. His credo is apparently “Do unto others.” That’s it.

    Ham also is apparently of the opinion that if he asks for a tax break, the state is obligated to give it to him. His application could have been denied for a wide variety of reasons, such as finding that he falsely submitted wildly exaggerated attendance estimates, concerns over the environmental impact and traffic congestion in the area around the park, or because of concerns about the effect it will have on the state’s reputation. As far as I know, simply applying for a government handout is no guarantee that one will receive it.

    In fact, the state could also cancel plans to build or improve the highway exit and the access road to the site (if they have not already built it) – they are under no obligation to do those things.

    I like to imagine Ham’s reaction if the state agreed to support an Islamic themed park, depicting scenes from the life of Mohammed, and various aspects of Islamic culture.

    Or even, as a completely non-religious example, a Harry Potter theme park. That would be a genuinely successful enterprise if it had good rides and other attractions, and it would be all about witchcraft, with shops selling wands, crystal balls, pointy hats and the rest of it. Ham would be outraged. One can only dream.

  13. Perhaps he meant to say a “million cubit tons.”

  14. Diogenes Lamp

    Suggestion: from now on we use “million cubic ton” as a unit to measure the size of the BS pushed by Asses Ingenuous.

  15. Oh I get it the Ark is being built in hyperspace.

  16. The biggest lie AIG pushes is the lie about “millions of cubic tons.” They’ve moved no more than 6,000 to 10,000 cubic tons.

    That said, I may end up visiting the park, once I figure out how many nautical gallons the drive is from my house.

  17. And it took 10,000 square man/hours to move all that dirt.

    Ed: “In fact, the state could also cancel plans to build or improve the highway exit and the access road to the site (if they have not already built it) – they are under no obligation to do those things.”

    The satellite imagery on Google Maps shows that at least some “cubic tons” of dirt have been moved, but no new interchange on I-75. I would be very surprised if the state builds a new interchange. There’s already one nearby.

    (To find the site, I entered “Ark Encounter, KY” in Google Maps on an iPad app. The site is a bit southwest of Williamstown, west of I-75. There’s a much larger patch of bare earth SE of Williamstown, but that’s a landfill.)

  18. Would it be gauche to suggest that Kanny Humbug, ably assisted by his lawyer, has cooked up a ruse to raise more cash? If not for the project then for the litigation.

    This could be hilarious if the case is dismissed with costs.

  19. Just did the same thing on Google Earth on a laptop; the imagery date is 9/22/2014.

  20. Con-Tester says: “Would it be gauche to suggest that Kanny Humbug, ably assisted by his lawyer, has cooked up a ruse to raise more cash?”

    My guess is that it’ll be a great excuse if he defaults on the bonds. He can blame it on the state — and the devil, of course. Never mind that he could have the sales tax rebate if he agrees that he’ll hire anyone — provided only that they can do the job and will agree not to criticize the operation. He could easily do that, but it’s doubtful that he will.

  21. @retiredsciguy: Thanks for the google maps tip.

    They have certainly created a scar on the landscape. One thing is obvious – the ark will not be seen from the highway. Google maps has “street view” on the highway, and it is impossible to see much of anything due to the highway embankments and rolling terrain.

    Bing maps shows an older image of the area before the dirt was removed, and its “Bird’s Eye” view clearly shows bulldozers parked alongside the road into the area. It must have been taken just before work began.

    Apple maps shows the area sometime after Bing and before Google. What appears to be a parking lot has been created, but nothing else. The heavy earthmoving must have happened in the past few months.

  22. You mention rolling terrain. I wonder whether there are any prominent hills – I know that there are not any striking mountains (“ultras”) – which might cause the visitor to wonder about a flood that big, and how small the Ark surviving among such mountains.

  23. @TomS: You ask about the terrain. I’ve driven through that section of northern Kentucky many times. It’s all incised plains — ridge tops between drainage valleys. You don’t get into genuine hills until you’re farther south or east in Kentucky.

    As for seeing the ark from the highway (I-75), it depends on how high Ken Ham builds the thing. One might be able to catch a glimpse, but it would be some distance from the interstate. You’d have to know right where to look, and right when to look as you’re moving along at 70 miles per cubic hour.