Ken Ham and George Washington

Our title alone makes this post worthwhile. Washington is probably the least likely person to be paired with Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. We could have a new Creative Challenge to see if you can come up with a more improbable couple.

Nevertheless, our title is appropriate for discussing the latest essay by ol’ Hambo, which appears at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), ol’ Hambo’s creationist ministry, famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Hambo’s post is Religious Freedom Challenged—What Would George Washington Say? As you know, AIG is planning to build their Ark Encounter project in Kentucky, and their application to receive potentially millions of dollars in sales tax rebates has been denied. That was because the state had concerns about the evangelical mission of AiG and the Ark project, and that “Providing tax incentives that would further any such overt evangelism amounts to impermissible state funding of religious indoctrination.” So AIG is suing the state for denying them their “right” to receive a chunk of the state’s tax revenues. We discussed that here: AIG’s Complaint Against Kentucky.

You’ve got to be wondering: Where does George Washington fit into Hambo’s bid to receive tax money from the state? The quick answer is that he doesn’t, but ol’ Hambo thinks otherwise. Here are some excerpts from his essay, with bold font added by us:

Washington presided over the convention that drafted the US Constitution, and the name given to the first ten amendments was the Bill of Rights. These ten amendments guaranteed a number of personal freedoms.

Washington was President when Congress proposed a Bill of Rights, consisting of 12 Amendments to the Constitution (the first two weren’t ratified by the states). They were mostly drafted by James Madison. You can read the original document here: Bill of Rights. We’re not certain whether Washington actually signed the document, but he wasn’t opposed to it.

Okay, back to Hambo. He quotes the language of the First Amendment (which had originally been number three), and he says:

Note that the First Amendment is not just guaranteeing freedom of religion but also “the free exercise thereof.”

Yes, we know. And Hambo is certainly free to exercise that right, albeit without the “right” to receive millions in tax rebates from the state. Let’s read on:

Today, however, we’re seeing an increasing number of instances where the free exercise of religion is being restricted (particularly toward Christianity). The secularists who disagree with Christianity do have the free exercise of their own religion/worldview, but Christians increasingly are being restricted in their free exercise. It’s a part of the secularists’ growing intolerance of those who disagree with their worldview.

This is the same issue we’ve discussed before. Freedom of religion does not mean the right to be subsidized by the state. Hambo continues:

This intolerance is now being played out regarding our life-size Noah’s Ark project, called Ark Encounter, and our ongoing conflict with the State of Kentucky.

Yeah, yeah. Then Hambo describes his glorious litigation against Kentucky. The way he tells it, he’s desperately struggling for his freedom. Then he brings George Washington into his struggle:

So what would George Washington have said about our situation in Kentucky (and with religious liberty as a whole in the USA)? Many of the Founding Fathers were Christians, and by and large they had a Judeo-Christian ethic and it came out of the Bible.

I believe Washington would be horrified at what is happening in the nation he helped found! He would be wondering how the First Amendment could be so misinterpreted. An amendment that was supposed to guarantee freedom of religion is now being used to enforce freedom from Christianity.

We’re not too sure of that. One reason is that we can’t find any mention of Washington’s objection to The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which disestablished the Anglican Church in Virginia.

Hambo’s post drones on and on, but we’ve given you the general idea. What can we say? If Hambo believes that Washington is on his side, that’s fine with us. It’s not the first time we’ve questioned the accuracy of his beliefs. And we’re confident that it won’t be the last.

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

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31 responses to “Ken Ham and George Washington

  1. Our Curmudgeon tantalisingly suggests

    We could have a new Creative Challenge to see if you can come up with a more improbable couple.

    Marie Curie and Pee Wee Herman.

  2. Larry Flint and Mother Teresa.

  3. Quite apart from the misapplied whining about being turned down for tax relief, for an enterprise supposedly focussed on the provision and improvement of “spiritual”/ “transcendent”/ “non-material” aspects of life (whatever those might actually be), this religion business of Kanny Humbug’s sure expends a stunning amount of its effort on pecuniary issues, most especially those of its own purse…
    _________________________________

    Curmy, opening sentence, “worth while worthwhile.” 😛

  4. We could have a new Creative Challenge to see if you can come up with a more improbable couple.

    Ken Ham and reason.

  5. Hmm, I thought Padre Megalonyx would suggest “Curmudgeon and Olivia” as the non plus ultra at-odds couple.

  6. Stephen Kennedy

    Hambo would not be so eager to invoke our first president if he knew that instead of being a bible believing Christian, Washington was almost certainly a Deist.

  7. so do the secularists have the government subsidize their projects or how in Ham’s view is the state enabling the secularists

  8. Another Tom

    Benjamin Franklin and Ken Ham

  9. Ken Ham and Noah.

    Yes, I went there.

  10. Con-Tester says: “Curmy, opening sentence …”

    Got it. Thanks.

  11. Our Con-Tester considered that

    Megalonyx would suggest “Curmudgeon and Olivia” as the non plus ultra at-odds couple

    Not even for the sake of hyperbolic humour should even the merest whiff of such a suggestion be made, such is the distress it would cause to poor Olivia.

    And it’s not even remotely framable within human imagination, it would be a meeting of matter and anti-matter resulting in inexpressible annihilation. Even the Mutliverse Hypothesis does not admit, out of the infinite number of possible universes, a single one in which such an outrageous coupling could occur.

  12. aturingtest

    Strangest (and thinnest) argument from authority ever- if you’re going to use A Great Man to back up your position, you could at least make the minimum effort to do a little quote-mining, or even just pretend he might have “this and such.” Make it up if you have to, but don’t wonder aloud what The Great Man would have said and then have him say nothing at all.

    And I love the way Ham spits out the word “secular” as if it’s a position necessarily opposed to his own, an atheist position; my feeling has always been that it’s more of an agnostic one- in this context, complete neutrality. But then, I suppose with Ham and his “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality, neutrality is opposition.

  13. Megalonyx, dismissing the idea of a Curmudgeon-Olivia conjunction, says: “Even the Mutliverse Hypothesis does not admit, out of the infinite number of possible universes, a single one in which such an outrageous coupling could occur.”

    Even less likely is any kind of linkage between Megalonyx and a living female of the human species.

  14. Speaking of George Washington, I wonder which side he and Thomas Jefferson would have chosen if they had lived to see the Civil War.

    That said, my pairing for the Odd Couple Creative Challenge would be John Quincy Adams and Kent Hovind.

  15. michaelfugate

    I am sure George would say “Ken, are you f**king nuts!. No one today would be so ignorant as to accept Biblical literalism, H – E – Double Toothpicks, no one in my day with a modicum of enlightenment knowledge accepted that nonsense.”

    I also love that he had dogs named Tipsey, Tipler and Drunkard…

  16. Wendy Wright & Sam Harris.

  17. Excuse me for taking this a little too seriously, but I was thinking of Saint Francis of Assisi, who:
    would welcome being literally the kin of animals
    lived a life of poverty
    built the Nativity scene (consider the differences there!)

  18. michaelfugate

    TomS – yes one wants to celebrate humanity and all creation being destroyed and the other it being saved….
    I am noticing several of our “friends” anxiously (gleefully?) hoping that crises in the Middle East will bring on the apocalypse. It seems to me an odd thing to hope for, but Jack chick appears to have a following.

  19. “We could have a new Creative Challenge to see if you can come up with a more improbable couple.”
    Ol’ Hambo and Buddha.
    Ol’ Hambo’s daughter and Shah Rukh Khan..

  20. Ken Ham and Madalyn O’Hair

  21. @SC

    Washington was President when Congress proposed a Bill of Rights, consisting of 12 Amendments to the Constitution (the first two weren’t ratified by the states).

    Not to quibble, but the 2nd proposed amendment was eventually ratified, in 1992, and is now our 27th amendment.

    It’s a bit of trivia that could win a bar bet someday… you know, on those occasions when you are sitting at the bar discussing constitutional amendments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-seventh_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

  22. Ed says: “Not to quibble, but the 2nd proposed amendment was eventually ratified, in 1992, and is now our 27th amendment.”

    Right. I mentioned that in The Unknown Bill of Rights.

  23. Washington once owned the largest distillery in Virginia. 🙂

  24. Mike Elzinga

    How does Ken Ham know what Washington would think; was he there?

    Ken Ham’s “holy book” is no more reliable than Ken Ham when it comes to “facts;” and Ham’s whining demonstrates why.

  25. Even when I was a right-wing zealot, I never understood the obsession with looking for guidance from people who stole land from natives and deemed black people as being only 3/5 human. I just sort of went with it, assuming it made sense to someone.

  26. Dave Luckett

    Yeah. TomS is right. Francis of Assisi and Ken.

    To Francis, the animals were his kin. He would have been charmed and delighted by the definitive demonstration of common descent.

  27. Kirk Cameron and Charles Darwin.

    I was going to say Kirk Cameron and a banana but probably best not.

  28. Justin says: “Even when I was a right-wing zealot, I never understood the obsession with looking for guidance from people who stole land from natives and deemed black people as being only 3/5 human.”

    People in both extremes of the political spectrum can have a flawed understanding of the Founders. See The U.S. Constitution’s “Three-Fifths” Clause.

  29. I don’t know about Washington, but here’s Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia:

    The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    Gee, the principal writer of the Declaration of Independence accepted both polytheism and atheism? Does that mean the United States was born in sin?

  30. @Stephen Kennedy, It is not altogether clear that Washington was a Deist. He attended Anglican churches his whole life, although not extremely regularly, about once a month as an adult, which was about average for the time. Washington did not write much about his personal beliefs and religious feelings. He did, however, write in support of religious freedom, especially mentioning Jews and Catholics, not the most popular groups in colonial America. I would say that Washington’s view of religious freedom meant that people could believe what they want and go to church where they want, not the freedom to shove their beliefs down other people’s throats.

    https://wisconsinhumanist.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/stop-the-presses-george-washington-was-catholic/

  31. I really don’t see the point in debating the religious (or non-religious) views of the Founding Fathers. I agree completely with Justin on this point. We know perfectly well where some of them stood concerning human rights.

    We should let their official document, the Constitution, be our guide.