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.
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