Ken Ham’s Litigation: Kentucky Moves To Dismiss

If you don’t know about the suit filed against Kentucky by Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — it’s discussed here: AIG’s Complaint Against Kentucky. The last time we posted about it was Ken Ham’s Litigation: Two Reactions.

Today we have some news from the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is Beshear asks for dismissal of Ark case. An icon below the headline will take you to the newspaper’s comments feature.

“Beshear” refers to Steve Beshear, the Governor of Kentucky. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Beshear administration on Friday asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by developers of a proposed Noah’s Ark theme park over the state’s rejection of tax incentives for the project.

That’s expected. It would be unusual for the motion to be granted, but one never knows. Then we’re told:

Park developers Answers in Genesis filed the lawsuit in February in U.S. District Court claiming its right to freedom of religion was violated by the state’s denial of its application for $18 million in state tax incentives to for the park in Grant County. The suit was filed against Gov. Steve Beshear and Bob Stewart, secretary of the state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

We know all that. Ol’ Hambo claims his religious freedom was violated by the State’s denying him that $18 million. Let’s read on:

In their motion to dismiss on Friday, Beshear and Stewart said, “Providing the public funding sought for religious purposes … would constitute an unlawful establishment of religion” under the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions. [That ellipsis is in the newspaper’s article.]

It’s possible that the judge might dismiss the complaint. You know about the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Here’s the Kentucky Constitution. Section 5 of the state’s Bill of Rights says:

No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

And although it doesn’t seem directly applicable to Hambo’s theme park, Section 189 of the Kentucky Constitution says:

No portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school.

Back to the news story:

Beshear and Stewart said that the state’s denial of public funds for the ark park “reflects no hostility toward Plaintiffs’ faith” and does not prohibit Answers in Genesis and its affiliated organizations from following their religious beliefs.

That’s certainly true. The rest of the story is background information, so we can do without it. But this is worth noting:

Last year a board within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet that reviews such applications gave preliminary approval of an application seeking $18 million in tax rebates for the $73 million development that would feature a 510-foot wooden replica of Noah’s Ark.

But in December Stewart rejected the aplication [sic] on final review saying the applicant changed its position on hiring practices and now intended to discriminate in hiring based on religion. Stewart said the project had evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of the ministry activities of Answers in Genesis.

Motions to dismiss are usually routine, and in all likelihood, this one will be denied and the litigation will continue. We’ll be watching.

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

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13 responses to “Ken Ham’s Litigation: Kentucky Moves To Dismiss

  1. Ha, the chickens are coming home to roost! Beshear was all lovey-dovey with Hambo a few years ago. Press conferences, document signings and all that jazz. Great boon for Kentucky!

    Now it appears that getting reamed by old Hambo isn’t all the frat party Beshear thought it would be.

    Hey, rough Hambo sex! You get what you pay for.

  2. One question: If the motion is dismissed, how will the litigation continue?

    What recourse will AiG have?

  3. AiG can appeal the dismissal to an appellate court.

  4. If dismissed, besides appealing, Ham will play the martyr even louder than he is now–in hopes of rallying donor support for the Spruce Goose of “creation science”. (Well….at least the wooden plane actually got off the ground–or the water, actually. I say Ham will never “set afloat” his ark.)

  5. From the article, “Stewart said the project had evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of the ministry activities of Answers in Genesis.”

    Clearly, a Ken Ham project should not be allowed to evolve!

  6. From the article:

    Stewart said the project had evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of the ministry activities of Answers in Genesis.

    Not true! Hambo always referred to the Ark Project as an extension of his ministry. From day 1, and often. That’s why years ago I was aghast at Beshear and Kentucky actively supporting this overtly religious project with state money.

    Kentucky was doing backflops to convince themselves this was “just” a tourist attraction until Hambo announced he was going to discriminate in hiring. It leads me to believe that old Hambo is more religious nutter than con man. Any decent con man wouldhave simply changed his job advertisement literature and moved on to the next mark.

    (backflop – a Kentucky idiom for when a backflip goes wrong.)

  7. docbill observes, “It leads me to believe that old Hambo is more religious nutter than con man.”

    Good point, doc. But still, the $18 million he’s giving up from the state by maintaining his “religious purity” is less than he’s bringing in from the “religious gullible” with his Creation Museum, Answers in Genesis and Ark Encounter shtick. He’s gotta maintain his image, don’tsha know.

  8. “No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place . . .”

    Surely the use of tax money, even indirectly by way of tax preferences, qualifies as “contribution” to the “maintenance” of Ham’s Arkapalooza.

  9. docbill1351

    If you’ve ever driven by a run-down amusement park or roadside attraction, that’s the Ark Encounter in 10 years or less. Conveniently, Hambo will declare bankruptcy of the Ark Encounter shell company, take a loss on his “investment” and abandon the property. It will sit there for a few years until somebody gets hurt or it becomes a public nuisance after which the State of Kentucky will have to remediate the site at a cost of millions. Win-win for Hambo, lose-lose for Kentucky,

  10. @docbill: States should require that developers such as Ham post a site remediation bond to cover a bankruptcy contingency.

  11. A new article on AiG also points out that the project was explicitly religious from the start:

    “The state alleges that the Ark has changed its objective from tourist attraction to a ministry. AiG, however, has long pointed out the obvious: this Bible-themed park, like its sister attraction, the successful Creation Museum, would center on religious themes. How could Gov. Beshear—who originally expressed his enthusiastic support for the Ark project in 2010 and also declared that the law could not discriminate against a tourist project because of its message—now claim that he has suddenly discovered that a theme park based on biblical themes is about religion?”

    (Unquote https://answersingenesis.org/religious-freedom/kentucky-responds-aig-lawsuit/)

    It does seem Beshear handled this very clumsily. Initially, he apparently wasn’t overly troubled by the whole “separation of state and religion” thing. Only later were the legal facts forced onto his attention by more clear-thinking people, and he had to backpedal. Now he is trying to blame AiG because their project has supposedly “evolved” (!) into something else than what Ken Ham originally presented to him. It has not.

    Not that Ark Encounter deserves tax rebates after all; it should never have been granted any in the first place.

  12. Re: @hnohf’s link

    Ken Ham is remarkably consistent whatever the subject. Once someone has decided something, whether that is the age of the Earth or the granting of tax benefits, that person should not change their mind no matter what new evidence says or how the situation changes. That’s just waffling.

    Stay strong, Ken. Your stubbornness has always proven to be your best attribute.

  13. This from 2010:

    Since Gov. Steven L. Beshear announced the plan on Wednesday, some constitutional experts have raised alarms over whether government backing for an enterprise that promotes religion violates the First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state. But Mr. Beshear, a Democrat, said the arrangement posed no constitutional problem, and brushed off questions about his stand on creationism.

    “The people of Kentucky didn’t elect me governor to debate religion,” he said at a news conference. “They elected me governor to create jobs.”

    New York Times

    Old Hambo’s really shot himself in the foot this time. If he had kept his mitts off the shell company and let them do their thing (pulling the strings in the background, of course) he’d be on Easy Street. Now, he’s truly stuck. If he backs down on the hiring requirements you can bet I’ll be the first in line to excoriate Hambo for caving his faith for money! But, he won’t back down. He can’t. He’s stuck.