Ken Ham’s Litigation: Americans United Joins In

This is the latest event in the suit filed against Kentucky by Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). We first discussed the case here: AIG’s Complaint Against Kentucky. The last time we posted about it was Ken Ham’s Litigation: Kentucky Moves To Dismiss.

Today’s news comes from ol’ Hambo himself. He just posted Americans United At It Again! He says, with bold font added by us:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is going after AiG’s life-size Noah’s Ark again. This time they have lodged a motion in federal court to intervene in regard to our lawsuit with the State of Kentucky over a denial of the Ark project participating in a tourism tax incentive program. Its intervenors “are four Kentucky taxpayers who oppose the use of their tax dollars to promote religion” and each person “pays taxes, including sales and income taxes, to the Commonwealth.”

Hambo isn’t very clear about what’s going on. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is seeking to intervene in the suit and, like the state of Kentucky, they want to file a motion to dismiss AIG’s suit. Wikipedia says:

Americans United describes itself as officially non-sectarian and non-partisan. Its national headquarters are in Washington, D.C.. It has both religious and non-religious members, members from various political parties, and members of the clergy. Its current executive director, Barry W. Lynn, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, as well as an attorney involved with civil liberties issues.

In other words, it’s going to be difficult for ol’ Hambo to portray them as an atheist group. Okay, back to Hambo:

According to the Intervenors’ Motion to Dismiss, two of the four intervenors are stated to be “ordained Christian ministers.” For instance, one of them is Christopher M. Caldwell who states, “I am a minister ordained in the Baptist Faith and I serve as pastor at Broadway Baptist Church.”

Pastor Caldwell went on to declare the following: “The tax rebates sought for Ark Encounter would effectively compel me, as a Kentucky taxpayer, to subsidize a religious ministry against my will.” This same statement is made by three others, including Paul Simmons on faculty at the University of Louisville, a “minister ordained in the Baptist faith.” He states he has “served as pastor and interim pastor at a number of churches in Kentucky.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Even Baptist preachers oppose tax goodies for AIG. Hambo goes on:

Americans United for Separation for Church and State knows that no one will be compelled “to subsidize a religious ministry against … [their] will.” And no one is compelling people to visit the Ark Encounter. Moreover, contrary to popular — but wrong — opinion, the tax incentive is not some kind of government grant to help Answers in Genesis construct the Ark Encounter. AU is guilty of helping to perpetuate this myth that money is coming out of the state treasury to build the Ark.

That’s not the issue, Hambo. The issue is whether the state should be paying any of its tax revenues to an evangelical organization — regardless of the bookkeeping label AIG assigns to the tax bonanza it seeks. Hambo continues:

In its motion to dismiss our lawsuit, AU makes it seem as if the proposed tax incentives would be akin to a government grant, but that is a complete misrepresentation of the actual tax incentive, which would be a rebate of a percentage of sales tax from ticket sales collected from those who voluntarily visit the Ark Encounter.

Yes, but even so, that’s not the issue. It’s still tax money from the state. Here’s more:

Now, AU really knows all this, so why would it have these Kentucky citizens join them to declare something in a legal filing that is totally untrue? Well, from what I’ve seen over the years, I suggest AU engages in such tactics for fundraising purposes.

Oh, how evil! A holy man like Hambo would never do anything like that! Moving along, he says:

Interestingly, AU itself is a 501(c)(3) organization that receives a number of tax benefits from the government because of its nonprofit status!

That’s also true of AIG. But unlike AIG, AU isn’t seeking tax money from the state. Another excerpt:

Our attorneys will obviously file an opposition to the intervention, but this motion by Ark opponents illustrates their desperate efforts to undermine our project. They have a fear of the strategic ministries of AiG and perhaps even a grudging respect of what AiG has accomplished over the years (as God has blessed us).

Hambo says his adversaries are desperate. They fear him. On with his article:

In a press release AU states, “in a motion to intervene and a proposed motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed last night in a federal district court, Americans United says it wants to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to unconstitutionally finance a religious ministry.”

Here’s a link to AU’s Press Release. It gives us links to their motion to intervene and their proposed motion to dismiss Hambo’s lawsuit. We haven’t read them, but we doubt that they speak of AU’s fear and desperation. Rather, the pres release says this:

“A fundamentalist Christian theme park run by a creationist ministry doesn’t deserve any form of public assistance,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Kentucky never should have gotten involved with the Ark Park, but we’re going to help get it out of this mess and protect taxpayer money from misuse.”

Here’s one last excerpt from Hambo:

The repeated attacks against the Ark Encounter from different secular groups, much of the media, and the state of Kentucky highlight that this matter is not simply an earthly battle. Just like when the Creation Museum was being proposed and construction began, AiG has been facing a battle “not … against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” [Scripture reference].

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If that’s true, then Hambo’s lawsuit is a sure bet. But the courtroom is here on Earth. So we’ll be watching to see how it works out.

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

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32 responses to “Ken Ham’s Litigation: Americans United Joins In

  1. Basically, Ham wants to launder taxpayer money by talking about “tax incentives” to make it appear that he’s not asking for anything illegitimate. It won’t wash.

    A “tax incentive” is a subsidy. Giving one to an expressly religious enterprise is deeply questionable, especially when it’s quite clear that the operators of that enterprise are demanding the subsidy for their particular religion and would look unkindly on efforts by, say, Muslim fundamentalists to obtain one for a similar project of their own.

  2. I find it amusing that every time Hambo doesn’t get his way, his temper tantrum always makes the case that it’s the wicked evil secularists of the world trying to keep his holiness down

  3. Derek Freyberg

    I read my way through AiG’s initial pleading (tedious, tendentious), Kentucky’s motion to dismiss (well-written, good case cites, notes that AiG’s brief fails to cite a key case that basically dooms them – which is not a smart move: ignoring, rather than distinguishing, contrary case law does not endear you to the judge), and AU’s motion to intervene and motion to dismiss (sensible and low-key, they argue that they should be allowed in because their interests are not the same as Kentucky’s – in particular, they hadn’t previously said that the project was worthy of tax incentives, and they claim individual standing to object under the “compelled worship” clause of Kentucky’s constitution). Ham’s bluster about government grant versus rebate is I think convincingly rebutted in Kentucky’s motion, which points out that sales taxes when collected are state money, so rebating them is a grant of state money to the organization getting the rebate. Clearly AiG will oppose AU’s joinder and the motions to dismiss; but if they can’t do some better lawyering real soon now they are in trouble.

  4. Mike Elzinga

    I would think that Kentucky could use Ham’s posted words against him.

    In the Dover case, newspaper articles and letters to the editor were admitted as evidence that there was indeed a religious motive behind the Dover School Board’s action and that everyone in the community perceived it that way despite board member denials.

    I would think that a judge would be quite interested in seeing solid evidence of Ham’s mindset and motives in the form of Ham’s own diatribes.

  5. So according to the Hamster, when it is him against the rest of the world that proves that he is right? Got it.

  6. SC: “We haven’t read them, but we doubt that they speak of AI’s fear and desperation …”

    “AI” > AU? The “U” key and the “I” key are neighbors on the keyboard, so these things happen … AI would be Artificial Intelligence rather than Americans United, right?

  7. Hambo really does wear the most vision obstructing blinders (“Biblical Glasses”). He complains A.U. is a 501(c)(3), well so is his legal team “freedom guard”. In addition the ark park is for profit. Do you see how Hambo always thinks he should be able to have his cake and eat it too? He wants to be a religious bigot and discriminate during hiring but then he wants the rebate given to businesses that can’t discriminate. All this is a lure to have an exhibit that won’t last more than two decades, won’t create many jobs, and worst of all makes Kentucky look like a land of backwood hicks.

  8. Thanks, hnohf. Typo fixed.

  9. Of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, our Curmudgeon asserts

    it’s going to be difficult for ol’ Hambo to portray them as an atheist group

    Disagree.

    I would argue that nothing is easier for a rabid religious sectarian such as Hambo to confidently assert that all other religious sectarians are idolators or apostates at best and therefore effectively ‘atheists.’

    If anyone doubts how bloodthirsty sectarianism between supposed co-religionists can be, I suggest a survey of the long wars of religion which blighted centuries of European history–and their last embers still smoldering in, say, Northern Ireland.

    Personally, I don’t see anything to choose intellectually between Westboro Baptist Church and ISIS jihadis. They are kindred spirits, differing at the moment only in number of recruits and weaponry available.

    IOW: for a Baptist, no Catholic is a TRVE Scotsman, and vice versa &c. &c.

  10. O sod it! HTML tags went south again 😦

    O Great Hand of Correction and Chastisement, yet again I must beg forgiveness and entreat the intervention of Thy divine mercy and repair!

    [*Voice from above*] Do not be distressed, my son.

  11. waldteufel

    It is so much fun watching Hambo stew in his own juices. . . .
    The schadenfreude is strong here.

  12. Charles Deetz ;)

    Hammy should be pretty intimidated, not cavalier, that AU is getting in on this. They are the pros of separation of religion and government, and probably would be even more effective than the State of Kentucky to put the Ark Encounter business in its place.

  13. What will Ham do if he loses the tax subsidy? I’m sure that his budget projections for the project include the rebates as a key element, as well as high-end estimates of attendance and revenues. He has a history of being overly optimistic on this project regarding both schedule and funding, so there’s no reason not to believe his internal projections are likewise optimistic. The man is not rational, and based on his required statements of belief, he surrounds himself with equally irrational true believers – so there is no one to bring him back to each.

    So, if the tax subsidy is disallowed, it might bring a jolt of reality to the project. Even Ham will concede that it will stretch the schedule for expanding the park to its original plan. A smaller park with only one exhibit will attract fewer people, lowering revenues even further. Surely at some point he’s going to realize that even breaking even will be a challenge, and an ignominous collapse is a real possibility. Pulling out of the project before it is built, and claiming that he fought against the “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” might be the last chance he has to save face. He could claim that he fought the good fight, and live to fight another day.

    He could use the funds he managed to raise for additions to his museum, and claim that good came of it after all. It certainly seems to be a better choice than spending all that money only to have an abandoned, weathering wooden monument to AiG’s failure rotting away in the nearby Kentucky countryside.

  14. Ed says: “Even Ham will concede”
    Nope. Never happen. To someone who lives in such absolutes as he, concession is analogous to making a pact with Lucifer himself. He will never concede, never admit error, never admit mistakes, never admit that “God pointed him in the wrong direction”. It will. Never. Happen.

  15. Ed suggests that, in the face of collapse of his Ark, Hambo

    could use the funds he managed to raise for additions to his museum, and claim that good came of it after all.

    Don’t overlook additions to his personal bank account. Which may have been the plan all along, as far as I can tell…

  16. @Ed: I agree that Ham is overly optomistic — with or without the sales tax rebates. His location for the Ark Park is too far from any population center to be viable — that is to say, it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s at least an hour’s drive from most of Cincinnati’s households and Lexington as well — and there just aren’t enough people there who are willing to drive that far just to be harangued about religion. On top of that, it would be a “one-n-done” attraction very little repeat business. been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

    There’s no other draw in the area to attrack people either, unless you count the very small outlet mall about ten miles away at the Dry Ridge exit, and it’s struggling.

    as Gary said, Ham will never concede. He’s going to lose his shirt. (Correction — his “investors” will lose their shirts.) With or without the tax break.

    On top of all that, it’s too far off the highway to be seen by passersby — no “drop-in” business.

  17. Derek Freyberg

    @Mike Elzinga:

    Kentucky has indeed used Ken Ham’s words against him. If you read both Motions to Dismiss (Kentucky’s and AU’s), they each quote AiG and Ark Encounter to establish the clear religious mission of Ark Encounter, and hence the wrongfulness of using state money (tax rebates) to further the purposes of Ark Encounter. The motions boil down to “AiG and Ark Encounter are free to discriminate in hiring and proselytize all they like – just not with Kentucky tax dollars”.

  18. Guys, I thought about suggesting that the funds go to Ham’s retirement fund, but I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, the Museum is the physical manifestation of Ham’s ego, and to him spending money on it is probably equivalent to spending money on himself. As much as we joke about it, I’ve never seen any indication that Ham is like the megachurch pastors and televangelists who live in mansions, drive super luxury cars, buy personal planes, etc.. I’m sure he does okay financially, but his identity seems to be entirely wrapped up in his museum.

    That’s why I contend that he might consider pulling out early to be more face-saving than running the thing to it’s almost inevitable failure. It’s not just a financial decision, it’s personal to Ham. Either choice will be hard, but if we had a poll on whether he would continue or quit, I would vote that he quits.

  19. Derek Freyberg

    What’s more, they don’t just quote public statements and literature from AiG and Ark Encounter, Kentucky in particular extensively cites to AiG’s Complaint as establishing the religious purpose of Ark Encounter: “It is crystal clear that the Ark is part of AiG’s religious mission. It is equally undisputed that AiG will engage in preferential religious hiring that requires applicants to adhere to AiG’s beliefs. AiG (and necessarily the Ark it owns and controls) is fervently religious in nature, and as such, can prefer its church members, within bounds, when hiring personnel. That does not mean, however, that the state must support those religious beliefs and hiring practices with public tax dollars.” (Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss, page 3); followed by, on the next couple of pages, a discussion of AiG and Ark Encounter, with extensive citation to the Complaint.
    On page 10, Kentucky says: “AiG’s Complaint does not state “plausible” claims under the law. It reveals beyond question the religious purpose of the Ark as an extension of AiG’s ministry. The Tourism Act provides sales tax funds for qualified tourism developments. Public tax funds cannot be
    diverted to advance religious objectives. This Court should dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6).”

  20. One thing I’d mention about AU, which I was a member for a while. Barry Lynn, an ordained minister, is the top dog to create the impression the organization isn’t atheist. To some degree this is true, but the Barry Lynns of the world is the unusual case. A similar tactic is that the head of right-to-life was (or maybe still is) an atheist to create the impression the organization isn’t religious.
    Contrary to RSG, I think the ark park will be successful, possibly lasting 10-15 years. It doesn’t need to be visible from the freeway, Hambo just will get some billboards on I-75. Revisiting is an issue, but Hambo’s followers don’t need novelty.

  21. Plainly it is now too late for Ham to “pull out” of the Ark Park altogether. They have already built the concrete towers the wretched construct will rest on, they have apparently cut the wood, and if they aren’t wildly optimistic indeed, construction of the Ark proper will begin this spring.

    There may well be unforeseen logistical problems. Yet, unless the whole thing burns down before it can open, we probably WILL see the, ahem, “replica” of Noah’s ark more or less completed within a couple of years. Ham hopes to open his park already next year. We’ll see.

    Whether Ham will ever be able to build the rest of his fundamentalist Disneyland is far more uncertain.

    Also, it has been observed that religious themeparks rarely last very long. Ham, though not a young man, may well live to see the day when his great Ark Park has to close — and the masses he wanted to reach will still be distinctly unconverted.

  22. hnohf: “…— and the masses he wanted to reach will still be distinctly unconverted.”

    True that. The only people willing to travel to see this thing and pay the entry fee (probably $50 or so) will be the ones who are already true believers. Even if some agnostics do happen to pony up the bucks, it will just be to satisfy curiosity. They are not likely to be “converted” from their rational thought just because some religious nutcase spent millions building a huge wooden monstrosity on land that’s supposed to look like something that would actually float upright without capsizing.

    So, Ham is either delusional or he is a conman. Tough call.

  23. Dave Luckett

    Ham clearly loathes Christians who are just a little more liberal and just a little less literalist that he is. He hates them worse than he hates downright atheists. The Christian who says that some of Genesis is not to be interpreted literally, but as instructive allegory, for instance. Ham hates such people worse than poison.

    One reason for his attitude is that they’re hunting on his range, prospecting on his claim, grazing on his patch. But there’s causes beyond simple territoriality. I think the most cogent of them is Freud’s “narcissism of small differences”, which applies to rank religious cranks like Ham.

    But I admit, it may also apply to the good Baptist pastors who are participating in this intervention. If Ham were right, and faith in the Word of God really does require a belief in a literal six-day creation and a literal flood of Noah, then they are Satanic bellwethers who are leading their flocks to Hell.

    Of course the good pastors do not believe that they are doing that. But does that belief spring entirely from their acceptance of the supremacy of evidence? Or is there also the suggestion that they cannot believe that they are actually in apostasy from the True Church, because the True Church would then be represented by Ken Ham?

    And that would be, just, just unthinkable.

  24. Dave Luckett

    Is Ham delusional, or is he a conman?

    The question assumes that he can’t be both.

  25. @Dave Luckett: I think you’re correct in saying that Kanny Humbugloathes Christians who are just a little more liberal and just a little less literalist [than] he is.” I suspect he views them as subversive turncoats and seditious traitors to his “Noble Cause”, given his rigidly absolutist approach, which is another telltale sign of extreme narcissism.

    But the only thing all these different shadings and polarisations manage to highlight is how vastly personal and subjective the whole sordid pursuit really is, contra to any claims of objectivity.

  26. The psychology of Ken Ham is an interesting study. Very true, much AiG vitriol is directed, not at evolutionists, but at “compromising Christians”. At the same time, Ham is apparently willing to grant that what you believe about the age of the earth etc. is not a “salvation issue”.

    Earlier today I read parts of Ham’s book “Already Compromised” (specifically, the parts Google Books can provide — no way I am going to add to the Ham fortune!) People like Dembski are roundly criticized for not being as uncompromisingly Bible-literalist as Ham would like them to be, but he stops short of saying they won’t be saved. (The main subject of the book is to demonstrate how various supposedly Christian colleges and universities are “compromised” by the twin horrors of “evolutionary thinking” and “millions of years”, so you shouldn’t be sending your kids to any of those!)

    So why did Ham set himself up as the guardian of his self-defined orthodoxy (which to him is of course the same as “true Christianity”), even drawing up lists of which colleges he approves and disapproves of?

    He seems attached to the memory of his late father, whom he eulogizes as a great Christian in various AiG articles. From the memories Ham so fondly shares, it seems clear that those of us who have some respect for science and Enlightenment values would have regarded Ham sr. as a reactionary fundamentalist nutcase, castigating even pastors who dared to suggest that maybe some Bible miracles didn’t happen exactly as described.

    Armed with this legacy, Ham jr. one day stumbled upon a copy of “The Genesis Flood” by Morris and Whitcomb, and I guess the rest was pretty much a given.

  27. @hnohf
    Does he make a distinction between evolutionary thinking and millions of years? The twin horrors?

  28. @TomS
    Well, not really. An accepted geological age or dating is sometimes referred to as an “evolutionary age” in AiG articles. I expressed myself as I did to emphasize that in Ham’s eyes, the concept of “millions of years” is very much a problem of its own. Even if people totally reject evolution by natural selection in favor of supernatural creation, and even believe in a literal Adam/Eve/serpent/Fall, Ham will still regard such Christians as compromisers if they accept “millions of years”.

    As noted, he will in his better moments say that this is “not a salvation issue”, but once you surrender the die-hard literalist notion of creation in 6 x 24 hours, you are stepping onto the slippery slope that may very well lead to full-blown atheism.

    According to Ken Ham, that is.

  29. Another aspect of Ham’s theology is his belief that if any part of the bible is wrong, even in the slightest, then one cannot trust the rest of the bible to be true. In his view, the foundation of the entirety of Christian belief is the inerrancy of the bible, specifically, if Adam is a myth or allegory, then there was no original sin, and no purpose to Jesus’ death on the cross. Ergo, no salvation and no Christianity.

    I think this is why he is so disturbed by other Christians who are not biblical literalists. They undermine the entire basis of Christian belief. His view is not entirely illogical – there really is no defensible basis for Christian belief if the bible is considered an untrustworthy source. It is his contortions of logic and fact that he is forced into in order to defend the inerrancy of the bible that we find amusing.

    As opposed to the DI, who are actively attempting to undermine science education via legislative action and lawsuits – they are not amusing at all.

  30. Oops – I cleared my cookies and did not notice I was anonymous again.

    [*Voice from above*] You can’t hide from me.

  31. I don’t see what the problem here is. The original ark (if there was one), was supposedly built by a 500 year old man, with NO help from the Gubmint. Or so the story says.
    If God wants it to be built, then let him provide the funding. Perhaps Ham should ask the Pope for some money, after all, isn’t he supposedly The Vicar of Christ on Earth? He’s got a fat wallet.

  32. Please don’t call him “hambo.” I think this guy is absurdly wrong but don’t lower your journalistic standards. I get you have to rally the troops but this is too low. His actions and words are stupid/ridiculous enough.