This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is news of a creationist theme park in Kentucky, a project of a far-right group called Answers in Genesis, which will apparently qualify for state aid.

The amusement park, named Ark Encounter, will include all the modern recreation amenities, including: a full-sized wooden ark, a “walled city much like was found in ancient times, a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits, a first-century Middle Eastern village” and even outdoor parking. The park is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014. […]

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the theme park will seek tax incentives, under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which could subsidize up to 25 percent of the project. The state, then, returns the sales tax on costs such as admission, food and gift sales.

Senior VP of Answers in Genesis Mike Zovath told the Courier-Journal that Kentucky officials have told him the proposal for tax incentives “looks good,” and that the park could draw up 1.6 million visitors a year.

On Wednesday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) administration said it’s working with the creationist group, not necessarily as an endorsement of the Answers in Genesis agenda, but because the park is projected to create 900 jobs in the state.

As for potential legal difficulties associated with state financing of a religious attraction — one that will apparently tell visitors there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark — stay tuned.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* The Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of anti-gay hate groups last month, and included some of the religious right’s most powerful organizations. To say that these groups are unhappy with the designation “would be a massive understatement.”

* For those hoping to argue that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would somehow interfere with religious liberty in the military, the argument is baseless.

* A Christian woman in Pakistan is facing a possible death sentence for blasphemy against Islam: “She is accused of denigrating the Prophet Muhammad after fellow agriculture workers protested that a Christian had been asked to bring them a container of drinking water.” (thanks to reader C.W.)

* Pope Benedict XVI wants policymakers around the world to consider embryos dynamic, autonomous individuals. Such a policy would not only eliminate potentially life-saving medical research, but also stop all IVF treatments.

* Marcus Lamb offers another example of a larger trend: prominent televangelists sure do get caught up in a lot of sex scandals.

* Fox News began pushing a story this week about an elementary school in Florida that banned the “traditional Christmas colors” of red and green from classrooms. Fox News appears to have made this up.