Answers in Genesis To Sue For Their Public Handouts

If you heard the sound of another shoe heavily dropping over in Kentucky, it’s the lawsuit being filed by Answers in Genesis, which is demanding public subsidies for its proposed Ark Encounter theme park without having to comply with state constitutional and statutory provisions requiring non-discrimination in employment. TPM’s Catherine Thompson has the story:

The saga that is the construction of Ark Encounter, Kentucky’s proposed “creationist theme park,” plowed on Tuesday as the project’s coordinator vowed to sue the state for discrimination.

Ironically, it was the project’s proprietor, Answers in Genesis, refusing to agree to hiring practices that wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of religion that led Kentucky tourism officials to yank about $18 million worth of crucial tax incentives for Ark Encounter in December.

Answers in Genesis said in a statement Tuesday that the decision to reject its application for the tax incentives “violates federal and state law and amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.”

“Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary,” Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham said in the statement. “However, the state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court. This is the latest example of increasing government hostility towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant.”

Really? Seriously? You’ve got your hand out for public dollars and you’re whining about having to comply with non-discrimination laws?

Nothing’s changed my mind from what I said about this situation back in December, when I described this is a convergence of bad economic development policies with secularized religious conservatism:

The real bottom line here is once again to draw much-needed attention to the gross outrage associated with people who demand public tax subsidies for private religious activities without compliance with basic public policies binding on everyone else using your and my tax dollars. It’s beyond me how Ham and company can claim “persecution” for having to raise their own damn money in order to practice bigotry along with their propagation of ignorance about both biology and religion. But perhaps their hijinks—and the second thoughts of the Commonwealth of Kentucky—will convince people to take a fresh look at use of tax dollars for dubious economic development efforts as well as for dubious presentations of Christianity.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.