Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ark Encounter Suing Kentucky

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is continuing his quest to be recognized as one of the most obnoxious jerks on the planet. After his Noah's Ark theme park attraction was denied tax subsidies by the state of Kentucky, he threatened a lawsuit and is now following through on those threats. He claims that by denying him tax subsidies for a project that will hire only young-Earth creationists, and thus discriminate on the basis of religion, the state is actually discriminating against him.

I realize that it requires a special lack of critical thinking skills to be a young-Earth creationist in the first place, and a further lack of mental coherence to argue that those who accept the convoluted, nonsensical (and not even very scriptural) Ussher chronology are the only "real Christians." Ham has done both. But what I don't understand here is how Ham expects to win his case. Corporations that discriminate can't get subsidies, period. There's no legal loophole here to exploit and no real case to be made. But he's apparently going forward anyway.

In a new press release, Ham lays out his claims. He believes he’s the victim of religious discrimination — because the state won’t let him receive tax dollars for his Ark Encounters park while discriminating in hiring.

Ken Ham is the man behind Answers in Genesis, Kentucky’s Creation Museum (which employs exhibits to teach children that man and dinosaurs lived at the same time), and the Ark Encounters theme park, which is underway a short distance from the Creation Museum. The park, Ham hopes, will help prove that Noah could, indeed, fit two of every type of animal on a functional wooden boat.

Ham’s problems came about because of a clash between a state tax benefit he sought and his hiring practices. The program allows tourist attractions that generate a certain amount of tax revenue to receive a rebate of part of that revenue — in other words, have some of their tax dollars returned. However, Ken Ham was denied access to the program because of discriminatory hiring practices that came to light.

Specifically, a person who applied to work at Ham’s Ark Encounters park would be asked to sign a statement saying he shared Ham’s Young Earth Christian faith. Americans United for Separation of Church and State contacted officials in Kentucky, noting that to grant Ham’s project access to the tax-funded program would be to “compel taxpayers to support religious discrimination.”

Ham will lose, but it surprises me that he hasn't thought out the ramifications if by some miracle he were to win. The law has to apply to everyone equally under the constitution, so it would mean that Muslim businesses that only hire Muslims and atheist businesses that only hire atheists would be able to get the same tax breaks. Does Ham really want that precedent set? He probably he wants to have his cake and eat it too, carving out a special constitutional exception for Christians that excludes everyone else. Because otherwise the government is discriminating against Christians by not allowing them to discriminate.

When I talk about the incoherence of the Poor Oppressed Christian worldview this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Ham's position is illogical, discriminatory, and ultimately silly.

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