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So that’s how religious fantasies directly harm people…

The child-raping and the beheadings get all the headlines, but meanwhile, the machinery of faith keeps clawing at the foundation of society in subtler ways as well — it’s a free-wheeling parasitic scam, an infection that our social immune system is conditioned to tolerate. Answers in Genesis is a beautiful example. They have millions of dollars that they funnel into lying to people and corrupting education, and ultimately, they really are just a grand scam for leaching money out of their environment. I mentioned that they’re selling junk bonds to expand their operations, and that their ridiculous Ark Park is a boondoggle retreating into the distance as they continually promise and fail. Americans United describes their other tactic: hoodwinking secular government into propping up their depradations.

The latest ploy comes courtesy of the city of Williamstown, which is not far from Cincinnati. The town already gave the overtly religious park a 75 percent property tax break, and Bloomberg News reported this week that the city plans to sell $62 million in municipal bonds in December for AiG affiliates. This means the city is actively taking on quite a bit of debt for the sole purpose of funding the Ark Park.

And by “the city”, of course, what they mean are the citizens and businesses of Williamstown, who are being robbed of massive sums of money to support that con man, Ken Ham.

The article also mentions that AiG has received $40 million plus in tax incentives from the state…for a proposal that has only managed to get somewhere around $4 million in donations. That’s a whole lot of huffing and puffing to inflate the lead balloon of the Ark Park. Further, they’re sinking $2 million into improving a road to nowhere, the proposed Ark Park site.

But let’s step back a bit. This isn’t just a sinkhole into which the state of Kentucky proposes to throw money — even if it were to “succeed” as a tourist attraction, the existence of a state-subsidized monument to anti-scientific idiocy ought to be an embarrassment and an impediment to the status of the region. The state of Kentucky and the city of Williamstown seem to be happily shooting themselves over this deal…all because it’s in the name of faith and piety and god.

Comments

  1. MarkM1427 says

    “Lead balloon” is not really strong enough to describe the failure of the Ark Park. After all, the mythbusters actually made a lead balloon fly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZSkM-QEeUg

    “Heap of bullshit” doesn’t really work either, because bullshit is a useful fertilizer and anti-science nonsense isn’t useful for ANYTHING.

    Ah, that’s it: Snake Oil!! As in, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell shouldn’t say a single fucking word about government spending while their state continues to invest in this snake oil.

  2. raven says

    city plans to sell $62 million in municipal bonds in December for AiG affiliates. This means the city is actively taking on quite a bit of debt for the sole purpose of funding the Ark Park.

    No it doesn’t!!!

    These bonds are apparently Industrial Development Municipal bonds, unrated.

    The city of Williamstown has zero obligation to pay them off or make sure they are paid off. They simply lend their name to the bonds.

    The Ark Park is the only one to pay off these bonds from their cash flow. And if they can’t, they don’t. These are high risk junk bonds and can and often do default.

  3. thewhollynone says

    The city of Williamstown simply lends its name to the bonds? In other words the city council (is that who’s doing the lending of the name?) is using the name of government to prop up a junk bond scam which will most probably beggar any investors. Seems to me that a decent lawyer could get an injunction against that foolishness.

  4. raven says

    The Ark Park recently converted from for-profit to a 5013c nonprofit. Which makes their religious purpose even more obvious.

    1. It’s not clear that a nonprofit 5013c can even issue industrial development municipal bonds. I’ve never heard of a church issuing such bonds anyway.

    2. It is also not clear that the city of Williamstown can issue municipal bonds for a religious organization. At some point, separation of church and state has to kick in.

    IMO, they have been crowding that line for a while and are now over it.

  5. consciousness razor says

    raven:

    The Ark Park recently converted from for-profit to a 5013c nonprofit. Which makes their religious purpose even more obvious.

    I don’t know if it’d be possible to make it more obvious. And I’m no expert, but wiki‘s got this much covered. Religions get lumped in with all of this stuff, so to me it looks like if the right people look the other way, it could count as any of them:

    501(c)(3) — Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations

    Anyway, whatever the tax codes may say, what True Religious Institution™ isn’t all about profiting from bullshit? I mean, them claiming otherwise almost makes me want to doubt the sincerity of their faith. That’s what they do and who they are, so they should just own it, you know? Or own anything they want, I guess. Jesus loves all of you, and he needs all of your money in this bag. Nobody move! *fires into the air*

  6. consciousness razor says

    Err, that’s supposed to say “got this pretty much covered.”

    I’m still figuring out this whole grammar thing.

  7. anuran says

    Meanwhile….

    The little storefront church around the corner is an emergency services center of last resort. They provide food, clothing, social support and, yes, comfort to a lot of people who fall through the cracks. And they probably haven’t gotten a new roof or floor or furnace since the Nixon Administration.

    My martial arts teacher is a Conservative, Bible-believing Christian and gives meaning to the term “poorer than church-mice”. He and his wife have provided a home to strays – recovering addicts, impoverished families and at-risk kids – for the twenty years I’ve known them. Dozens of teenagers and young adults call his wife “Mom” because she was a better mother to them than the women who birthed them. He’s out of work but spends his time as the volunteer handyman/electrician/plumber/carpenter HVAC guy at the local homeless shelter because his Faith demands that he love his fellow people, feed the hungry and clothe the cold.

    The dergah my wife attends runs non-religious education programs in gardening, sustainable living, basic cooking and home economics and recreation for kids (reading, archery, martial arts) without junk bonds or “faith and community based affairs” subsidies. No charge. No proselytizing. No burqas or FGM or “Death to Americas!” (In fact, a fair number of the members are veterans)

    And there are thousands more like these. They’re generally small, low-key, no-budget and invisible, at least until they disappear. They don’t molest little children (at least no more than atheists do). They don’t behead anyone (at least no more than atheists do). They’re normal, decent people who happen to have a different viewpoint. Yeah, they’re motivated by religious convictions. They’re superstitious. They’re contemptible because they believe what you do not believe and do not believe what you believe.

    What they don’t do is “claw at the foundations of society”. They are part of those foundations. They don’t suck down tax money or hoodwink the Faithful in order to pull down fat salaries. They’re more likely to be the victims of that sort of scam. Their humble, misguided, antiquated, god-bothering work has done more measurable good in the real world than any number of skeptics’ revival meetings or intellectual circle jerks.

    Dislike their religion all you want. I certainly do. But don’t you dare sneer at the good they’ve done until you’ve done a tenth as much.

  8. brianpansky says

    @7
    anuran

    But don’t you dare sneer at the good they’ve done

    where did people sneer at the good they’ve done? i’m confused here.

    please use quotes and indicate which person and post you are responding to. your entire post is confusing to me since no context is given.

    until you’ve done a tenth as much.

    do you have a reliable citation for how much that is?

    or are you talking about something that can’t be measured, like good things done by people who happen to be religious? (as opposed to good done specifically with money donated to churches, which can be measured the way non-profit organizations are rated)

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dislike their religion all you want. I certainly do. But don’t you dare sneer at the good they’ve done until you’ve done a tenth as much.

    Gee, and what minor percentage of religious help do they actually represent? And aren’t there also non-sectarian help services that do the same? Or that should be there with tax dollars? Get real.

  10. MarkM1427 says

    @7

    If you take the religion out of every last one of the people you mentioned, they could still find reasons to do the good things they do. Contrast that with the people who commit one malevolent act after another in the name of religion, and you’ll see just how weak your wall of text post really was. Also, who ever sneered at the good things that people who happen to be religious do in this post? That seems to be an accusation that you just pulled out of your ass.

  11. brianpansky says

    @7

    i think maybe you thought PZ was trying to say that people who are believers can NEVER do good within their churches etc. or something.

    please note that there is an important problem, that is nearly the opposite of that. organizations of believers are (too often) assumed to be OBVIOUSLY good as a result of their religious nature.

    this “a priori” idea that ‘faith is good’ is a problem. and i think it is an integral part of faith itself. thus “machinery of faith” in the original post.

  12. raven says

    So that’s how religious fantasies directly harm people…

    And here is another and common one.

    Quote from the Christian American Patriots Militia Facebook page I would be very surprised, if Obama does not leave Washington DC today (Nov. 19th) … never to return, if he is not dead within the month.”
    This is slowly making its way around the net. Everyone is wondering when DHS will pick them up.

    Christian Militia Claims ‘Authority’ To Shoot And Kill Obama:Nov 23, 21013 spl. org

    Wilhelmsen’s post says the president’s “willful violations and alienation of our Constitution, constant disregard for our peaceful protests and corruption of all the three branches of government, (i.e., rogue and illegitimate government), reveal the dictator that he is. Obama and his co-conspirators disrespect our Constitution (constitutional rule of law) and abuse the American people.”

    It continues: “The authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution: He is levying war on the United States and aiding and comforting our foreign enemies – the 2nd Amendment gives us the right and duty (authority) to engage an enemy of the United States that does so with the design to reduce us under absolute Despotism. I would be very surprised, if Obama does not leave Washington DC today (Nov. 19th) … never to return, if he is not dead within the month.”

    Wilhelmsen is listed as the administrator of the Christian American Patriots Militia. Its Facebook page says it has 1,405 members, who operate as a “closed group.”

  13. David Marjanović says

    “With or without religion, good people do good things, and evil people do evil things. For good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    That’s not true for most definitions of religion, many other ideologies will do; once people believe there’s something worth killing for, they will kill. But it’s close enough.

  14. robro says

    I know I’m little late on this one, but yesterday I received the new issue of Scientific American that includes a 12 page “Special Advertising Section” on…Kentucky! The article that threads through the ads is titled, “Kentucky: Racing Ahead in Innovation.”