Answers in Genesis has announced today that they are suing the state of Kentucky for withdrawing a tax rebate. To make their case, they have released a long video featuring Ken Ham getting all the answers he wants from a lawyer wearing a greasy muskrat on his head.
The reason that Kentucky withdrew the tax exemption is that AiG refused to comply with state requirements. This was plainly stated by state representatives; they expected this “theme park”/”entertainment center” to abide by the same rules as any other commercial enterprise in the state.
We expect any entity that accepts state incentives not to discriminate on any basis in hiring. While the leaders of Ark Encounter had previously agreed not to discriminate in hiring based on religion, they now refuse to make that commitment and it has become apparent that they do intend to use religious beliefs as a litmus test for hiring decisions. For that reason, we cannot proceed with the tourism incentive application for the Ark Encounter project.
AiG’s defense rests on two points that were made repeatedly in the video. They claim that this is an act of discrimination against a religious organization because they are a religious organization, which is nonsense. Governor Beshear was practically frothing at the mouth in his eagerness to throw money at AiG when it was first proposed; he wanted to promote this so-called employment opportunity.
Their other point, even more frequently repeated, is that it’s not fair, that this program of tax incentives was an invitation to all businesses to apply, and they can’t discriminate against a religious organization. The lawyer said versions of this multiple times, even in response to a quote of the paragraph stating the state’s objections above:
It’s very well established in federal and state law that religious organizations get to be treated just like any other in a program like this.
Yes. They get to be treated like any other organization, which means that they also have to follow the same rules as any other organization. The problem is that they want a special privilege to avoid following some of the rules, so that they can discriminate in hiring. Stating like a mantra that they get to be treated the same as any other organization doesn’t sway me at all, because they are specifically demanding to not be treated the same.
There are rules. You want money from the government, you have to follow the government’s rules. Render unto Caesar, etc. Demanding exemptions isn’t an example of being treated equally…what next? Will you demand that the “museum” cafe be exempted from rules about employees washing their hands, because the Bible says nothing about germ theory?