Proposed Ky. ‘Ark Park’ Engages In Religious Employment Discrimination

Policies That Promote Bias Should Disqualify Attraction From Receiving Tax Incentives, Church-State Watchdog Says

A proposed theme park based on the story of Noah’s Ark discriminates in employment in favor of fundamentalist Christians and should be ineligible for tax incentives from the state of Kentucky, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, the group wrote, “Per the required Statement of Faith, an applicant must profess, inter alia, that homosexuality is a sin on par with bestiality and incest, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and that the bible is literally true in order to be considered for the job.”

“Ark Encounter’s participation in the tax incentive program would compel taxpayers in the state to support both religious discrimination and a religious ministry,” the letter noted.

Ark Encounter is a project of Answers in Genesis, a fundamentalist Christian organization that promotes creationism. The Kentucky Board of Tourism recently granted preliminary approval for the park to receive tax incentives. It is the second time the park has received approval for the benefits; it was forced to resubmit its application after failing to meet earlier funding deadlines.

“This is clearly a sectarian project, and it has no business receiving any assistance from the taxpayers,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United’s executive director. “Tax-subsidized jobs should not be limited to certain types of extremely conservative Christians. Unless you’re willing to adopt fundamentalist Christian views, you might not even be able to get a job slinging hot dogs at Ark Encounter.”

In Friday’s letter, Americans United urged the state to deny the park final approval for the incentives. The group previously urged the park be denied the incentives because it is intended to proselytize.

According to the project’s own website, “the purpose of the Ark Encounter is to point people to the only means of salvation from sin, the Lord Jesus Christ, who also is the only God-appointed way to escape eternal destruction.”

“State tax subsidies should not be used to support religious discrimination or proselytization,” said Americans United Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser. “The state aid sought by the Ark Park would do exactly that. It should be denied.”

The letter was prepared by Luchenitser and AU Steven Gey Fellow Charles Gokey.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.