Ken Ham is responding to recent criticism for his Ark Encounter park, saying that ‘secularist attacks’ are unfounded. His new billboard campaign is centered around letting liberal opposition know that they can’t sink his ark, and telling the public that, despite statements from the state’s tourism board, Ham never intended to use tax money for his project.
Ham blogged on Tuesday, explaining this year’s new billboard campaign. Ham says he’s getting criticism for it, from Christians and non-Christians alike, but he stands by his message.
“We want to inform [media, secularists, and Christians] with the correct information about the Ark project and undo the propaganda campaign of the secularists (who have had the ear of much of the media as they spread their misinformation).”
The billboards read as follows.
“To all our intolerant liberal friends: Thank God You Can’t Sink This Ship”
The “propaganda campaign” Ham is talking about is public discussion of his Ark Encounter park. It’s intended to be a park centered around a life-sized ark, in the vein of Ham’s Creation Museum, to share his beliefs about Noah and how he might have fit all the animals on his ark. The problem with this is that, according to public understanding at least, Ken Ham is requiring job applicants to sign a statement of faith, attesting that they share his belief in Young Earth Creationism. As a private business, a certain amount of religious discrimination may be protected, but if he’s using government funds to do so, a problem arises.
In Ham’s new post, he explains that the billboard campaign is intended to draw attention to the falsehoods in this claim. He’s not denying that he intended only to hire those who share his beliefs, though. Instead, Ken Ham says that he never intended to use tax dollars for his project.
“Even some well-meaning Christians have asked me why we are using tax dollars to build the Ark — when no such thing is happening! They have swallowed the lies of the secularists.”
That would seem to be belied by the fact that, according to WBKO, Kentucky’s Tourism Secretary, Bob Stewart, has denied Hams’ park a tax break. Stewart says that the project was initially floated to him as a tourist attraction, but appears to be more Christian outreach and that tax breaks intended for tourism cannot be used for what he calls religious indoctrination.
It’s not clear why the Tourism Board would need to send a letter to Ken Ham’s lawyer explaining that, because Ham isn’t honoring an agreement not to use discriminatory hiring practices, the tax break is denied if Ken Ham was, indeed, not seeking tax incentives for his park, though.
In fact, in July, Ham’s site carried a blog post about his request for these same tax incentives. In an August post, Ken Ham’s own website further argues that Ham’s receipt of tax breaks for the Ark Encounter park would benefit the state.
Even in these arguments, Ham clearly admits a desire to receive those tax breaks — until yesterday. Perhaps Ken Ham is attempting to argue that receiving a tax break, essentially a permission to keep some of the dollars he would have owed in taxes to use on his project instead, is somehow something separate from using tax dollars for his project? It’s not quite clear.
Either way, as things currently stand, Ken Ham is right about one thing: whether or not he intended to, he won’t be using Kentucky’s tourism tax breaks to support his project, because his request has been denied.