Ark Encounter Founder Threatens To Sue State Over Denied Tax Funding

Though Ken Ham earlier this week denied that he had any intentions of using state tax revenue to fund his Ark Encounter park, today the man behind the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis says that he’s considering litigation against the state for refusing him that same funding. In a blog post Thursday morning, Ham spoke of the Ark Encounter and why he believes he’s been a victim of discrimination.

On the Answers In Genesis blog, Ham posted the following:

“Kentucky officials recently announced a great disappointment to the Ark Encounter project. As we state on our news release for today, ‘Bowing to pressure by secularist groups outside the state, Kentucky officials announced late Wednesday a decision to deny the Ark Encounter theme park an opportunity to participate in a popular tax rebate incentive program offered by the state’s tourism office.'”

The Ark Encounter has been a subject of controversy all along, with many suggesting that it was inappropriate for a religious institution to receive tax dollars for the purpose of furthering a specific religious belief, but it was only after discriminatory hiring practices came to light that the state made a move.

Learning that Ark Encounter applicants were required to submit a statement of faith, swearing that they held the same beliefs as Ham, the state Tourism Board reversed their decision on allowing tax breaks to fund the project. Now Ham says that it’s discrimination for the Ark Encounter to be refused tax rebates on the basis of Ark Encounter, in turn, refusing to hire people who don’t adhere to Young Earth Creationist beliefs.

In his press release, Ham says that the Ark Encounter team is looking into litigation.

“Our construction has already begun at the Williamstown, Kentucky, site, and it must proceed. We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization. Two public interest law firms, Freedom Guard and the Center for Religious Expression, have agreed to represent AiG in the matter.”

He again denies that tax money would have been used to build the Ark, saying he would have only benefited from tax revenue that Ark Encounter would have provided for the state. According to Slate, though, part of that agreement was based on Ham’s promise that Ark Encounter would create 600-700 jobs. If those jobs are limited to those who share Ham’s beliefs, government funding becomes problematic — it would fall under the heading of government creating public benefits available only to members of one religious group or identity.

Ham says that his legal team is reviewing all options, and will make an announcement within the next several days about whether Ark Encounter will become embroiled in a lawsuit against the state.

[Photo credit: John Scalzi]