It's back now with a scaled-back version and has received preliminary approval for $18.25 million in tax incentives, or 25 percent of the total project cost, from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.This is the second “letter” that I have seen excoriating the project developers for their hiring practices in absence of any hard information on what those hiring practices are. The first one came from AU. There is no link to such an article. Patheos also got on the band wagon and, in absence of any hiring practice documents, wrote:
That's in addition to the 75 percent break in property taxes over 30 years that the city of Williamstown has awarded the project, the $11 million interchange upgrade the state has agreed to at the KY-36 Williamstown exit off I-75, and the $200,000 the Grant County Industrial Development Authority gave to keep the project there, along with 100 acres of reduced-price land.
Please, this has got to stop, as it should when the Tourism Development Finance Authority meets to consider final approval.
There have always been serious questions about whether granting tax incentives to a religious theme park violates the principle of separation of church and state, as Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo has asserted.
But even that question is overshadowed by the recent news that the organization which gave rise to the project, Answers in Genesis, requires job applicants to profess that homosexuality is a sin, the Earth is 6,000 years old and the Bible is literally true.
However, it does not matter that the Ark Encounter has not written its hiring policies yet because that does not excuse discrimination.What discrimination? Without written hiring practices how can there be discrimination? Perhaps even more damning is that the link in Patheos is to an outdated copy of the job announcement which makes no mention of any religious requirements whatever.
But, even if there were hiring practices, Ham makes an even better point:
It is true that AiG, just as AU, is a 501c3 organization that receives tax deductible donations. And AiG, like AU, has the freedom because of the Statement of Faith of the organization to require employees to adhere to that statement. I’m sure AU wouldn’t want to employ a biblical creationist like me as its head, and AiG wouldn’t employ an atheist!He is likely correct and I suspect that the kerfuffle over the hiring practices is simply a smokescreen in a larger attempt to forestall the building of the ark. If Ham is correct, and they are the same sorts of organizations, then AU needs to address the perceived issue. And if Kentucky.com is going to complain about these hiring practices, it needs to actually produce them.