ICC Note: The founder of Answers in Genesis (AIG), a ministry focused on the apologetics of biblical creation, Ken Ham, has filed a lawsuit against state officials in Kentucky on the account of religious discrimination. The state recently initiated an incentive program titled the Tourism Development Act which gives new attractions in Kentucky a partial refund of the sales tax in order to promote tourism. Though AIG was initially approved for the refund for its upcoming Genesis-themed amusement park, the decision was reversed after public complaints from atheist organizations.
By Heather Clark
02/04/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – Ken Ham, the founder and president of the biblical creation and apologetic ministry Answers in Genesis (AIG), will file a federal lawsuit this week against officials in the state of Kentucky for denying its upcoming Ark Encounter participation in the state’s sales tax rebate incentive program.
In a video released on Tuesday, Ham spoke with Freedom Guard attorney Mike Johnson about the suit, which surrounds its soon-coming amusement park based on the Book of Genesis.
As previously reported, the state of Kentucky has an incentive called the Tourism Development Act, where new attractions in the state can receive a partial refund of the sales tax paid in an effort to reward organizations that help increase tourism.
AIG was initially approved for the rebate, but following outcry from atheists and church-state separation groups, the decision was overturned. State officials say that the hangup they have over allowing the rebate under the tourism incentive is that the Ark Encounter is religious in nature.
“In writing and in in their public comments, they have said that the reason they have trouble with this project and this economic incentive application is because of its religious overtones and its religious message and viewpoint,” Johnson explained. “And that’s what makes the state’s action unconstitutional.”
He outlined that the federal courts have ruled that once a benefit is made available by the state to all within its borders, it cannot legally refuse an applicant simply because of their religious character or beliefs.
“It’s very well established and federal and state law that religious organizations get to be treated just like any other in a program like this,” Johnson advised. “When you have a facially neutral tax incentive program that the government effectively opens to all applicants, just because an applicant happens to be religious does not mean that they can … be excluded from the program just because of their viewpoint.”