June 2016 Church & State - June 2016

Ky. Provides More Public Benefits To Ark Encounter

  AU admin

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved $18 million in tax incentives for Answers In Genesis’ Ark Encounter theme park in April.

Former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) had opposed granting incentives to the park, but Answers in Genesis filed a lawsuit claiming the state’s refusal violated its religious-freedom rights. In January, a federal court agreed, and Be­shear’s successor, Matt Bevin (R), announced he would not appeal the ruling.  According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bevin also packed the tourism board with new appointees after taking office.

“The ark park has been a constitutional mess from start to finish,” Americans United Senior Litigation Counsel Greg Lipper told the Courier-Journal. “The previous governor was correct in declining to fund it. The court decision seemingly requiring funding made a serious error of constitutional law. It is unfortunate that the new governor declined to appeal that decision.”

Also in April, the Kentucky General Assembly voted to build an improved road interchange near the park, an upgrade worth about $10 million.

The Ark Encounter is slated to open on July 7. Job listings available on its website require applicants to submit a “salvation testimony” and believe in creationism.

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