Warmup act: The sky is falling.
In “From The Kentucky ‘Ark Park’ To Back-Door Creationist Legislation, Religious Right Forces Are Demanding State Support Of Fundamentalist Dogma, Rob Boston (Americans United for the Separation of Church and State Newsletter, July/August 2011) dispenses with nuances,
Attacking evolution means big money for the Religious Right. In Kentucky, a creationist ministry called Answers in Genesis opened the Creation Museum in 2007 at a cost of $25 million. Three years later, it had logged its one millionth visitor.
So is it any wonder that Kentucky, smelling more jobs and tax revenues, is eager to do business with the forthcoming Ark Park? Would Kentucky be better or more fairly governed if – absent of crime, sedition, or ethics issues – the government made the principals’ religious beliefs an issue?
The museum has been so successful that Answers in Genesis and some allied groups have proposed opening a theme park based on the story of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Ky. Despite the ministry’s dubious science – the group believes dinosaurs were carried on the ark and even says unicorns once existed – Gov. Steve Beshear has responded enthusiastically, promising a package of state tax breaks to bring the park to reality. In May, officials with Kentucky’s Tourism Cabinet voted to award more than $40 million in tax incentives to the “ark park” under Kentucky’s Tourism Development Act.
What? In seas of debt, the state government grabbed the rescue pole thrown out from the USS Solvency? Naw, couldn’t be.
Americans United spoke out against the deal, warning Kentucky officials that their state risks getting a reputation for being hostile to science. In addition, AU attorneys have filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking to see copies of documents related to the arrangement. They are investigating whether the aid package might violate the Kentucky Constitution.
Question: Wouldn’t it be more of a violation of separation of church and state if Kentucky made religious beliefs an issue when evaluating a business proposition?
Suppose I open a for-profit bed and breakfast here in downtown Toronto, with a Noah’s Ark theme, and give as one of my stated objectives: To introduce paying guests to the eternal truths of the Bible?
I’m up front about it, the business thrives, there are no complaints, all three levels of government get their cut fair and square, and I apply for a small business tourism tax incentive the year I expand into the eight-door motel down the road? Aren’t I just lucky that – to the best of my knowledge – there is no “Canadians United for the Separation of Church and State”?
If there were such a pressure group, I wonder how the people I was going to hire would feel if some upper crust AU clone put its fat collective foot in their job ops by nattering about religion – without offering anyone a cent, mind you, or creating any good or service?
As for the crowd supposedly defending “science,” let them raise an equivalent amount of taxable money and create an equivalent number of jobs in the same industry, and then the government should listen to them. About business, not about religious opinions.
Here’s a legal opinion from Discovery Institute.