“Civilization transformed man from a food gatherer to a gatherer of pieces of paper: diplomas, employment contracts, money, etc.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana link
This past week I have been trying to concentrate as my roof gets replaced. I found a real nice group of people to do the work and they have made it as pleasant an experience as possible. I found this group through a combination of Angie's List, word of mouth and some helpful tips from Consumer Report. As I have complimented them on their work effort, they have complimented me as being "easy to work for." Strangely enough, it has been a decent experience and I have enjoyed getting to know them. Never once did I ask them for their "Christian" credentials.
Ken Ham, however, takes employment contracts to a whole nutha level! Frankly, I have been having a good laugh over this one. Ham is crying discrimination! The State of Kentucky is saying if "You want our money, you have to play by our rules." So, what is really going on?
According to an article in Slate, Ken Ham's Creation Museum has experienced diminishing income in recent years. He embarked on an effort to build an exact replica of Noah's Ark and include it in an amusement park of sorts, perhaps hoping to increase traffic. He has had trouble raising funds to build the park and has downsized his original plans.
Tax Incentives from the state of Kentucky
According to Slate, the trouble began when Ham accepted tax breaks from Kentucky.
Earlier this year, Kentucky’s Tourism Development Finance Authority gave preliminary support for $18.25 million in tax credits for Ark Encounter, citing Ham’s promise that the project would create 600 to 700 jobs. And that’s just for the first phase of construction; ultimately, the state could grant Ark Encounter up to $73 million in tax breaks.
According to the Daily Kos:
Besides the 510-foot replica of Noah's Ark, the Ark Encounter project is unique in that it has received: "preliminary approval for $18 million in state tax incentives to offset the cost of the park's construction; a 75 percent property tax break over 30 years from the City of Williamstown (a town of about 3,000 near where the park will be located); an $11-million road upgrade in a rural area that would almost exclusively facilitate traffic going to and from the park; a $200,000 gift from the Grant County Industrial Development Authority to make sure the project stays in that county; 100 acres of reduced-price land and, finally $62 million municipal bond issue from Williamstown that Ham claims has kept the project from sinking,"
Ham's alleged employment contract
Then Ken Ham's employment contract got leaked. Here is the purported list of Ham's requirements for anyone who steps foot on location to work on the project. This includes volunteers.
Slate, calling it a "four part theological declaration," says it includes:
- they have to believe in Christ,
- the Holy Spirit,
- Satan (as “the personal spiritual adversary of both God and mankind”),
- Adam and Eve,
- “the Great Flood of Genesis,”
- a 6,000-year-old Earth,
- the eternal damnation of “those who do not believe in Christ.”
- All employees must follow “the duty of Christians” and attend “a local Bible believing church.”
- They must oppose: abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, and trans rights.
The Daily Kos article noted a few more requirements that were posted, and then allegedly removed, from the Answers in Genesis website.
"Per the required Statement of Faith, an applicant must profess, interalia, that
- homosexuality is a sin on par with bestiality and incest,
- the bible is literally true in order to be considered for the job,
The New Civil Rights Movement blog elaborated on the requirements
But job postings at Answers in Genesis include this statement: "All job applicants for the non-profit ministry of AiG/Creation Museum need to supply a written statement of their testimony, a statement of what they believe regarding creation, and a statement that they have read and can support the AiG Statement of Faith."
The AiG Statement of Faith claims "it is imperative that all persons employed by the ministry in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to our Statement of Faith, to include the statement on marriage and sexuality, and conduct themselves accordingly."
It also requires all employees to believe and support "the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge," and the "66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science."
And that's just for starters.
Over at Slate, Mark Joseph Stern writes that Ham is "surprisingly bad at his job," while calling him a "professional charlatan" who "began selling junk bonds" to keep the Ark project afloat.
Kentucky halted funding upon learning of the AiG employment rules.
According to above Slate article:
Wisely, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, which oversees the dispersal of tax incentives, halted its funding after it saw Ark Encounter’s employment application. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that “the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC.” Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, “the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring.”
Ken Ham and Ark Encounter give what appears to be conflicting statements.
According to the above linked Slate article:
Mike Zovath, Ark Encounter’s executive director, told reporters that Kentucky was “requiring us to give up our religious freedom and our religious rights,” and denied the validity of the state’s concerns. Given that the tax credits are still subject to final approval—and that approval is contingent upon Ark Encounter not breaking the law—one might expect Ham and his cohorts to simply comply with the state constitution. But they seem committed to the belief that their religious freedom gives them a right to take state funds with one hand and push away non-Christians with the other.
Then Ark Encounter (the name of Ham's enterprise) appears to reverse direction. According to an Ark Encounter attorney, it was all a big misunderstanding. He claims that the "requirements" were only for Answers in Genesis employees but the state of Kentucky does not seemed convinced, according to the Courier-Journal.
James Parsons, a Covington attorney representing Ark Encounter, responded to Stewart saying that the job posting that triggered Stewart's concern was not for Ark Encounter, but Answers in Genesis.
Parsons wrote that Ark Encounter stands by its longstanding commitment to "comply with all applicable federal and state laws" on hiring and said that Stewart was adding a new requirement to Ark Encounter's application for tax incentives.
Not so, Stewart replied Sept. 4. "The Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC…" Stewart wrote. "The Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring."
However, a recent job posting appears to contradict Parsons' contention. (No relation to Dee-promise)
However, a current job posting on AiG seeks an “IT Solutions Developer” with exactly the same requirements.
ITEMS NEEDED FOR POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT
• Salary Requirements
• How you found out about this position
• Salvation testimony
• Creation belief statement
• Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith
In the same article, Ham claims:
… that AiG is well within its rights to demand such requirements because the tax incentives that Kentucky is granting do not apply to the building of the project, just to the sales tax after the park is open. He argues that they are not hiring for the open park yet, not even close.
“The tax rebate incentive only applies to a percentage of sales tax generated within the park after it’s opened and if and when it meets certain guidelines … we are [not] using a tax incentive to build the Ark … the tax incentive is a rebate after the project is built and operational.”
Once again, it appears to this observer that Ham is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Finally, according to Mike Tuttle
Ham is correct that the tax incentives are not, technically, the same as “using a tax incentive to build the Ark.” But to get his incentives after the Project is open, he may have made a deal with the Devil.
My prediction: This park is in big trouble financially. Ham is strapped financially so he will decide to play by Kentucky's rules. If he does, my friend who claims that Ham is all about the money, will be proven correct. So far it appears that no celebrity Christians, like those SBTS, have come to Ham's defense. Could it be that even they think these requirements are difficult to defend?
Lydia's Corner: Genesis 8:1-10:32 Matthew 4:12-25 Psalm 4:1-8 Proverbs 1:20-23