Over the weekend, an Op-Ed ran in the Lexington Herald-Leader pointing out some potentially discriminatory employment requirements for Answers in Genesis' Ark Encounter, being built in Kentucky -- especially given the fact it may receive $18 million in tax incentives from the state.
The Ark Encounter is being built by creationist organization Answers in Genesis, which also runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky. The basis of their beliefs is that the Earth is 6,000 years old -- a notion rejected by an overwhelming majority of the scientific community. The plan is to build a full-size ark, based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood.
The issue is that this clearly religious organization has been approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for a great deal of state money. Yep, this religious group has received preliminary approval for an $18 million tax incentive. The reasoning, according to this Op-Ed, is that the building of Ark Encounter will create jobs.
However this Op-Ed points out some kinks in this reasoning. Daniel Phelps, a geologist, president of the Kentucky Paleontologist Society, and vice president of Kentuckians for Science Education, pointed out:
"However, it is apparent that Ark Encounter is likely to discriminate against non-Christians. Moreover, Catholics, mainstream Protestant Christians and some conservative Christians who have different doctrinal beliefs are also unlikely to be hired.
The job description included this statement: 'Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.'"
The entire job description requires a salvation testimony, a creation belief statement and a confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith. That "Statement of Faith" includes these items.
"Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God."
Along with this:
"The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God"
"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information."
Requiring agreement with this statement, seemingly means that there could be employment discrimination against non-creationists, LGBTQ persons, atheists or others who don't believe the statements in the "Statement of Faith." The entire statement can be read here.
As Phelps put it: "The tax incentive, along with the city tax breaks, and the parcel of land sold to the project at a discount by Williamstown, plus $200,000 cash given by the Grant County Economic Development Commission is clearly a case of government entanglement with religion."