Tax Credit Denial for Noah’s Ark-Themed Park

A battle over a Noah’s Ark-themed amusement park in Kentucky could end up in federal court.

A religious group called “Answers in Genesis” (AIG) is threatening to sue over the Kentucky Tourism Board’s refusal to allow tax incentives for the building of a theme park inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

The park, which is expected to cost about $172 million, will include a 510-foot wooden ark.

AIG was counting on building the park, which they claimed would create hundreds of much-needed jobs in the area, with the help of an estimated $18 million in tourism tax credits. But the state of Kentucky denied it, citing concerns over the group’s allegedly discriminatory hiring practices.

“Answers in Genesis started to say that to work there you had to have certain religious beliefs, you had to agree with them on how to interpret the Bible, you had to agree with them on creationism, you even had to agree with their views on homosexuality,” said Robert Boston, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear put out a statement explaining the decision. “We expect any entity that accepts state incentives not to discriminate on any basis in hiring,” he said. “While the leaders of Ark Encounter had previously agreed not to discriminate in hiring based on religion, they now refuse to make that commitment and it has become apparent that they do intend to use religious beliefs as a litmus test for hiring decisions. For that reason, we cannot proceed with the tourism incentive application for the Ark Encounter project.” Full Story.