Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter Theme Park is having troubles again, and now they are suing the state of Kentucky for what they say is religious discrimination.
Here’s what’s going on: Ark Encounters wants tax breaks, but, they were denied $18 million in tax incentives by the state of Kentucky because they only wanted to hire Christians. Which is, you know, definitely not legal for a for-profit corporation.
Answers In Genesis, the project’s proprietor, claims that refusing these tax incentives means that the state is discriminating against their religious beliefs as Christians:
After Kentucky granted preliminary approval in 2014 for AiG to receive a rebate of some of the new state sales taxes the Ark will generate after it opens in 2016, secularist organizations exerted tremendous pressure on state officials to rescind the approval. Anti-Christian groups objected to AiG’s statutory right to limit its hiring to people of the Christian faith, and to the content of the messages that will be presented at the Bible-themed park. Bowing to this pressure, state officials (including Gov. Beshear) announced a reversal on December 10, 2014. Included as defendants in the lawsuit are Gov. Beshear and Robert Stewart, Kentucky’s Secretary of the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet.
So basically, they are saying they are being discriminated against by not being allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices, and by not being given money to do so. Which is not a real thing. Title XII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits for-profit companies from hiring people based on their religion–for the most part.
You could discriminate, ostensibly, if expertise in that religion was part of the job description. So, say you had a Mormon website, you could certainly only hire Mormon writers to write for it–but, you couldn’t refuse to hire non-Mormon web developers or ad sales people specifically because they were not Mormon. Dig? Either way, you probably wouldn’t get special tax incentives for your Mormon website, because our government is not in the business of promoting religion. Operating a ferris wheel, or what-have-you, does not require a doctorate in theology.
It’s not discriminatory to not allow a company to discriminate. It’s not discriminatory to not allow discrimination. That’s not a thing. Just like “tolerating” someone’s “intolerance” isn’t a thing–which is why it’s doubtful that this lawsuit will have any success.