Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has thrown his support behind Ark Encounter, a Christian theme park that enforces the biblical interpretation of history, specifically the Noah’s Ark story. Ark Encounter will feature a replica of the Ark and the Tower of Babel, among other biblical attractions.
The park is planned for northern Kentucky. Beshear called it a “big deal,” and said the $150 million park is likely to create 900 jobs.
The park’s developers (Ark Encounters LLC and Answers in Genesis–the group behind the Creation Museum) are seeing tax incentives to build the park, saying it will ultimately bring money to the commonwealth. As Tony McVeigh reports, Beshear has promised the developers incentives, and says the government assistance does not violate any laws.
We have reviewed this from a legal standpoint and the application complies with our laws. There is nothing even remotely unconstitutional about a for-profit organization coming in and investing a $150 million to create jobs in Kentucky and bring tourism to Kentucky.
Louisville attorney David Tachau, who successfully sued over a state appropriation for a religiously affiliated pharmacy school, said he would have to further research the issue.
“It certainly sounds as if the mechanism for supporting a particular religious dogma would violate the establishment of religious prohibitions in the state and federal constitutions, but there may be slippery ways this could pass muster,” he said.
Edwin Kagin, a Northern Kentucky attorney who is also the national legal director for the group American Atheists, said it doesn’t appear to him to violate the law. If other projects with religious themes could qualify for the tax incentives, the law doesn’t discriminate.