Answers in Genesis (AiG), an NRB Member, is celebrating an important religious freedom victory. While AiG’s Ark Encounter theme park, set to open later this year, would likely otherwise be considered for a state tourism tax incentive, officials in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) had blocked AiG from applying because it was a religious organization. However, a federal judge thwarted that move this week by granting AiG an injunction. Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled "that the Commonwealth's exclusion of AiG from participating in the program for the reasons stated – i.e., on the basis of AiG's religious beliefs, purpose, mission, message, or conduct, is a violation of AiG's rights under the First Amendment to the federal Constitution."
“NRB celebrates this victory,” declared NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson. “We must not allow governments to take dangerous steps down the road of discrimination. People should not be pushed out of the public square simply because they wish to live out their faith in everyday life. I commend Answers in Genesis for standing strong for freedom!”
At issue is a state rebate program intended to incentivize the development of tourist attractions in Kentucky. Essentially, a site could qualify for a refund of a portion of the sales taxes it generates after opening. The court’s injunction against former Governor Beshear’s decision allows to AiG’s Ark Encounter, which will feature a full scale recreation of Noah's Ark, to apply.
Ken Ham, President of AiG, observed, “The law is crystal clear that the state cannot discriminate against a Christian group simply because of its viewpoint, but that is precisely what happened here. The decision today is a victory for the free exercise of religion in this country, including in hiring."
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: January 29, 2016