February 2015 – Kentucky has been offering a tax rebate incentive to large-scale economic development projects for over two years. The idea is to encourage organizations and companies to build attractions that will bring tourists to the state, and the organizations can qualify for a rebate of some of the new tax dollars generated by their projects.
Answers in Genesis applied for and received approval for the rebate for building a theme park anchored by a full-scale ark in Williamstown, Kentucky. But state representatives sent AIG a letter in December that revoked the tax rebate for the religious organization unless it waived its right to include religious preference in hiring and affirmed a no proselytizing policy at the theme park.
AIG countered the state’s conditions and has gotten legal counsel from Freedom Guard and Center for Religious Expression. Mike Johnson, chief counsel of Freedom Guard, said, “No state is allowed to treat religious organizations less favorably than other organizations who seek to avail themselves of a facially neutral economic incentive program. Just because some state officials may not agree with the message of a Christian organization, that does not mean that organization and its members can be censored or treated as second-class citizens.”
Ken Ham, founder of AIG said, “We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance not only to us, but to every religious organization.”