Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham revealed that his organization is filing a lawsuit against Kentucky for denying the Ark Encounter theme part participation in the state's tax rebate incentive program. AiG is arguing that the refusal is based on religious discrimination against the creationist group's beliefs.
"Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary," Ham said in a statement on Tuesday. "However, the state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court. This is the latest example of increasing government hostility toward religion in America, and it's certainly among the most blatant."
AiG also accused Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear for backing this refusal, even though he originally expressed support for the Ark Encounter project.
Scheduled for a 2016 opening, the project seeks to build a life-size replica of the biblical Noah's Ark.
Kentucky officials initially offered $18 million for the project in tax breaks, but then retracted the offer over AiG's intent to show religious preference in its hiring.
Ham previously argued that it was pressure from atheist groups that forced Kentucky to go back on its offer, and said that the state has known from the very beginning the religious nature of the project and AiG's plans.
"The state granted its preliminary approval for the incentive. Only after the atheist groups objected and publicly attacked the state's preliminary approval, did the state renege on its commitment," Ham said in December.
"AiG, as a religious organization, has the legal right to hire people who believe in our Christian faith," he added.
The AiG president, who also leads the Creation Museum in Kentucky, spoke out against media reports that said his organization had asked for money to build the ark.
"AiG had reapplied for a possible refund of sales tax that would be collected at the finished ark," he explained.
"If the ark would see excellent attendance, and some of the sales tax paid by guests who were voluntarily visiting could be refunded, up to a maximum. It's actually an excellent incentive offered to any tourist attraction thinking of locating in Kentucky."
AiG's latest press release features a video where Ham provides further details about the case. Attorneys Mike Johnson of Freedom Guard and Nate Kellum, chief counsel of the Center for Religious Expression, will be providing legal services to AiG during the case.