Does ‘religious liberty” include the right to tax subsidies?

ark-encounter-1

Artists’ rendering of Ark Encounter

If you want to know where Georgia may be headed in its debate over a “religious liberty” bill and related issues, look northward to Kentucky.

Answers in Genesis, an evangelical Christian organization that believes in the literal Creation story in the Bible, wants to build a major theme park in northern Kentucky, complete with a “life-size Noah’s Ark” and other features, to tell their side of the story.

That is absolutely their right. However, AiG is also demanding that the state of Kentucky cough up $18 million in tax incentives to help finance its “Ark Encounter” project, and that’s where the trouble starts. In December, Kentucky announced that it was rejecting AiG’s application for tax incentives, and AiG announced this week that it will file suit in federal court to overturn that decision.

“Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary,” AiG President Ken Ham said in a release. “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 towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant.”

Let’s start the debate by pointing out that tax money and tax incentives shouldn’t be used to promote or advance a particular religious faith. I’d like to think that’s a bedrock principle that most Americans still support, although these days even that might be considered controversial in some quarters. Answers in Genesis has tried to sidestep that particular issue by noting that its “Ark Encounter” subsidiary is a for-profit entity, a commercial enterprise that just happens to use a religious theme to draw visitors. Thus it is eligible for economic development assistance just as a waterpark, baseball stadium or other tourist attraction might be.

Treating a religious-themed park differently than a secular-themed park would be illegal discrimination against religion, they claim.

Unlike a church, however, a waterpark, baseball stadium or other secular business is by law forbidden to discriminate in who they hire. Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or Zoroastrian — everybody has an equal right to work. Answers in Genesis, however, wants to hire only evangelical Christians, and more specifically only evangelical Christians who are willing to sign a statement that confirms their faith in the literal story of Genesis.

AiG claims it has a right to discriminate on the basis of religion because — surprise!! — they are a religious institution performing a religious mission. “Nobody seems to want to force the group American Atheists to hire Christians (and we do not advocate it),” as AiG executive Mark Looy wrote in a recent article.

You probably see the problem here. When AiG is trying to qualify for tax incentives, it demands to be treated as a business endeavor just like any other. When it comes to abiding by the same employments laws as other business endeavors, it demands to be treated as a religious institution that is exempt from such laws.

And if you argue with either claim, you are persecuting Christians.

It’s important to point out that in demanding access to state tax incentives, AiG cites Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Bluegrass State’s version of legislation now being proposed in Georgia. Kentucky’s version of RFRA was passed in 2013, over the veto of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. According to AiG’s legal counsel, under that state law Kentucky has “no legitimate reason or interest” in preventing religious-based job discrimination even in a project financed in part through state tax incentives.

That’s where we’re going in all this.

Reader Comments 0

980 comments
GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

This is not an overwhelmingly Christian nation, if it was 1 in 5 children would not be hungry today.


If we were a Christian country, the disabled would not have to worry about losing their social security benefits because they have been judged and punished by "Christian" legislators who have painted all disabled beneficiaries as cheaters.


if we were a Christian nation, we would have done something about the 20 small children who were murdered by a madman with a gun. We would have actually put money towards helping the mentally ill instead of just talking about them.


If we were a Christian nation, our Christian legislators would not constantly beat the war drums.


If we were a Christian nation, more of the Christian commenters on Jay's blog would not be so rude, condescending, judgmental, and hypocritical.


If we were a Christian nation, there would be Fox News, which is owned by foreigners. The "patriots" who watch support Saudi Arabian royalty and Rupert Murdoch, the Australian.


We do not live in a Christian nation.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@AyeAyeSir

Yeah, what do you make of that? 

Sounds like just more evidence of a pro-war, militaristic attitude gone berserk among our mainstream media, no? 

JamVet
JamVet

@AyeAyeSir 

Just doing his Bill "I was in a firefight!" O'Reilly imitation!

And as I remember, you being the paragon of even handed integrity, of course, flamed Billy O'Loofah for that outright lie.


LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

See I told ya. Putin just stumbled on Crimea like it was Christmas morning. 

He clearly is and was the aggressor here. And he maybe be brought up on war crimes.

***

I notice you completely ignored what I said about the people of Eastern Ukraine and the choices they faced, with a central government in Kiev refusing to hear of their wishes for some equitable federalist arrangement for sovereignty, instead sending gangs of armed thugs to attack them and shelling their cities.

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

Why anyone would want to be a police officer in today's environment is beyond me.  Just one more thing to put an officer's life in danger. People who have never faced that split second decision have no clue.


NBC NEWS:


"Police in Ferguson, Missouri, will begin testing a "less lethal" gun attachment on Thursday that would hurt suspects but not necessarily kill them. If the attachment is formally adopted, Ferguson's would become the first police department in the country to use the technology, manufactured by Alternative Ballistics of California, NBC affiliate KSDK reported. "It gives you just one more opportunity to neutralize the subject without killing him," Mayor James Knowles III told the station. "But we also can't guarantee that they wouldn't be killed."        


The attachment is placed on the barrel of the gun, and when the weapon is fired, the exiting bullet embeds itself into an alloy projectile. That projectile would "send a shock wave of pain through the suspect without the internal damage that a penetrating bullet would cause," according to Alternative Ballistics.


Critics of the technology say it puts officers' lives in danger."






http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/ferguson-police-begin-testing-less-lethal-gun-attachment-n300711

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

I see UncleSamantha still struggles with following Jay's instructions regarding the caps lock.

SimpleTruths
SimpleTruths

Another day dawns bright in Atlanta.  I guess life has we know it hasn't ended due to a Republican controlled Congress.

UncleSamantha
UncleSamantha

DON'T FRET


THE LIBERALS ON THIS BLOG


REPRESENT ONLY A TINY FRACTION OF AMERICA


THIS NATION


IS OVERWHELMINGLY


CHRISTIAN


LOL


SO YES


WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION

JamVet
JamVet

@UncleSamantha 

LIBERALS REPRESENT ONLY A TINY FRACTION OF THE FEDERAL PENITENTIARY POPULATION IN THIS NATION


IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY CHRISTIAN

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

Karak, Jordan (CNN):  "Two days after news emerged that ISIS had burned a captive Jordanian pilot to death, the Middle Eastern nation hit back with airstrikes targeting the terror group -- following through on its vow of "earthshaking retaliation."

Jordanian fighter jets returned from their mission and flew over the home of the slain 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, in the village of Ay in Karak."

CommonSenseisntCommon
CommonSenseisntCommon

Seriously a pending at Kyle's for 3 hours LMAO


He is phoning it in these days If you haven't noticed :-)


And people say Jay isn't inquiring.

AyeAyeSir
AyeAyeSir

ABC:  "Texas Executes 'Texas 7' Prison Escapee for Officer's Death"


"A three-time convicted robber who helped engineer the biggest prison break in Texas history was executed Wednesday evening for killing a suburban Dallas police officer while the notorious gang was on the run.


About two dozen police officers stood at attention outside the Huntsville prison. Several supporters of the slain officer were on motorcycles outside, and as Newbury was taking his final breaths, the roar of them revving their engines could be heard inside the death chamber."


http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/texas-prison-escapee-convicted-killing-officer-set-die-28716268

gadem
gadem

@AyeAyeSir That's some good news on this cold Thursday morning.

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

@AyeAyeSir

Capital punishment is barbaric.  We are better than that.  

And lest you think this is in any way condoning what the executed did, it isn't.

gadem
gadem

@jaysbehind @Tiberius-Constitutionus @AyeAyeSir Religion isn't the problem. Some people are inherently evil and barbaric. Christians kill, Muslims kill, Jews kill, Mormons kill, Buddhist kill, and so on and so on. The tenets of any religion is peace.

gadem
gadem

@Tiberius-Constitutionus @AyeAyeSir The criminals were barbaric. The punishment fit the crime. There are and always will be evil people in this world. The quicker we can rid the world of evil/selfish people the better off civilized society will be.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@AyeAyeSir @gadem 

Personally I never really got that part - if someone dear to me was dead, then bottling up [rage, sadness, hatred, whatever] until someone else was dead, and that would somehow make it better...

If it works for you, then I'm happy for you, I guess.  I guess I just wouldn't want to give a murderer that much control over me and how I feel.

UncleSamantha
UncleSamantha

@Tiberius-Constitutionus @AyeAyeSir


NOTICE HOW QUIET IS THE FEEBLE LITTLE LIBERAL MIND


WHEN THE TOPIC OF OBAMA KILLING INNOCENT MUSLIM WOMEN AND CHILDREN


WITH DRONE STRIKES


THEY MUST BE SUNBATHING


ON THE BARBARY COAST


LOL

straker
straker

Lenin


Please furnish HARD evidence that we are continuing to arm ISIS.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@straker There is none.


However we know Putin is arming Ukrainian rebels


He will deny that. That one lives in a fantasy world. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@straker

Why would it be incumbent on me to provide "hard evidence" of an operation which has by definition been carried out covertly from the beginning? 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar @straker

Rebels? 

You're already buying into the Western narrative. 

The people in E Ukraine weren't 'rebels' or 'separatists' to begin with as they wanted to remain in Ukraine, but when Kiev and its backers refused to even hear of negotiating with them over any kind of federalism or devolution, instead sending gangs of armed thugs to attack them and shelling their cities, they did what I would assume you would do in the same situation: they took up arms to defend themselves and their families.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@LeninTime @HeadleyLamar @straker Rebels? 

You're already buying into the Western narrative.


See I told ya. Putin just stumbled on Crimea like it was Christmas morning. 


He clearly is and was the aggressor here. And he maybe be brought up on war crimes.





LeninTime
LeninTime

@kayaker71 

We have to stay involved in the ME and confront any threats that would close off our oil supply.  ISIS has already taken a large area in Syria, the same in Iraq and now Yemen

***

That's a really doltish thing to say. ISIS are such a presence in Syria because WE AND OUR SAUDI ALLIES FUNDED AND ARMED THEM THERE! 

And we're CONTINUING to do it.

Could you get that through your thick heads? 

Guess not.

jaysbehind
jaysbehind

How come our tax dollars can go go to a new Falcons & Braves stadium but not a theme park designed to promote Christian history?


Just askin...


You people..

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@jaysbehind How come our tax dollars can go go to a new Falcons & Braves stadium but not a theme park designed to promote Christian history?


When the Falcons or Braves start making people sign a document saying they are Christians and believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible you will have a point. 

jaysbehind
jaysbehind

@JamVet @jaysbehind I didn't say I did spammy. But I don't mind money going to a theme park about history that my kids could enjoy.


You people hate history.... 

JamVet
JamVet

@jaysbehind 

So you like paying the tax tab for the billionaire communist owners in professional sports!

GFY! (Good for you!)