Kentucky will not submit an appeal against Noah's Ark project over tax incentive
Jan 26, 2016 10:28 PM EST
Kentucky officials won't fight a federal court ruling after a religious group won a legal battle of the state's withdrawal of a potential tax incentive. On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said that the state will not submit an appeal against a Christian theme park which features a 510-foot-long Noah's Ark.
Gov. Matt Bevin, a spokeswoman of Kentucky Republican stated that the new governor's administration is pleased with the ruling of US District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove. ABC News reported that Judge Greg Van Tatenhove wrote in the ruling that Kentucky officials attempted to impose requirements on the Noah's Ark project that were not imposed on any other candidates for the incentive. According to the ruling, one of those stipulations contains a promise not to discriminate on the basis of faith or religion with job applicants.
The US District Judge also ruled that the religious group, Answers in Genesis can freely choose to hire individuals who adhere to certain religious beliefs while still being in compliance with federal and state law as agreed in the tax rebate program application. Think Progress reported that the state of Kentucky must give millions of dollars in tax subsidies to Answers in Genesis' Christian theme park which is owned by a creationist ministry.
Answers in Genesis group is also known for its Creation Museum. The museum is located also in Kentucky where Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. The museum includes children and dinosaurs roaming near the Eden's Rivers. In 2010, AiG began building another attraction called the 'Ark Encounter'. According to Newsweek, the money used to build the gigantic Ark came from donations of almost $30 million, and $62 million in high-risk, unrated municipal bonds backed by the theme park's future revenues.
Answers in Genesis acknowledged the US court's ruling as a victory for religious freedom. The tax rebate could be worth up to $18 million for Noah's ark. Despite federal lawsuits and other court battles, the construction of the Ark continues and is expected to open this July.
In 2010, the religious group received a letter from former Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart saying that the Christian theme park would be dropped from consideration due to the fact that it cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination. AiG then sued February in US District Court in Frankfort, which led to Judge Greg Van Tatenhove's ruling.