Noah’s PArk?


Kentucky Grants Creationist Theme Park $43M In Tax Incentives
David Taintor | May 20, 2011, 12:52PM

… The theme park — dubbed Ark Encounter — is backed by both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Answers in Genesis, a Christian organization that also built a similar attraction, the Creation Museum.

“This was the last real hurdle for us as far as I’m concerned,” Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, told the Associated Press.

The tax incentives could subsidize up to 25 percent of the project. …

Unless Kentucky’s state constitution is drastically different from most… not impossible, and I simply don’t know… there are serious issues with this decision. If I lived there, I guarantee you I wouldn’t see this undeniably religion-specific venture as a valid expenditure of my tax money. YMMV.

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  • Kay Dennison  On Saturday May 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I am a practicing (renegade) Catholic. That said, when I have said that I have been met with the response: “Well, I’m a Christian . . .” at which I want to grab the offending party by the throat and ask what the hell they think I am. One of the reasons I am quick to say that is because I don’t want to be associated with the nut jobs associated with the Reckless Right. I practice my faith my way, and to be honest, I think that’s how most people practice whatever faith they espouse. That said, I have a serious problem with this ‘project’ receiving ONE NICKEL of public funding.

  • Kay Dennison  On Saturday May 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    And damn, I went to high school with a little short kid nanes Mike Zovath . . . hmmmmmmmmm

    • Steve  On Saturday May 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Kay, there is a genuine constitutional question here. Everything depends on whether the org behind this park is a bona fide religious organization under the meaning of the First Amendment. If it is, it should NOT be taxed… but neither should it benefit alone from having no tax burden. E.g., a park called Allah’s Paradise should receive comparable tax breaks. How likely is that?

      OTOH, if the park charges admission and won’t admit people for free, if its proprietors take in a substantial profit over time, if that profit does not go to charities or back into the “church,” one could make an argument that it is a for-profit business, which should be taxed like any other business.

      Time will tell, but I rather suspect that this place is NOT about the prophets of old, but rather about new profits.

  • Kay Dennison  On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 12:36 am

    No pun intended, of course! LOL

  • MandT  On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I believe all Churches should be taxed.

    • Steve  On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      MandT, our nation’s founders crafted a bargain with formal religions: churches did not get involved in governmental (political) matters, and in exchange, government kept its hands off churches, which of course meant not taxing them, as well as not designating an official state religion (“an establishment of religion”). Personally, I cannot imagine a better relationship.

      But of course when I participate in formal religion at all, it is as a member of a distinct religious minority, and it doesn’t surprise me much that some of the larger Christian denominations claim they should receive special governmental treatment on a “majority rules” basis… forgetting all too conveniently that “majority rules” never applies to fundamental rights in a democracy.

  • Kay Dennison  On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    LOL Steve, so I thought!

    @mantD: How would that work with deductions IRS allows for donations to churches? My church does a lot for our community.

    • Steve  On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Kay, I know your question is aimed at MandT, but I thought I’d have a go at it as well.

      My church does a lot for our community.

      As do most churches. The restriction of separation of church and state is at least as much for the protection of religions as for the isolation of government from direct religious influence, a fact which many of today’s fundies seem not to understand, or at least are unwilling to admit. Basically… for the good of church and state alike… government may not intervene in behalf of or in opposition to a particular religion, or in favor of or opposition to religion in general as opposed to the absence of religion (i.e., the First Amendment also protects atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc.).

      Think it through. Anything less than this constraint leaves churches vulnerable to all kinds of external influence, by government or by the (hypothetical) established religion. Anything less, in other words, is bad for religious freedom.

      That doesn’t stop some religious org’s from attempting to put their oar in where it doesn’t belong. Sad to say, IMHO, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is one of the worst about such intervention.

  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I’m definitely a First Amendment kind of gal. I don’t think the Bishops are any worse than the those on the Reckless Right (who are so stupid that they don’t consider Catholics as Christians) with their you-know-what. I’m against religious discrimination/intervention from any flavor of religion. I think religion or lack of it is a very personal, hands off matter.

    • Steve  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      Kay, the Council of Catholic Bishops still regularly tries to intervene in secular law. Here’s an example from January:

      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will soon be issuing guidelines on what constitutes preventive care for women. Groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Family Research Council and Alliance Defense Fund are trying to stop HHS from including birth control on the list of covered preventive services.

      And this, from last December:

      This issue came to the nation’s attention when a hospital in Phoenix, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, provided a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four children who was dying from pulmonary hypertension and was 11 weeks pregnant. (We’ve previously blogged on this issue here and here.) Last week, the Bishop in Phoenix threatened to strip St. Joseph’s of its status as an official Catholic hospital unless St. Joseph’s agreed to sign a written pledge that it would not perform another life-saving abortion. The diocese made good on that threat yesterday, and stripped St. Joseph’s of its endorsement after the hospital defended its actions.

      And on and on and on…

      When the formal organization of a mainstream religion decides on religious grounds to intervene in the application of secular law to individuals, it deserves to be slapped down… hard. Sorry; we may disagree on this one, but I am not backing down. The law has to apply to everyone. The Catholic Bishops are not empowered, in America at least, to make the laws, any more than, say, the Unitarian Universalist Association would be.

  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    That’s no worse than the anti-choice faction or assorted factions of any of the right wing’s religious fanatics. Why am I, a true freedom of religion girl constantly under attack by the RR and atheists? It’s like both sides are attacking or trying to convert me when I really don’t give a damn what any of y’all believe — the only path I have to follow is my own and you might recall that I am a renegade Catholic and really don’t pay much attention to what Rome says and at this late
    date, I doubt that I ever will.

    • Steve  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Kay, this is NOT about the “anti-choice faction or assorted factions of any of the right wing’s religious fanatics.” Rarely do the churches sponsored by those factions engage in direct political threats in their roles as religious org’s… which is precisely what the US CCB does.

      America as a society has freedom of religion ONLY because religious org’s do not participate directly in government. Want a counterexample? Try Italy. Do you want parish priests censoring movies for all of us, Catholics and non-Catholics alike? And the US CCB would do exactly the same, I am certain, if they could get away with it. Sorry; not on my watch.

      I don’t think I said ANYTHING about your right to your personal beliefs. You have that right, more or less unconstrained. The formal structure of the Catholic Church is another matter. If they seek actively to intervene in the application of secular law in America, they assume a position of power that should concern every American.

      We now have six (6) out of nine (9) Justices on the Supreme Court who are Catholic. Does that make me nervous? Damned right it does! Why? because the US CCB is so frequently directly involved in matters of application of secular law. This has nothing to do with what good people individual Catholics are… of course many of you are fine people. But the CCB is a secular power center, and like any other power center, it bears watching… closely.

      What happens when the US CCB orders the Catholic members of SCOTUS to vote a particular way on a particular case, or risk excommunication? What then?

    • Steve  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Kay, I know I risk putting you off altogether by taking the tack I’ve taken. But I can’t not say these things. Your religion is no doubt admirable, based on where it has led you. That does not mean that the formal organization of your church… or mine, or anyone’s… should have a hand in running the government. That’s all I mean by this. In no way do I mean to denigrate your personal faith; that is yours and yours alone.

  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Ezcuse me? Did I say I thought ANY RELIGION should have a say in government? No I did not nor do I think they should. How many times do I have say that I support the First Amendment?

  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I give up!

  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Hell! Half the politicians I know are pro-choice — no matter what their religion and ask the average Catholic ( nobody worries about ex-communication anymore); the other half are Republicans.

    I’m divorced — all I was told was to go and sin no more.
    And yeah, I really listened to the last part. Not!

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

      Kay – I did not mean to imply that you personally are responsible for the failings of the Catholic Church, only that the Church bears much responsibility for many things the rest of us, and particularly women, have to face in our society. Believe me, you are one of the good gals in my opinion. If I have a problem with the Church, that problem does not extend to you, and I apologize if that is what came out of our exchange above.

  • MandT  On Monday May 23, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I was thinking in the back of mind about profits not related to charity or religious maintenance but schemes like Pat Robertson’s, which at one point was heavily invested in African blood mines, or the most recent example of the Comings ‘End of Days’ scam.

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

      MandT, Pat Robertson (I initially typed “Pot Robertson” and had to correct it) is a thoroughgoing hypocrite, and his blood diamonds are only one thing among many that lead me not to respect him at all.

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