Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kentucky Common Sense Part II

We might have an inkling of little kennie ham's next tactic to insure employees of the Ark Encounter Ministry toe the religious line WITHOUT damaging kennie's ability to siphon off state funds/tax incentives for his religion.  In addition to the news articles I mentioned there was one from that offered a bit more detail.  "Ark park hiring issue jeopardizes tax incentives" quotes Bob Stewart, secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, as saying:

"The Commonwealth doesn't believe that Ark Encounter, LLC will be complying with state and Federal law in its hiring practices" 
Pretty straight forward shot across kennie's bow.  Well aside from the letter from their lawyer (part I) which tried to claim the job posting wasn't for Ark Encounter Ministry -- which it obviously was -- Mike Zovath, a co-founder of Answers in Genesis said
" . . .the matter is still under discussion with cabinet officials."
"We're still in the negotiation with the state, saying why are you requiring us to do something you don't require other applicants to do? And why are you requiring us to give up our religious freedom and our religious rights to comply with an additional requirement that isn't in the state Tourism Act?"
Does the State of Kentucky allow other for-profit ministries asking for state funds/tax incentives to use discriminatory hiring practices?  I don't think so!  If the state funding and providing tax incentives to for-profit ministries was the normal course of business, kennie wouldn't have been concerned as all.  But I guess it's not, so kennie has to be a little worried that he might have to go back to his supporters for more money to keep his ministries open.

Another question is the State of Kentucky trying to deny them religious freedom or their religious rights? Not in the least!  There is nothing stopping kennie and his pals from building as many ministries as they want. What Kentucky is saying is that you have to fund your own ministries.  What religion right means the state is required to help fund your ministries?  None that I am aware of.  Zovath went on to say said:
"the state . . . wants Answers in Genesis, a recognized religious non-profit, to change our hiring policies for something that has no application to the Tourism Act. Answers in Genesis isn't asking for Tourism rebates, the Ark Encounter is."
OK, now I am confused.  First off, AiG does have discriminatory hiring practices, they are legal because federal and state law allows them to discriminate in hiring based on religion as a non-profit ministry.  That's not the issue and Zovath isn't denying the practice.  However, Zovath wants to use their non-profit ministry discriminatory hiring practices for their wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary and wants state money to help them in this endeavor.  Just to make sure we know what organization are what, the article also quotes Zovath as saying that Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter
"are two different organizations, two different operations that are wholly owned by Answers in Genesis."
Yea, that really clears things up.  AiG owns Ark Encounters so it's hiring practices should be allowed, and yet the non-profit owns the for-profit so state funds/tax incentives should also be allowed.  Do I see what looks like cherry-picking which laws should apply?

The second thing that struck me was " . . . has no application to the Tourism Act" comment.  Isn't tourism how kennie justified the request for state funds/tax incentives?  So why would the issue of approving the funding also fall under tourism?  

I still say "Good" on the State of Kentucky.  If kennie ham and Mike Zovath want a new ministry in Kentucky, fine.  Nothing is stopping them.  But they should not be asking for anything from the State of Kentucky in the way of funding or tax incentives to build it. 

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