"While cutting education, Kentucky gives $43 million tax break to creationism theme park"
In December, I reported that the Kentucky creationism theme park set to open in 2014 will “include dinosaurs.” The park “will feature a 500-foot-long wooden replica of Noah’s Ark containing live animals such as juvenile giraffes.” It will also include “a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits.”
TPM “” the source of this photo illustration — called it the “Park of the Covenant.”
Now the park has been granted $43 million in state tax breaks. At the same time, “the state has gone through eight rounds of budget cuts over the past three years,” including cuts to “education at all levels” and a pay freeze for all teachers and state workers.
The National Center for Science Education has said of creationism that “students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.”
Think Progress has more details on the state support, which raises questions about the separation of church and state:
A group of private investors and religious organizations is hoping to build a Bible-themed amusement park in Kentucky… Their effort got a shot in the arm yesterday when the state approved $43 million in tax breaks for the project. In addition to the tax incentives, approved unanimously by the state’s tourism board, taxpayers may have to pony up another $11 million to improve a highway interchange near the site.
Naturally, this raises serious questions about the separation of church and state. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has threatened to sue the state over its promotion of the religious project:
“The state of Kentucky should not be promoting the spread of fundamentalist Christianity or any other religious viewpoint,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Let these folks build their fundamentalist Disneyland without government help.”
Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has been a strong proponent of the $150 million project, even holding a press conference at the Capitol yesterday to tout the state’s involvement. Saying there’s nothing “remotely unconstitutional” about taxpayers incentivizing the Ark park, Beshear said, “The people of Kentucky didn’t elect me governor to debate religion. They elected me governor to create jobs.” Daniel Phelps, a geologist and president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, called the governor’s support of the proposal “embarrassing for the state.”
Beyond constitutional issues, the tax breaks for an amusement park come at a time when state leaders are asking residents to sacrifice as they cut important social programs….
And while developers say the economic benefits of the Ark park will make up for the cost of the tax breaks “” pointing to Kentucky’s recently opened Creation Museum “” not all are convinced. Indeed, after lengthy consideration, Tennessee declined to give tax breaks to a similar proposed project, Bible Park USA, concerned that it was not a sound investment of taxpayer dollars.
Perhaps proponents of taxpayers subsidizing Bible theme parks forgot the gospel of Matthew, who wrote, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
And folks wonder why China and other countries have surpassed us in clean energy, while we remain stuck on dinosaur fuels!