Ark Encounter tax incentives in jeopardy over alleged restrictive religious hiring practices

Posted Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:23 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Tax incentives for the Noah's Ark theme park in Northern Kentucky are in jeopardy over the state's concern about possible religious discrimination in hiring, records obtained by The Courier-Journal show.

Read more from The Courier-Journal.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 1:03 PM

Not sure how this will play out, but the complaint they have has to do with the hiring of people for Answers in Genesis. What I'm not sure of is the Ark Encounter a separate business entity?

Thursday, October 9, 2014 1:20 PM

American United, in a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear and members of the authority, said it was alarmed by a job posting on the Answers in Genesis website for a designer's job on its Ark Encounter project.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 4:49 PM

Maybe there's something I'm not understanding here, but whether or not the organizations are two totally separate entities or not shouldn't matter, should it? If they're both for-profit, they're not a religious institution; they're a business. Therefore, they can't be hiring people based on religious preferences. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:32 PM

"Religious freedom" has been expanded to mean a lot of things. Not so sure that it'll extend past the point of non-discriminatory hiring practices...

....but seriously, you can't blame them for trying.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 10:23 PM

Yes I can. Just like I could blame them for trying to not hire people of color. Seriously

Thursday, October 9, 2014 11:02 PM

I'm thinking I made a mistake submitting my job application picture while wearing my Darwin T-shirt.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 11:26 PM

What rollergator said.

Friday, October 10, 2014 7:59 AM

bunky666 said:

If they're both for-profit, they're not a religious institution; they're a business.

According to the article, Answers in Genesis is a nonprofit entity. But Hobby Lobby is a for profit corporation and the US Supreme Court held this year that it has some right to claim religious beliefs. Decision was pretty narrow and limited to closely held corporations. Not sure of AIG is one. And I doubt the decision would extend to hiring practices.

I wouldn't want to work for the entity or the project lest someone thing I agree with their views. Though I suppose walking around the park all day with a Darwin t-shirt might mitigate that issue. LOL

Friday, October 10, 2014 9:26 AM

The Hobby Lobby case centered more around what benefits they were required to offer based on the company's beliefs (which I still think is f'd up because companies aren't people). The company still can't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, etc.

Friday, October 10, 2014 10:36 AM

I noted that the Hobby Lobby decision was narrow and that I doubt it would extend to hiring practices (though having read some of the arguments raised by religious folks against same sex marriage, I wouldn't be surprised to see AIG raise it). I raised that case in response to bunky's statement that as for profit entities, AIG and Ark Encounter are businesses not religious institutions. One, from what I have seen AIG is a nonprofit. Two, Hobby Lobby is a for profit entity which was permitted to avoid complying with a federal law based on its religious views.

To me, the bigger take away from Hobby Lobby is its yet another reason we shouldn't be getting health insurance through our employers. If we weren't, the Hobby Lobby case (and others like it) never happen.

Friday, October 10, 2014 1:59 PM

"James Parsons, a Covington attorney representing Ark Encounter, responded to Stewart saying that the job posting that triggered Stewart's concern was not for Ark Encounter, but Answers in Genesis."

So, it wasn't for the Ark Encounter. It was for AIG, which as a non-profit religious organization. And they are allowed to make such requirements

Friday, October 10, 2014 2:14 PM

Not if they're running a for-profit venture that they benefit from.

Friday, October 10, 2014 2:44 PM

Zovath said Answers in Genesis and Ark Encounter "are two different organizations, two different operations that are wholly owned by Answers in Genesis." And he insisted that Ark Encounter will "follow all of the applicable federal and state hiring employment laws and practices."

This is what I mean as far as being separate business entities. Can Ark Encounter claim profit while AIG doesn't?

Friday, October 10, 2014 11:11 PM

If AIG hires a designer then puts him or her to work at the Ark, then why don't they just hire all the Lemon Chill guys and put THEM to work at the Ark, too? I guess I'd allow that a designer, or any other job like that, can be assigned work on other projects for the parent company as well. But, what other projects do they have?

It seems like a rather slippery way to make sure they exclude as many people who aren't of their beliefs as they can.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 12:49 AM

I'd respect Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis if they just stood up and said, these are our beliefs, these are the kind of people we want to employ, and we're willing to accept the consequences of our choices, however costly those may be.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 2:51 PM

I think the Hobby Lobby case set dangerous precedent in terms of equal employment opportunity as well. Yes, the type of benefits people receive at HL was the issue, but declaring that a corporation does not have to comply with certain federal laws due to a deeply held spiritual belief could, I'd imagine, snowball into other areas. Would they be successful in not hiring someone because that person is gay or an atheist without consequence? Probably not. However, it is more of a possibility now that corporations can impose religious beliefs on private medical care. I wouldn't be surprised at all if we see more issues like AiG/Ark in coming years, and we may not like what we see.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 3:12 PM

They don't have to not hire you because you're an atheist or gay. They can not hire you because "We interviewed many applicants, many of who are more qualified than you." or "we feel that you're overqualified for this position."

Saturday, October 11, 2014 3:48 PM

But I think the line is distinguished by systematically not hiring gays, atheists, goths, and other ne'er do wells (*wink*). If one individual isn't hired, there's little or no evidence that it was due to what I'll politely call a "pre-existing exclusionary criteria." If everyone looks and acts (and believes) like you've just walked into Stepford...then you might be breaking hiring laws.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 5:18 PM

In order to avoid taxation, this Christian company will be forced to go outside their comfort zone and comply with commonly accepted standards of human decency.


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