Tax breaks pulled from 'Ark Encounter' project - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Tax breaks pulled from 'Ark Encounter' project

Kentucky has pulled its offer on tax breaks for a theme park that would feature a 500-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark called the ‘Ark Encounter'.

Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, says the tax breaks have been withdrawn because the theme park is no longer keeping its commitment to not discriminate in the hiring process for the park.

“We expect any entity that accepts state incentives not to discriminate on any basis in hiring,” Beshear said. “While the leaders of the ‘Ark Encounter' had previously agreed not to discriminate in hiring based on religion, they now refuse to make that commitment.”

The park is being built by the same ministry that operates the Creation Museum, the nonprofit subsidiary, Answers in Genesis.

When the park opens in 2016, 'Ark Encounter' expects to employ around 900 people.

[Read: State Letter on Ark Encounter]

Beshear goes on to say that it has become apparent that the ‘Ark Encounter' will use religious beliefs as part of the criteria during the hiring process, thus not allowing the theme park to receive the tourism incentive application.

Mike Johnson, Chief Council for Freedom Guard, believes the ‘Ark Encounter' should still be allowed to receive the tax rebates.

“The position of Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter project is that they just want to be treated like everyone else,” Johnson said. “There is no reason that a religious organization should be treated any different.”

According to the Associated Press, the theme park originally received approval for up to $18 million in tax reductions.

"It's well established in federal and state law in Kentucky, as in every other state, that religious organizations are permitted to give employment preference to members of their own religion," Johnson told FOX19 NOW.
When asked by FOX19 NOW both Johnson and Beshear believe the theme park will continue construction.

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