Kentucky Withdraws $18 Million in Tax Breaks for Noah's Ark Theme Park

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Friday, December 12, 2014

Kentucky Withdraws $18 Million in Tax Breaks for Noah's Ark Theme Park

The state of Kentucky has withdrawn $18 million in tax incentives for the Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky.

Answers in Genesis is backing the $172.5 million project and is now looking at possibly suing the state over the reversal.

Previously, Answers in Genesis was granted preliminary approval for a state tax-incentive program. The program would have allowed the company to keep 25 percent of the sales tax collected at the theme park for 10 years.

After the approval, the Ark Encounter reportedly changed its hiring policy to select employees based on religion.

"State tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion," Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart noted in the letter. "The use of state incentives in this way violates the separation of church and state provisions of the Constitution and is therefore impermissible."

In return, James Parson, an attorney for Answers in Genesis, sent a letter to the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, arguing that the state’s demands on hiring policies violate state and federal law.

"If you insist on the newly imposed condition ... it will amount to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination and my client will have no choice but to seek redress in federal court," Parsons said.

Publication date: December 12, 2014