Kentucky Bible Park Merits Tax Incentives

by Lyman Stone

As many are aware, a group of presumably Christian investors, along with the organization Answers in Genesis — you know, the Creation Museum people — have begun the process of building a theme park centered around the first few chapters of Genesis, to be located in Northern Kentucky near the current Creation Museum.
According to a report by our state government, this $150 million investment will create over 900 jobs in a county with almost 12 percent unemployment. Moreover, the park is slated to receive up to $37.5 million in sales-tax refunds if and when it begins to generate tourism, moneys allotted to the park in a competitive process run by Kentucky’s tourism bureau. The exact same tax breaks are available to any large-scale tourism investment in Kentucky.

Those are the facts: a big investment in a Bible theme park receiving tourism tax refunds. There’s been a whole hullabaloo about those facts.

Many groups, such as the Lexington Herald-Leader and the American Atheists, and somewhat more recently Anderson Cooper, have indicated their disapproval of the tourism tax break. Apparently, the fact that the theme park expresses religious views renders any tax break for it unconstitutional, in the opinions of these esteemed and collegiate persons.

This is, of course, complete rubbish. No liberal-minded individual can reasonably suggest that a for-profit institution’s purpose, if it is a legal purpose (And creationism is still legal; sorry, Dr. Dawkins.) and if the institution otherwise meets all criteria for an initiative, should be denied due to the political or religious affiliations of the applying entity.

If there were, say, a Muslim theme park proposed which included a ride with a winged horse that has a peacock tail (hopefully our liberally educated campus will catch that reference) and its backers could demonstrate its economic viability, then it would merit a similar returns-based tax break. If an Atheist-land were proposed, wherein every attraction uniquely debunked some religious belief, and it could demonstrate its theme park’s economic viability, then it would also merit such governmental help.

The existence of an ideological viewpoint, in a just society, does not preclude the holders of that viewpoint from any legal civic participation, including large-scale economic activity within the boundaries of the law. In a statist society (such as that of the entire developed world), to achieve a perfect separation of church and state will necessitate the destruction of one or both: Churches cannot just hide from 30 percent of our economy.

It is not the government’s job to be the shield maiden of scientific thought. It is the government’s job to cater to the people in a constitutional fashion. If scientific thought cannot compete with religion in an open legal marketplace (which, of course, it can; concerned atheists should not worry that a “Tower of Babel” ride is going to convert the masses), then it deserves to die, and die it shall. Markets will eventually defeat government initiatives against them, every time.


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