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Ky. Noah's Ark Park Not Eligible for $18M in Tax Breaks

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 12, 2014 10:29 AM

A Noah's Ark-themed amusement park may have sprung a financial leak after being denied millions of dollars in tax incentives.

The Ark Encounter, a Genesis-themed attraction with a 500-foot-long wooden replica of Noah's Ark, was denied approximately $18 million in tax breaks from the state of Kentucky. Why? According to Think Progress, it may have something to do with refusing to comply with the state's existing nondiscrimination policies.

Why is the state giving the Ark park more than two of every legal problem?

Trials and Tribulations

This isn't the first time that Ark Encounter and its parent company Answers in Genesis have been tied in with state taxes. When the park was announced almost four years ago, MSNBC reported that it would be eligible for $37 million in state tourism incentives, despite worries that taxpayers were funding a religious theme park.

Fast forward to early October, when the park's president Mike Zovath let it slip that he only planned to hire creationists. Ark Encounter had received preliminary approval for $18 million in sales tax rebates over the next 10 years, but the Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet had warned Zovath that companies which discriminate on religious bases cannot receive these incentives.

And it turns out that the Cabinet was true to its word. In a letter, Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart noted that "[t]he use of state incentives in this way violates the separation of church and state provisions of the Constitution and is therefore impermissible," The Courier-Journal reports.

Chance for Redemption

Though the story of Noah's Ark stands for many as an example of God's mercy, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet may not be as forgiving. According to the Courier-Journal, Ark Encounter's application for the millions in tax incentives will not see the light of day without Stewart's approval.

So AiG is turning to the next highest authority, the federal courts. In a letter to the Cabinet on Monday, an attorney for Ark Encounter's backers stated that enforcing the state's nondiscrimination policy on the park would force it to "seek redress in federal court."

In the meantime, the AiG is busy setting up billboards like this one to combat myths about Ark Encounter.

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