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Kentucky Shocked Creationist’s Tax-Funded Ark Museum Will Discriminate On Basis Of Religion

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Ken Ham, president of a Christian ministry and the Creation Museum got millions in tax-break assurances from Kentucky, but now the State is shocked that he plans to discriminate based on religion. Will those tax breaks disappear?

Ken Ham recently made headlines when he debated evolution with Bill Nye, “the science guy,” at Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky. Depending on your point of view, Nye won, or Ham won. But in another sense, Ham was the winner because Nye has been much more of a household name, for decades, than Ham.

Until now.

Born in Australia in 1951, Ham is a “young earth creationist” who believes the earth is just 6000 years old and everything anyone needs to know can be learned from the Bible — actual science, he insists, is misleading and wrong. He is the president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian Ministry that runs his Creation Museum, and soon — or, soon he had hoped — Ark Encounter, a Noah’s Ark museum to be based in Kentucky, too.

But as The New Civil Rights Movement reported this summer, Ham’s detractors found that the Ark Encounter, unlike the Creation Museum, isn’t a Christian ministry, and that’s creating a legal employment rights problem for Ham.

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority has already approved millions in tax breaks. It first gave Ham $173 million in tax breaks, which he ultimately declined because he was having funding problems. Then, he asked for $73 million. Finally, the State approved $18 million. Until now.

“The Commonwealth doesn’t believe that Ark Encounter, LLC will be complying with state and Federal law in its hiring practices,” Bob Stewart, secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, wrote to an Ark Encounter attorney, according to the Courier-Journal.

Stewart wrote that “serious concerns” were raised by a job posting for an Ark Encounter position that required applicants to provide salvation testimony, a creation belief statement, and agreement with the “Statement of Faith” of Ark Encounter’s parent organization, Answers in Genesis.

Indeed, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, Daniel Phelps, the president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society and vice president of Kentuckians for Science Education wrote an op-ed in which he details the issue. “On the day the tax incentives were recommended, the Answers in Genesis website had a help-wanted advertisement,” Phelps explained.

The job description included this statement: “Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.”

Ham claims that the Ark museum will be run separately and differently from the Creation Museum. 

But job postings at Answers in Genesis include this statement: “All job applicants for the non-profit ministry of AiG/Creation Museum need to supply a written statement of their testimony, a statement of what they believe regarding creation, and a statement that they have read and can support the AiG Statement of Faith.”

The AiG Statement of Faith claims “it is imperative that all persons employed by the ministry in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to our Statement of Faith, to include the statement on marriage and sexuality, and conduct themselves accordingly.”

It also requires all employees to believe and support “the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge,” and the “66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.”

And that’s just for starters.

Meanwhile, after several warnings in the media, the State of Kentucky is finally getting the message.

“The Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC,” Tourism secretary Bob Stewart wrote. “The Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring.”

Over at Slate, Mark Joseph Stern writes that Ham is “surprisingly bad at his job,” while calling him a “professional charlatan” who “began selling junk bonds“ to keep the Ark project afloat.

One voice has been conspicuously absent from the debate over Ark Encounter’s intolerance: that of Christian conservatives. They have spent the past several years loudly and unceasingly condemning what they view as discrimination on the basis of religion. An anti-gay CEO voluntarily resigns from a private corporation following public pressure? Religious discrimination. An anti-gay Christian college group loses state funding for refusing to accept those who don’t follow its creed? Religious discrimination. A financial firm sends out a diversity survey to its employees that mentions sexual orientation? Religious discrimination. Some conservatives have even argued that the marriage equality movement turned America into a “totalitarian system” where animosity toward religion is mandatory.

Yet in none of these examples did any actual religious discrimination occur. No employers have fired their employees for holding anti-gay religious beliefs; no colleges have expelled students for finding homosexuality immoral. Meanwhile, a shockingly brazen form of religious discrimination is occurring in Kentucky right now, as Ark Encounter asserts its right to discriminate against people who are not young-Earth creationists while receiving state funds.

The government shouldn’t be in the business of religion, and that includes financing religious projects — especially anti-science ones.

 

Image via Ark Encounter

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RACISM A FEATURE NOT A BUG FOR GOP

McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

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“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”

After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.

McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.

In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.

It did not go well.

The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.

One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”

The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.

Here’s what some are saying.

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ANALYSIS

‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help

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While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.

Some of these tactics were highlighted analysis by Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler and on the Democracy Docket website.

Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.

“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”

He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”

Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”

But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.

Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”

Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”

On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:

After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:

Image via Shutterstock

 

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RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY

Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University

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Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.

“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.

But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.

“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”

“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.

“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.

The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply  damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”

Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.

In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.

“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.

But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.

“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

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