Nobody calls Kentucky Christians wimps … least of all New Jersey.

I was confused last week when the Letter to the Editor below arrived at the Cynthiana Democrat. It was critical of our Kentucky legislators and admonished Kentucky Christians for not reacting at the state’s refusal to grant tax incentives to a development group that wanted to only hire professed Christians at their tourist site.

To the editor:

Where are the Christians? How come they are sitting by watching the Kentucky legislators renege on their rebate incentive program offered by the state’s tourism office with Answers in Genesis’ theme park, the Ark Encounter.
If AIG doesn’t get thrown out of this agreement with Kentucky, then they are required to hire atheists and all sorts of non-Christians to work at their theme park. That’s like hiring an atheist as your head pastor.
What’s wrong with you Christians in Kentucky? That wouldn’t even fly in New Jersey. There would be a flood of people in the streets before we would let that happen. AIG wouldn’t be able to give the Gospel at the Ark theme park  either.
What’s wrong with your Kentucky legislators? Don’t you know that AIG is a Christian organization? What do they expect?
You Kentucky Christians are looking like wimps. Stand up for yourselves. Get out there and demand that your legislators do what’s right instead of bowing to pressure by atheist groups outside your state.
We here at the Creation Science Hall of Fame are hoping that we could construct our building somewhere between the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. Just think of the revenue these projects will bring to the state of Kentucky. Your gas stations, lodging, stores and restaurants would be booming  with tourists.
Get with it, Kentucky. Do what is right and don’t be afraid  to give an answer for your beliefs in our Lord.

Nick Lally, Chairman,
Board of Directors
Creation Science Hall of Fame
Tranquility, NJ

Thank God for you, Nick Lally, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Creation Science Hall of Fame in Tranquility, New Jersey, for showing me the tough, no-nonsense side of my brother New Jersey Christians.

For those readers who are not aware, the Answers in Genesis (AIG) group, which is responsible for the Creation Museum in Erlanger, Kentucky, is breaking ground on a new tourist attraction, the ARK project, which will be a representation of Noah’s Ark. The ARK project will be a little closer in design to a Disney-influenced amusement park. However, the installation, located about 10 miles south of the museum in neighboring Grant County, will also be an extension of the world view represented by the Creation Museum. The organization also has developed a hiring practice of asking potential employees to not only be Christian, but also to accept their cosmological view of the beginnings of our Universe to the rejection of rival theories of evolution and other heresies.

Now, I was aware of the decision by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to turn down a tax rebate application from the Answers in Genesis (AIG) group for their multi-million dollar ARK project in Grant County because the organization was using discriminatory hiring practices and it was espousing ideas that ran counter to the separation of state and church.

I was also aware of the highly coordinated outcry and protests from AIG when their application was denied.
One wonders how much AIG spent on the billboard advertising alone. I find it quite an odd reaction from a group so concerned about losing money when the cabinet’s decision just cost them an estimated $18 million in tax incentive money, according to the news coverage from the Courier Journal.

But this letter wasn’t from the AIG.
It was from the Creation Science Hall of Fame?
Who are these guys?

Well, I haven’t had much time to do any deep digging on the group. But it wasn’t hard to come up with one fact that sheds light on the keen interest the Hall of Fame had in AIG qualifying for a tourism cabinet tax incentive.
The following is from their website: www.creationsciencehalloffame.org.
“We will build the Hall of Fame as a brick-and-mortar structure in northern Kentucky, between Answers in Genesis’ Creation Museum and the new Ark Encounter park.
We also expect all creationists to support this project collectively and with neither bias nor regard to politics or past disagreements.”
Such erudition on the website is quite a contrast from the tone of the letter from the Hall of Fame’s board of directors’ chair.
In response to the reasonable expectation that qualifying for state tax incentives require non-discriminatory hiring practices, Lally writes, “…They [AIG] are required to hire atheists and all sorts of non-Christians to work at their theme park….What’s wrong with you Christians in Kentucky? That wouldn’t even fly in New Jersey … You Kentucky Christians are looking like wimps…”
Lally’s tone sounds, to my ear at least, like some ridiculously cheesy New Jersey goombah stereotype — which is not helped by the fact that New Jersey’s governor is none other than good old fence-riding Chris Christie.
Of course, Lally is attempting to raise the hackles of a particular brand of Kentucky Christian: those that subscribe to the organization’s purported philosophy and world view.
Since this is also a non-profit company that’s looking to piggy-back their planned tourist attraction onto AIG’s Northern Kentucky Creation Science wonderland, I am naturally skeptical of the purity of their faith.
But that’s the journalist in me.
As the letter is addressed to Kentucky Christians in general, and since I consider myself an ardent member of that group, I am moved to respond to Mr. Lally’s challenge.
It should be noted, however, that I do not entirely subscribe to the world view that the Creation Science Museum champions.
Nor am I much bothered by it either.
My faith is based on being raised from infancy in the United Methodist Church, on a critical study of the Bible’s Old and New Testament teaching (NIV and King James versions, mostly) and a personal relationship that I have developed with Jesus Christ and God.
It has nothing to do with anyone else’s relationship with the Almighty and it certainly doesn’t extend toward helping a private developer earn millions in tax incentives while engaging in practices that run counter to state and federal laws regarding discrimination.
Why worry about hiring atheists anyway?
If the Christian mandate is to win new souls to Christ, would not the act of exposing doubters to the tenets of our faith not increase the likelihood of a conversion?
It’s been known to happen in my neck of the woods, Mr. Lally.
Personally, I think the greater act of a wimp is one who prefers preaching to the choir than to the unconverted. I won’t even mention profiting from it and claiming income tax exemptions based on religious grounds.

Or maybe I just did.
This Kentucky Christian does not fear atheists and I have serious doubts that they’re likely to take over the world any time soon. Although, with the major Abraham-based religions at each other’s throats almost constantly, they could probably win the globe by attrition alone.
But with regard to the point of view expressed in the letter last week, I have but one concern. It has been my experience that the act of demonizing a group of people in order to get a tax break is, in itself, the act of a demon.

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