Target: Rick Skinner, Mayor of Williamstown, Kentucky
Goal: Call on the mayor to withdraw tax incentives his city has offered a religious theme park with discriminatory hiring practices
The biblical story of Noah’s ark has inspired several themed attractions, including the Ark Encounter currently under construction in Kentucky. Ark Encounter was awarded millions in tax incentives and road improvements and was even able to purchase land at a discounted rate, according to TruthOut. But these generous gifts are now in question, putting the park itself at risk. The reason? Employment contracts created by Ark Encounter are in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
Answers in Genesis (AiG), the organization at the heart of Ark Encounter, is requiring all potential employees to sign a Statement of Faith. Church and State reports that the contract requires such shared beliefs as: “that homosexuality is a sin on par with bestiality and incest, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and that the bible is literally true.” Apart from its obvious bigotry, this Statement of Faith attempts to discriminate based on religion. Officials in the city of Williamstown, Kentucky (future home of Ark Encounter) have put on hold several tax incentives previously offered due to concerns with these hiring practices.
Adding insult to injury AiG is appealing the decision, arguing that the organization’s right to free speech would be violated if it is forced to amend its hiring documents or else lose the valuable tax breaks. Essentially AiG is claiming to have a “religious liberty” right to taxpayer dollars–which is preposterous. Call on the city of Williamstown to permanently withdraw all tax incentives and other gifts pledged to support Ark Encounter.
Dear Mayor Skinner,
Answers in Genesis, the organization behind Ark Encounter, has refused to provide a written assurance that it will not discriminate against potential employees based on their religion. Unless a person considers homosexuality comparable to sex with animals he or she can’t hope to get a job with AiG. Why should the diverse taxpayers of Williamstown gift Ark Encounter with millions in tax incentives when many of them would, illegally, be turned away from employment there?
People are entitled to their beliefs–including members of fundamentalist Christian groups like AiG. Forcing these beliefs on people in a discriminatory fashion, as the group is clearly trying to do, is another matter entirely. I call on you and your colleagues in the city of Williamstown to permanently withdraw all tax incentives and other gifts offered to support Ark Encounter. Please invest these resources in your city and its people rather than in this bigoted organization.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dorin Coltofeanu via Wikimedia Commons