Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is an organization well known in the U.S. AU has launched various lawsuits in its ongoing war on Christianity in America.
Over the years, AU has publicly denigrated Answers in Genesis, our Creation Museum, and the future Ark Encounter. Its articles and blogs about us are replete with deliberate misrepresentations (often worded in such ways that the unwary reader will be led to a false conclusion) or outright lies. Most recently, inaccurate claims from AU relate to the funding of our full-size Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky (south of Cincinnati). (For more information on our evangelistic Ark Encounter project, visit ArkEncounter.com.)
Rob Boston of Americans United recently wrote a blog post titled “Good Incentives Gone Awry: Kentucky Officials Are Adamant About Propping Up The ‘Ark Park.’”1 I can only conclude from reading this blog post that AU deliberately wants readers to jump to a wrong conclusion: that money is being taken out of Kentucky’s treasury and away from state programs in order to help build the Ark. When the blogger uses words like “taxpayer” money, it’s his intentional effort to give the impression that Kentucky taxpayers are helping to build the Ark. In actuality, the only people involved in this incentive/refund are visitors to the Ark who pay sales tax when they come to the Ark. That is, after it is open—i.e., sales tax collected from people who choose to visit the Ark (the majority of whom will be from outside Kentucky). No unwilling taxpayer is helping to construct the Ark Encounter.
AU is being quite intentional when it fails to explain the true nature of the sales tax refund.
AU is being quite intentional when it fails to explain the true nature of the sales tax refund. By omitting key information, Boston—who should know better—wants readers to arrive at a false conclusion. Find out the truth about the sales tax refund—which is performance based—in this well-researched article written by a constitutional lawyer.
Let me partially document AU’s history of misrepresenting not only the Ark Encounter project, but also AiG and the Creation Museum. On June 2, 2014, Simon Brown, assistant director of communications at AU, wrote an item titled “Sinking Ship?: Creationist Ministry Continues To Over-Promise On Ky. ‘Ark Park.’”2
In this article, Brown claimed, “All told, various government entities in Kentucky have planned to give the Ark Park, which was originally supposed to cost about $175 million, an astounding $100 million (or more) in various types of public support.” It is a ridiculously inaccurate charge. It’s so far from the truth that either Brown has no understanding of the government programs involved, or, like his colleague Boston, is deliberately misleading people into believing untruths.
Brown also stated, “There is also some mystery surrounding the $62 million in municipal bonds that supposedly rescued Ham’s project. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported in January that while $26.5 million in bonds had been sold, the city needed to sell an additional $29 million by Feb. 6 or else those who already bought bonds would be able to collect on their investment immediately.”
But there is no mystery. Now, it is a little complicated, and the underwriter told us that we could not say anything about the private bond offering when it was being presented. (You can read this article to at least get a partial grasp of the bond offering.) While the city did issue the bonds on our behalf through an underwriter, the Ark Encounter is totally obligated for the bonds (no government entity is obligated).
No money to build the Ark will be coming from taxpayers.
Brown further claims, “In February Ham proclaimed, ‘Let’s build the ark.’ Let him build it if he can, but with money AiG raises on its own.” If Brown had done any research at all, he would have known that AiG is raising all the money for the Ark project. No money to build the Ark will be coming from taxpayers. None, zero, zilch! Actually, I could hardly find anything in his article that resembled the truth. AU is becoming better known for writing fiction concerning the Ark Encounter as opposed to reporting on it.
In August 13 last year, Sarah Jones, a Communications Associate at AU, wrote a scathing article against the Creation Museum. She regurgitated the myth originated by secularists who were hoping to undermine the Creation Museum, claiming that the museum was failing with dropping attendance and revenue:
Ham is entitled to evangelize however he wants, but he’s not entitled to tax breaks to help fund his fundamentalist roadside attraction. And if he’s concerned about dwindling numbers, maybe he should be honest enough to admit that what he’s pushing isn’t science, it’s typical biblical fundamentalism. Maybe, just maybe, the reason for the museum’s drop in visitors isn’t poor marketing. Maybe the anti-intellectualism Ham peddles is finally losing its cultural sway. That’s my hope. And if that’s the case, even fancy zip lines won’t be enough to save the Creation Museum from itself.3
Jones has a clear agenda: attack the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter because they teach a Christian message. AU’s modus operandi is to misinform people, erect straw men, and tell outright untruths. On my Facebook page yesterday, I noted, “Visitors continue to pour into the Creation Museum, as they have done since the opening year. We have even seen some record days in 2014 since opening in 2007.”
There are other AU articles about our ministry I could quote. However, if I quoted AU’s many claims and then corrected them, this web article would run several thousand words!
If we had a writer on staff who showed such a disregard for the truth and conducted poor research (even to the point of making things up), that staff member would be let go for incompetency!
If AU had any regard for the truth, it would retract its false claims and explain the true nature of the sales tax refund.
If AU had any regard for the truth, it would retract its false claims and explain the true nature of the sales tax refund—namely, that no money is coming out of the state treasury to build the Ark! But as people who reject God as the absolute authority, their standard for what is truth is what they determine it to be. They essentially make up whatever they want.
It’s important for the public to understand that when Americans United and similar anti-Christian groups launch lawsuits in regard to Christian matters, it’s because they want their anti-God religion imposed on the culture. They are intolerant of any Christian message in the culture that stands on the truth of God’s Word.
Will AU ever tell the truth about the Ark Encounter? It probably will not happen until its leaders bow the knee to the One who said, “
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).4