You may be aware (it made international news a few weeks ago) that a US federal judge ruled in favor of AiG in its religious freedom lawsuit against the state of Kentucky!
State officials, including the previous governor, had denied AiG’s and the Ark Encounter’s right to participate in a state tourism tax incentive program available to all qualifying groups. The federal judge also confirmed that as a religious organization, AiG had a right to use a religious preference in hiring at the Ark.
It was a huge win for the freedom of religion in America and for the free exercise thereof.
It was a huge win for the freedom of religion in America and for the free exercise thereof. It was a major win for the US Constitution, the First Amendment, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its Title VII on hiring for religious groups. It was a huge win for Answers in Genesis and the Ark project, and it helps set a precedent that will be cited for years to come. It’s really a huge win for Christendom in America!
Don’t you like hearing good news for a change about religious freedom?
So why were so many of the Ark’s opponents shocked and dismayed with the judge’s sensible ruling? Not only were there the usual aggressive secularists/atheists who were stunned, but even some in the church decried the judge’s decision. They claimed the judge did not abide by the so-called “separation of church and state,” and/or that it was illegal for AiG to use a religious preference in hiring.
I have come to realize that many in the church and the secular world are suffering the consequences of a particular problem. Hosea 4 really sums it up with the verse that states that people suffer from a “lack of knowledge.” I have found that many do not have the knowledge they should about the US Constitution or the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
When discussing the state of the Western culture, I’ve often used the example from Joshua 4 of the miracle of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River and then building a monument of 12 stones. The 12 stones were meant to remind the Israelites to pass on the knowledge of God to the next generation. Because they failed to do so, the Israelites lost the culture in just one generation.
Not only has much of the church today failed to instruct the current generation on the things of the Lord as they should have, but many people in both the church and the secular world do not have an understanding of history. As a result, they may be doomed to make the same mistakes of the past. Ignorance abounds!
I’ll share some examples of this ignorance to highlight the lack of understanding.
In 2013, TheBlaze posted an article about college students having “an incredible lack of knowledge not only of the genocide of the Jews but of basic facts about US history and World War II.”1
In 2016, World magazine published a commentary warning, “There is a tendency to forget what happened in the past. We should learn from the past because we are likely to face the same tests past generations faced.” The piece went on to state, “College-age adults were asked, ‘Have you ever heard of Adolph Hitler?’ Most simply said, ‘No.’”2
In 2015, The Daily Caller published an article titled “US College Grads Know Nothing About The Constitution.” The article stated, “The American public continues to show a staggering level of ignorance about the basic principles of America’s Constitution and government, according to a new survey put out by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).”3
In 2016, CNN reported, “10% of college graduates think Judge Judy [reality TV star] is on the Supreme Court.”4
So many people are just ignorant of the law!
I could give you many more eye-opening examples. The reason I mention them is that we have the same sort of lack-of-knowledge problem in regard to the Ark project, the tourism incentives, and the employment rights of religious groups in America. So many people are just ignorant of the law! And they do not understand the US Constitution.
For instance, we’ve all heard the phrase “separation of church and state” uttered over and over again. But it’s just not in the US Constitution! The phrase is used by secularists and others to explain away the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Of course the First Amendment was written to prevent a state-sponsored church from being imposed on people, as it was in England. Actually, a form of state church is being imposed on our nation: our taxes are used to fund a public education system that by and large has imposed the religion of naturalism (atheism) on generations of students!
Now, the rest of the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Secularists often dismiss the phrase “the free exercise” of religion. They want to treat Christians as second-class citizens! Just because an organization like AiG is a Christian one, doesn’t mean it can’t receive a tax rebate incentive offered to any organization that will bring economic impact and jobs to a state. That’s what the Tourism Development Program in Kentucky offers.
We said all along that to deny AiG this right to participate is viewpoint discrimination and violates our First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. On the basis of the Constitution, the federal judge ruled that the state must allow AiG the opportunity for its incentive application to move forward. That’s what we expected would happen if a judge ruled according to the US Constitution and the law.
The judge stated in his ruling, “The Court finds the Commonwealth’s exclusion of AiG from participating in the program for the reasons stated—i.e., on the basis of AiG’s religious beliefs, purpose, mission, message, or conduct—is a violation of AiG’s rights under the First Amendment to the federal Constitution.”
The judge also cited Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his ruling he stated the following:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating because of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
He then added, “In order to protect the constitutional rights of religious organizations, however, Title VII has expressly exempted religious organizations from the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of religion.”
The judge then cited the exception found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which it seems most secularists and even many American Christians don’t even know exists):
This subchapter shall not apply to . . . a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities.5
The judge went on to acknowledge something we have never hidden, that “AiG is clearly a religious organization with a particular religious mission,” and “it can choose to hire people who adhere to certain religious beliefs while still being in compliance with state and federal law.”
Actually, the main reason that AiG filed the lawsuit was because we believed we had to make a stand for what this great nation has prided itself in—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the free exercise of religion. One of the reasons these constitutional guarantees are being undermined is that so many people (including many in the court systems) are so ignorant of what the Constitution and laws really say.
People need to be reminded of something else many have forgotten—the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
And just as Americans need to be reminded of the guarantees of the Constitution and the nation’s laws, so too do people need to be reminded of something else many have forgotten—the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
The life-size Ark that opens July 7 will be one of the greatest reminders on this planet of the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel. That’s why we stepped out in faith to build it. And the Lord has mightily blessed.
Because the Ark project has received so much attention—and several thousand people have already purchased tickets on the web for the daytime and nighttime entries for the first 40 days and 40 nights after we open—we believe it is more vital than ever that we ensure everyone has the opportunity to clearly hear the gospel message.
The gospel will be tastefully presented inside the Ark. Due to the anticipated huge flow of guests, we will be adding a separate 800-seat theater. It will also present the gospel message through the showing of a powerful video to our guests.
This multi-purpose theater will also provide a venue for special live animal shows and for me and our great speakers to give live presentations for our guests (as we do in the Creation Museum’s Legacy Hall).
The much-needed theater at the Ark Encounter and other enhancements (such as in public safety) will add $4 million to our previous $29.5 million donation goal. And I’m pleased to share that $1 million of that additional need has already been provided by generous supporters! You can follow the donation progress at ArkEncounter.com.
Finally, let me say thank you for your prayers. They helped lead to our legal victory for religious freedom in America. Thank you too for your generous partnership to help reach our nation (and the world) with the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel.