Intolerant Pastors Unite with Secularists Against Ark Encounter

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In regard to a TV interview I did recently, one of our supporters wrote, “That was the most exciting 20 minutes I have seen of you besides the debate [with Bill Nye “The Science Guy” in 2014].”

In that national interview, I was asked about the overall ministry of AiG, and then specifically about the Creation Museum and the coming Ark Encounter. On such programs, I can’t help but get excited in letting people know about these powerful evangelistic outreaches.

Now, many of you may not be aware of this, but in reality my wife and I are actually quite shy. It might not seem that way to you because I often speak in front of thousands of people at one time and have been interviewed hundreds of times on news programs.

But as I’ve testified to over the years, when it comes to the ministry the Lord has called us to, I have a “fire in my bones” that I can’t explain. I can’t help but get excited. I know the Lord has called my wife and me to this creation/gospel ministry—and He has confirmed that calling over and over again.

One of my friends who knows me well once made this comparison: “You remind me of Clark Kent, who seems like a mild mannered, shy person until he jumps into a telephone booth." He added, “Once you get in front of a microphone on stage, speak to the media, or talk to people about the ministry, you become passionate creationist Ken Ham.”

I believe Answers in Genesis and its various outreaches . . . are at the cutting edge of the spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of people today.

Yes, I am passionate for this ministry. That’s because I believe Answers in Genesis and its various outreaches (like the Creation Museum and future Ark Encounter) are at the cutting edge of the spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of people today. I want to see as many people as possible become as fired up as we are!

Now, as I was writing this piece, something had just occurred that has me fired up even more as to the importance of what the Lord is doing through AiG.

I’m sure you are aware that the anti-Christian group Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) put a great deal of pressure on Kentucky government officials to deny the Ark Encounter the opportunity to participate in a state sales tax rebate incentive program—one that is available to any group that meets certain criteria (all of which the Ark Encounter met).

The Kentucky governor and the secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet bowed to these pressures and decided last December to deny the Ark Encounter the opportunity to participate in the tourism incentive program.

Their action was clearly religious discrimination—blatant viewpoint discrimination. Such attacks on religious freedom are on the rise in America. In response to the state’s unconstitutional actions, AiG/Ark Encounter filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Kentucky. (You can learn more about it and watch a video about why this lawsuit was necessary at our special website AnswersForFreedom.org.)

Now, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State is once again attacking AiG’s life-size Noah’s Ark project. It has lodged a motion with a federal court to intervene in our lawsuit with the state of Kentucky. The group wants to be part of this legal action—on the side of the state—to try to stop AiG from being allowed to participate in the sales tax rebate.

AU has found people who will be the intervenors: “four Kentucky taxpayers who oppose the use of their tax dollars to promote religion,” declares AU, and who “pay taxes, including sales and income taxes, to the Commonwealth.”

Sadly, according to AU’s court motion, two of the four intervenors are stated to be “ordained Christian ministers.” One of them is Christopher M. Caldwell, who states, “I am a minister ordained in the Baptist Faith and I serve as pastor at Broadway Baptist Church.”

He goes on to declare, “The tax rebates sought for Ark Encounter would effectively compel me, as a Kentucky taxpayer, to subsidize a religious ministry against my will.” This same statement is made by three other Kentucky residents, including Paul D. Simmons on the faculty at the University of Louisville and a “minister ordained in the Baptist faith.” He states he has “served as pastor and interim pastor at a number of churches in Kentucky.”

Now Americans United for Separation of Church and State knows well that no one will be compelled “to subsidize a religious ministry against . . . [their] will.” Contrary to popular—but wrong—opinion, the sales tax rebate incentive is not some kind of government grant to help Answers in Genesis construct the Ark Encounter. AU is guilty of helping to perpetuate this myth a number of times on its website and in its dealings with the media.

In a recent press release, AU stated, “in a motion to intervene and a proposed motion to dismiss the lawsuit, filed last night in a federal district court, Americans United says it wants to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to unconstitutionally finance a religious ministry.”

The very wording of the intervenor’s motion repeats the tired old myth (which has been soundly refuted by us on multiple occasions) that taxpayers’ money will be used to build the Ark. This is simply not true, and is a blatant (and very likely intentional) misrepresentation on the part of AU.

Absolutely no unwilling taxpayers will see a single penny of their tax dollars go toward the Ark Encounter. The tax incentive program refunds a portion of the sales tax collected from those who voluntarily chose to buy a ticket to tour the Ark Encounter.

It is completely inconsequential that these four interveners are taxpaying residents of Kentucky, unless they chose to visit the Ark once it opens and pay sales tax on their tickets. If they don’t choose to visit, none of their money will be used in any way to subsidize the Ark Encounter. They will not be compelled to “subsidize a religious ministry against [their] will.”

So if these Baptist ministers don’t want any of their money finding its way back to Answers in Genesis, then they just shouldn’t visit the Ark Encounter. (They probably won’t pay to visit anyway.)

Why would AU have these four people claim something that is totally untrue?

Now, AU knows the truth about the sales tax rebate and that no unwilling taxpayers will see their dollars used to build the Ark. So why would AU have these four people claim something that is totally untrue?

Well, from what I’ve witnessed over the years, I suggest AU engages in such dishonest misinformation campaigns for its own fundraising purposes. Over and over again AU misrepresents or implies things that aren’t true—or tells outright untruths. I believe the AU leadership does this because they want to rally their supporters to give them more donations. (By the way, their donors receive a tax deduction; AU is a 501(c)(3) organization and therefore it receives a number of tax benefits from the government!)

I suppose that AiG and the Ark are AU’s “villains of the month” for fundraising purposes. They want their supporters to send them money to help them stop Christians from their free exercise of religion.

This misinformation campaign by the AU tells me that the Enemy is quite upset with the Ark Encounter. After all, it is going to be one of the greatest evangelistic outreaches of our day. Groups like AU despise the work of Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter and what we stand for: the authority of God’s Word from the very beginning, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. AU and other secularist activist groups are trying to do whatever they can to stop the Ark Encounter.

The repeated attacks against the Ark Encounter from secular groups, the media, and the state of Kentucky highlight that this struggle is ultimately not an earthly, physical battle. Just like when the Creation Museum was being proposed and construction began, AiG is facing an ongoing battle “not . . . against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Please pray earnestly for AiG as we go forward with our lawsuit and with construction at the Ark Encounter property. Praise God, we have two highly experienced religious liberty lawyers who are representing AiG and are giving us their legal services at no charge.

And I have a message for AU and groups like them. I’m reminded of what Gamaliel said to the people about the work of the Apostles: “But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:39).

At Answers in Genesis, we do believe that the Creation Museum and future Ark Encounter are of God! He called us to establish these creation/gospel outreaches.

Yes, such opposition fires me up even more! It makes me even more passionate about the AiG ministry.

In His own special way, the Lord has used AU to once again intensify that fire in my bones! I trust you will also become more emboldened to spread the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.

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