It turns out that folks are watching.
In our last post we noted that – despite Answers in Genesis (AiG) CEO Ken Ham’s public statement in which he fudged some facts and omitted many more – it seems as the most obvious explanation for Ark Encounter’s move from for-profit status to non-profit status to for-profit status in the space of 24 days is that AiG was trying
to negate Williamstown’s ability to impose a [fifty-cent] tax by moving the Ark to non-profit status. But when Kentucky made clear that this would result in the end of the [state’s] sales tax rebate, AiG/Ark Encounter backed down, returning to for-profit status and accepting Williamstown’s tax.
In response to our post, a disaffected evangelical wrote rightingamerica:
I thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous . . . and then this. This is appalling. And is there any other way to read Ham’s statements than as intentionally misleading, if not straight out lies?
Then there’s Libby Anne, who blogs at (the wonderfully titled) “Love, Joy, Feminism,” and who grew up an AiG devotee but is now an atheist and progressive (a reversal that is not uncommon among those who grow up in the Christian Right). In response to Ark Encounter’s tax machinations she wrote:
Answers in Genesis claims to be Christian, but recent decisions make clear that its actions vis-à-vis its social responsibilities are anything but. . . It seems incontrovertible that Ark Encounter was transferred to [non-profit status] to avoid paying Williamstown’s safety tax. . . Objecting to a safety tax, when Williamstown has had to hire new emergency personnel and expand various programs directly because of the Ark Encounter? What even is that? [Emphases in original.]
What even is that, indeed.
AiG proudly bills itself as an “an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively.” Toward that end AiG spends a great deal of time concocting arguments that allegedly disprove evolution and prove their particular (and peculiar) reading of the Bible.
It seems lost on the folks at AiG that the way in which they conduct themselves as human beings – especially in relation to other human beings — is also part of apologetics. That is to say, fudging and omitting facts while employing what appears to be hardball tax avoidance techniques against a struggling small town would seem a surefire way to undercut their stated mission of “proclaim[ing] the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively.”
But then, as we have argued in Righting America and elsewhere, proclaiming the Gospel seems the least of it at the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter.