Should the state be in the business of funding private religious projects, even if they could boost the well-being of local economies? According to an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority recently allocated more than $40 million in tax incentives for a planned expansion to the controversial Creation Museum: The Ark Encounter, a theme park designed to demonstrate the literal truth of the biblical story of Noah’s ark by featuring a full-size replica of the ark including live animals, was conceived by the same conservative Christian ministry that built the Creation Museum. Even Kentucky’s Democratic governor supports state funding for the project, arguing that it will bring 900 jobs to the area. Of course, as the editorial points out, “public money is not supposed to pay to advance religion.”
If the museum was instead an effort to demonstrate the historicity of certain stories in the Koran, would the state be willing to offer similar funding? What about a museum funded by an atheist group purposefully designed to demonstrate the falsity of the Bible and other religious texts? Even if the state would fund these hypothetical projects—if religious neutrality were possible—is this really an appropriate use of public money?
Read the NYT story here.