How would you feel if an employer wanted to deny you as a job applicant because of your personal faith and beliefs?
For one thing, you’ll probably consider it to be discriminatory and a clear infringement on your legal hiring rights.
Well, one Christian theme park developing in Williamston, Kentucky wants to take this same approach once their hiring process starts.
Executive President Mike Zovath of Ark Encounter—an attraction based off the biblical account of Noah’s Ark—told Reuters Wednesday that he would defend his religious rights even at the cost of losing millions of dollars in tax credits.
Ark Encounter’s parent company, Answers in Genesis, plans to ask potential candidates to sign a statement of faith confirming their belief in creationism and the biblical flood, and Zovath stands behind the initiative completely.
However, the state has informed Ark Encounter, LLC, that if they decide to consider applicants on the basis of the Christian faith, then they would be forced to withhold tax incentives from the theme park.
For Ark Encounter, this would work against their ongoing project efforts.
Over the summer, the theme park was granted approval from the state to receive a refund from accumulated tourism sales tax revenue.
As of right now, the park is being built in phases with the help of bonds and outside donations.
Ark Encounter is planning to first build a model of the colossal boat before moving on to other stages of the park’s development.
While the current budget slightly totals over $70 million, Zovath says that the tax credit—which could approximately totalled to more than $18 million within the next decade—was going to finance a major portion of the theme park’s future endeavors.
Yet, Communications Director Gil Lawson for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet said that state officials will not tolerate the theme park’s discriminatory motives.
"We expect all of the companies that get tax incentives to obey the law," he said.
One thing is for certain: Ark Encounter is the one of the first Christian-based parks that refuses to embrace faiths dissimilar from their own.
The Holy Land in Orlando, Fla. for example, is an interactive learning experience mainly centered on the teachings of Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion.
Their workplace functions through eight key principles, but one in particular is opposite of what Ark Encounter seems to regard as acceptable within the hiring process:
Principle 1: Adhere to equal and fair employment practices in hiring, compensation…without discrimination based on national, racial, ethnic or religious identity.
Ironically, Ark Encounter doesn’t see their hiring method to be unlawful, but they do consider the state’s threatening response as a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The park also argues that new requirements concerning Kentucky’s hiring practices doesn’t mirror tax credit laws.
Zovath hopes that Kentucky will reconsider its stipulations so that the company can continue to move onward with the development of Ark Encounter.
"We’re hoping the state takes a hard look at their position, and changes their position so it doesn’t go further than this," said Zovath.
The attraction is scheduled to debut sometime in 2016.
Image Source: Facebook, Ark Encounter