Should the government be in the business of helping build a bible theme park?

| by Jerome McCollom
In the state of Kentucky, the governor of that state is supporting a subsidy for a biblical based theme park. It will have a giant Noah's Ark as a center piece. Also a giant Tower of Babel. Do they really want to do that last one, didn't that piss off their deity? Anyway, one of the organizations putting money into this venture is called Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, or AIG, believes the earth is 6000 years ago. They believe that the Flintstones is not fiction, and that human beings rode dinosaurs. Indeed, in their Creation museum they have a dinosaur with a saddle as an exhibit. AIG, along with some other investors, wants the state government to give them tax incentives to help build this park. In the state of Kentucky, as some other states, governments can provide incentives if they believe that by doing so it creates a net positive economic effect. I am not sure if the subsidy to this park will do that. It will create some jobs, but than again if the government subsidizes anything, it will create jobs in that particular field. But, should the government entangle itself in religion, even if it might mean some positive economic impact? After all, the government can easily invest in projects that don't have Establishment Clause (or promotion of religion) questions or objections.

The fact is, if Wiccans or Muslims or Buddhists or humanists wanted a tax incentive, which in this case involves a return of sales tax collected, they would not get the support of the governor or Kentucky state legislature. Heck, in Kentucky there is strident opposition to protecting the rights of Muslims to build mosques. Could you imagine  if there were tax subsidies to build a giant theme park re-creation of Mecca?  Sean Hannity would have an ulcer in whining against it. Now, I cannot be sure if the support for this subsidy by governmental officials is motivated in anyway by the desire to support and further Christian religious beliefs. In 2011, few politicians (outside of maybe a handful of states) would openly admit to that. But, the tax incentives do in fact entangle the government with religion and they do promote Christian religious beliefs, at least to some extent. If this park cannot be build without the subsidy, than surely it being built will have some degree of promotion of religion, just as if the government gave a subsidy to advertise this column on the web,  would promote my own beliefs. To me this case isn't as clearly wrong as the government supporting a giant cross on public land or putting god in the Pledge of Allegiance or on the currency. Those are done with the clear intent in promoting the dominant religious belief of the majority.  This issue is a bit more murky, but the best guideline when in doubt is not to unnecessary entangle religion with the state.