AIG's ambivalent relation to the tax code

Schrödinger’s cat is, famously, both dead and alive, simultaneously. There has been doubt as to whether macroscopic objects could be prepared in cat states, but Answers in Genesis has done it! As Ed Hensley of the Kentucky Secular Society observes below, AIG is both a nonprofit and a for-profit entity, simultaneously (a condition that we noted earlier on PT). Following up on material that Dan Phelps acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Hensley sent the following (lightly edited) press release to a number of interested journalists:

I wanted to provide you with Ark Encounter documents from a Freedom of Information Act request by Dan Phelps of the Kentucky Paleontological Society. There are also some related files. These can all be accessed here.

FOIA documents are numbered ark02.pdf through ark46.pdf.

ark02.pdf - ark06.pdf include the Ark Encounter application for the grant and other foundational documents.

ark07.pdf - ark46.pdf are letters and e-mails roughly in chronological order.

Non-FOIA documents include annual filing statements by Ark Encounter, Answers In Genesis, and Crosswater Canyon with the state of Kentucky, Crosswater Canyon Articles of Incorporation, Williamstown Bond Summary, an AIG fundraising letter, and images of books written by Ken Ham and America’s Resource Group CEO Britt Beemer (AIG claims of projected 2 million in attendance are based on claims by Ken Ham’s co-author Beemer).

I wish to point out the following facts:

ANSWERS IN GENESIS, CROSSWATER CANYON, AND ARK ENCOUNTER ARE ESSENTIALLY ONE AND THE SAME ORGANIZATION.

  1. Answers In Genesis (AIG) is a non-profit ministry.

  2. Crosswater Canyon is a non-profit ministry owned by AIG; it operates the Creation Museum and will operate Ark Encounter.

  3. Ark Encounter is a for-profit company owned by AIG.

  4. Ark Encounter’s annual filing statement lists Crosswater Canyon as the manager and has the same address as the Creation Museum.

  5. Crosswater Canyon’s filing statement has the same address as the Creation Museum and is signed by John Pence.

  6. Answers In Genesis’s filing statement is signed by John Pence.

  7. Ark Encounter’s application lists John Pence as the contact.

WHEN AIG SEEKS TAX-FREE DONATIONS, THEY ACT AS THE NON-PROFIT AIG.

  1. See documents aig01.pdf and aig02.pdf for example of a fundraiser where AIG claims donations to Ark Encounter are deductible from federal taxes because AIG is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

  2. Ken Ham calls the ark an “evangelical ark” and says, “I believe the evangelistic Ark is a great Kingdom investment opportunity!” The last link goes to a donation page for AIG, where they claim donations can be exempted from federal taxes because AIG is a 501(c)3. There are numerous other examples of such links in AIG and Ark Encounter websites. See here.

WHEN AIG SEEKS KENTUCKY SALES TAX REBATES, THEY ACT AS THE FOR-PROFIT ARK ENCOUNTER.

  1. The application for the sales tax rebates was submitted by Ark Encounter.

  2. AIG admits that they created Ark Encounter in order to apply for the Kentucky sales tax rebate program (click Why Is The Project So Big, and Why Is A For Profit LLC Going To Own Ark Encounter: “The for-profit LLC structure also allows the Ark Encounter to be eligible for various economic development incentives that would not have been available with a non-profit structure.”)

THERE ARE QUESTIONS ON THE LEGALITY OF AIG-ARK ENCOUNTER CLAIMS AS BOTH A NON-PROFIT AND FOR-PROFIT. Attorneys of various organizations are examining this issue.

AIG ACTIVELY PRACTICES RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT FOR ARK ENCOUNTER JOBS. Even though AIG has removed its “Statement of Faith” from its website and application, it still asks its applications to “Please provide brief details of current church membership and attendance”, “How old would you estimate the earth to be?”, “Please provide your Salvation testimony”, “Please provide your Creation belief statement”, and “Please write your confirmation of your agreement with the AIG Statement of Faith”. See here.

AIG PLANS ON USING THE ARK FOR EVANGELISM. In document ark14.pdf, Kentucky General Counsel William Dexter is concerned about AIG statements on Feb 27, 2014, that the ark would be used for evangelism and expressed concerns about the legality of Kentucky sales tax rebates being granted for an evangelistic ministry. Ken Ham and AIG ignore these concerns, recently referring to the ark as an “evangelistic ark” (again see here).

I encourage all journalists to examine the FOIA documents for themselves and to help inform the citizens of Kentucky about the details of the structure of the organizations and the fact that Kentucky is considering giving $18 million in tax rebates to a religious ministry.

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Dan Phelps adds that he

found it fascinating that the documents I obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act documented that the Tourism Cabinet’s attorney allowed an attorney from Louisiana, Mike Johnson, to change the language of the agreement between the state and Ark Encounter. The original tax incentive from 2010/2011 stated that there was to be no discrimination in hiring for Ark Encounter jobs. Mr. Johnson convinced the State’s attorney to change the language so that they can argue that it is OK for Ark Encounter to discriminate.

Mr. Johnson, incidentally, is running for a seat in District 8 of the Louisiana Legislature. See Mr. Johnson’s website here. Our Tourism Cabinet is bowing to an extreme far-right Republican political candidate from another state, while ignoring its own attorneys.