Worrisome "Good News"

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Americans United, a church-state separation watchdog group, reports that funding shortfalls are threatening to keep a creationist-themed theme park from opening in Kentucky. While we do not appear, fortunately, to have reached the point, where states are actively funding such unconstitutional, improper fiascoes, we are seeing a state granting favorable treatment to a religious group, hence the concern:

The "Ark Park" is a classic case of state officials using bad fiscal policy to appease the Religious Right. Kentucky has committed more than $40 million in tax incentives to this project, which is being headed by a prominent fundamentalist Christian ministry that believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time and that unicorns once existed – ideas utterly rejected by mainstream science.
I suspect that my only disagreement with Americans United here is about what is bad about Kentucky's fiscal policy: It doesn't go far enough. The state should phase out all welfare programs and quit taxing everyone, permanently.

As someone who thinks that, in addition to not promoting any ideology (this term emphatically includes religion), the state shouldn't tax anyone and shouldn't be involved in education, I agree: Until the state is out of the education business, it should at least not promote unscientific views in the name of teaching science; and until the state is out of the business of forcibly parting citizens from their money, it shouldn't grant ad hoc exemptions to some people at the whim of whichever politicians hold power.

I'm glad the park may be in trouble, but the worrisome context in which this piece of news occurs makes the term "good news" impossible to apply to it in anything other than the narrow sense that a single bullet from a machine-toting madman has missed. The fact is that our state increasingly "plans" the economy and otherwise meddles in our lives, and theocrats see these as opportunities to be taken advantage of (a la tax "incentives"), rather than problems to solve permanently and in a principled manner.

-- CAV

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