Ark Wars: Brother Joel Would Rather Kentucky Open Up a Porn Shop Than the Ark Encounter!


You read that correctly. Over at the Unsettled Christianity [a name that betrays a serious misunderstanding of what it means to hold fast to the faith once delivered] blog, Joel Watts [known as Brother Joel to my readership] posted “rev” Barry Lynn’s mocking propaganda piece to his readers with the following comments:

“Good for him!

I really don’t care what group wants to build what – but if I was in Kentucky, I’d be a little upset that my tax dollars were being used to in such a way.

Answers in Genesis is not a ministry – well, not an honest one. I have to agree with Lynn, that they are comparable with Harold Camping. Neither care about actually reading the bible. Period.

And, just to be clear – I wouldn’t want my tax dollars being used for any actual ministry either.”

I will speak plainly.

I addressed the fact that Barry Lynn’s cheap shot regarding twice-failed “prophet” Harold Camping was unfounded and, well, self-serving; no less so from Brother Joel.

Answers in Genesis is, of course, a valid ministry. In fact, the reason Brother Joel so opposes AiG is that they are a Biblical authority ministry and, frankly, he doesn’t believe that the Bible is all that authorative. Nor does he suppose the Bible is inerrant. He thinks that Bible-compromiser Peter Enns is a light bringing us forth out of the Dark Ages. He believes that Genesis was made up as a polemic against the Babylonian gods and, apparently, that the Jewish people turned a blind eye to the fact that these were fictions and, in fact, incorporated them into their Hebrew canon. To read a post on his blog, though he supposes himself “theological conservative,” is to hear arguments identical to pretty much any die-hard liberal foe. He objected to my announcement of 2011 as the Year of Taking the Bible Seriously, not because he doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but because I equated it with being a Biblical Creationist [as opposed to an extraBiblical Creationist who impose extraBiblical ideas upon the text and hold to extraBiblical sources as their ultimate authority where Genesis is concerned; e.g., Old Earth Creationism, Day-Age, Gap Creationist, Framework Hypothesis, Progressive Creationism, Theistic Evolution, etc.]. The basic premise of the Year of Taking the Bible Seriously is that we need to hold the Bible as our ultimate authority. Well, he didn’t like that, because he affirms evolution and millions of years, though he rejects the extraBiblical notion that man evolved from apes or ape-like ancestors. As I stated in a post back near the beginning of the year:

“An agnostic [namely T. H. Huxley, the very man who coined the term] has more faith in the abilities of a Creator he denies than an extraBiblical Creationist has in the abilities of the Creator he affirms.”

I digress. Mark Looy of Answers in Genesis attempted to correct the misrepresentations in Joel’s post:

“No fear–your tax dollars won’t be going to build the Ark. No money will be taken out of Kentucky’s state budget. Here’s what will really happen: if the Ark meets attendance goals and as tourism dollars pour into the state, it will receive partial rebates on sales taxes paid by its visitors. In other words, the money going back to the attraction will be from those who voluntarily chose to visit; no unwilling taxpayer will subsidize the Ark. There is no financial risk to the state. Please get your facts straight before you go public with a comment such as “I wouldn’t want my tax dollars being used for any actual ministry.” That’s a flat-out wrong statement. Thank you. Mark”

 Never one to let the facts stand in the way of a good story, Brother Joel accused Mr. Looy of either gross ignorance concerning the tax system or else “lying to the public about the situation.” His reasoning was that “when you give a tax credit or rebate, it is giving tax dollars back to the ‘ministry’.” But who’s tax dollars would be given back?

Mark responded:

“Joel: I don’t know how much clearer we can be in correcting your belief that “your” tax dollars will build the Ark. The only taxpayer involved in the Ark when it opens is the person who chooses to visit the Ark attraction and pays sales tax there. The Ark may get some of that sales tax money back if attendance meets certain milestones. It’s not tax dollars taken out of the state budget–in fact, the state coffers benefit from sales tax collected at the Ark, plus the income tax it receives from the thousands of employees working at Ark-related jobs that will be created, from sales tax collected from the businesses that pop up, etc. It is a net gain for the state treasury, and thus should lessen the tax burden for Kentuckians.

Disagree with our Ark’s message all you want, but not for the bogus reason you cited in your poorly researched postings. Frankly, you are the one who does not understand the system and the nature of the rebate. Mark”

And Mark’s right, of course, but Brother Joel doesn’t deal with reason or rebuke particularly well. Point in fact, Brother Joel still considers himself a “theological conservative” despite the fact that he merely parrots liberal modernist attacks on the Bible! Of course, Brother Joel also paradoxically considers himself a Progressive Christian, which is another term for a liberal revisionist. In any case, Brother Joel responded with an assertion that “when you get a tax rebate, that is money not being used by the state, thus, tax dollars being given to the ark project from other tax payers.”

So if Taxpayers A thru M go to the Ark Encounter and pay sales tax, but Taxpayers N thru Z do not; AND the Ark encounter meets its sales milestones THEN Taxpayers N thru Z’s sales tax has been rebated back to a ministry they did not support?? Waitaminute. Joel, the taxpayers who support the Ark Encounter by (pay attention) paying to go to the Ark Encounter are the only ones who would have their sales tax rebated to the Ark encounter. Deal with the facts, sir.

Mark Looy responded much the same:

“Joel: Let me repeat — the ONLY taxpayer involved in the Ark’s operation is the person who VOLUNTARILY chooses to visit the Ark attraction and pays sales tax there, and a part of THEIR sales tax may come back to us in the form of a rebate. Mark”

Brother Joel promptly plugged his ears and repeated his earlier argument, basically arguing that the sales tax would go to the general State coffers and therefore the rebate would come from the State’s general coffers, which all taxpayers pay into: 

“Rebate = Tax money coming to you.

You are a business peddling things under the guise of religion. By giving you a rebate, the State is missing out on much needed funds. Because they choose to give you money back, you as a ‘religious’ institution, you are getting tax dollars which should be used by the State. That means that there are less to go around – because you want a rebate.”

Note that Brother Joel switched tracks from arguing that his taxes would go to building the Ark Encounter to arguing that in general State taxes should not be rebated back to any business with a religious agenda. That’s called moving the goalposts, and Mr. Looy calls him on this and on the assertion that a tax rebate would necessarily mean less money for the State:

“Joel: You’re moving the goalposts now that you’ve been shown to be wrong in your claim that Kentucky taxpayers are involuntarily subsidizing the Ark. Let me correct you on two other matters: 1. the reason the state offers an “incentive” in the form of tax rebates to tourist attractions is to have them build here as opposed to another state (two counties in Indiana have courted us) and still see a net gain for Kentucky even after the rebate is given (that’s why it’s called an incentive), and 2. that means there is MORE money to go around for the services the state provides, not less as you contend. How many times must I write that there is a net gain for the state if we build in Kentucky and not elsewhere? If we built out of state, millions of dollars would go with the project and Kentuckians lose.

What is your real opposition to a project that will see a state greatly benefitting by increased tax revenue and thousands of new jobs? And why get so emotional and suggest that I might be “lying” about the nature of the rebate?

Mark”

Hey Mark, just move it to West Virginia, for crying out loud. Local area businesses would love the boost in tourism that Kentucky would be missing and West Virginia would see an exponential boost in tax revenue – even if we offered a similar tax rebate incentive. As a value added bonus, Brother Joel’s head would just plain spin off his shoulders (he and I are both West Virginians, oddly enough).

Brother Joel was undaunted by logic and reason, and sputtered the following reply:

“Mark, no goal posts – not wrong.

1.) You claim to be a religious organization. Thus, you should not get tax dollars. You are a business, operating under the guise of religion – nevertheless, tax dollars should not be used to support religion.

You are trying to argue something different now. Regardless if it does bring jobs, tax dollars should not be use to lure ministries, or prop them up. Period.

My position is that it is a religious business and thus should not be supported by the public. Duh.

Not emotional, really, Mark, but you guys are lying in many of your statements – and not least about the 6000 year thing.”

Aside Mr. Looy’s comments stop at this point; I can’t say as to whether he realized he was simply casting pearls, or whether Brother Joel stopped approving his comments (as he did with me). In any case, in an aside between a fellow named Jeff & Joel Watts, Jeff pointed out the following in regards to Brother Joel’s original post:

“And talking about lying. You say, “I really don’t care what group wants to build what,” yet, your whole post and comments proclaims exactly that you do!”

Shockingly, Brother Joel, a self-proclaimed “theological conservative,” wrote the following in reply:

“Build a porn shop – which is just about what the Ark Park is – but not with tax dollars.”

Wow. Well, Jeff had about the same reaction to that statement as I did:

“…as to equalting the ark park to a porn shop . . . you are a disgusting little man filled with hatred to those who frighten you because they reject your theology.”

I wrote to Brother Joel as well, asking him if he hadn’t mispoken in his zeal and hatred of Answers in Genesis. He did not approve my comment, but he defended his comment, believe it or not, to Jeff:

“Like the porn shops, the Ark Park presents an unfaithful view of various things and positions unattainable. Both are digesting because both prey on human weaknesses.”

An unfaithful view of what, Joel? The Bible? the apostolic tradition of Christian doctrine? Positions untenable with what? The extraBiblical notions of men who reject God and supernatural revelation in the first place? Flabbergasted, I asked him:

“Are you seriously gonna let that statement equivocating the Ark Encounter and a porn shop stand? Have you no integrity left, Joel? Has your zeal and hatred against Answers in Genesis so blinded you to reason?

God rebuke you for your pride.”

His unrepentant response:

“God rebuke you for you idolization, your irreverence of Scripture, your false doctrine and your zeal for the works of darkness, Tony.

Reason promotes zeal against the ugly facade which is AiG.”

I know this guy, so I persisted, hoping he’d see the light but beginning to realize I was casting pearls:

“Joel, wake up. Please.

Idolization? of what specifically? If I preach false doctrine by teaching a young Earth and a worldwide Flood in the days of Noah so did Paul, so chew on that a while. As did Peter. As did the author of Hebrews. and Christ Himself. As for my “irreverence” of Scripture, which is more irreverent: the man who believes what it says because he believes it to be the true and supernaturally revealed account of a God who never lies, or the guy who edits it, revises it and dissects it as he would any other man-made document – and only believes it when it suits his presuppositional political views?

So I take it your porn shop statement stands then?”

Amid further castigations of yours truly, he replied:

“Yes, the porn shop comments stands. Both are charging people for something that is simply not true but passing it off as it is.”

What are we to do in a world where men call evil good and good evil? Everything we can to speak the truth!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cat says:

    I am praying for Joel’s blinders to be cast off by the hand of God Himself. As the bible states,
    ‘woe to them who call good evil and evil good…’ You are right, we cannot remain silent as the biblically illiterate run over the Truth. The Truth must be proclaimed loudly, to the highest heavens, by all believers, as much as is possible.

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