Wednesday, December 1, 2010

662. Mt. Ararat in Grant County, Ky. - and a winner on Hidden Location #4

Let's handle the Hidden Location news first. My friend Curtis Morrison, one of the leaders of the anti-tolls group in Louisville, an erstwhile supporter of Councilman Hal Heiner's unsuccessful bid to become mayor, and a blogger in his own right, wordsmithying at, correctly identified Hidden Location #4 within fifteen minutes of my posting it, a new record. While I was prepared to accept "Dixie Highway and Ralph Avenue" as the most correct answer, Morrison, who likes pushing envelopes to their most inconceivable limits, was even more specific, identifying the location as "Dixie Highway and Clinton Place," which is actually a few hundred feet south of where I was standing when I took the picture. Clinton Place is the rather unknown name of a street of government-subsidized apartments on Shively's northside. Very few people would ever had gotten that specific, so my commendation goes to Mr. Morrison. A new Hidden Location will appear soon after my return to the Commonwealth.


On a different matter, I was in another state today when, lo and behold, there upon the TV screen appeared the Honorable Steve Beshear, governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The governor is a friend of mine who is seeking reelection to his office in 2011. Today's appearance was to announce an economic development project which will assist in the funding of a Noah's Ark-based theme park in Grant County. I have a First Amendment-based problem with those plans but there may be facts I've not been made aware of.

Noah's Ark, you may recall, settled, at least according to the 4th verse of the 8th chapter of the Book of Genesis, as found in my well-read and well-worn Bible, on the 27th day of the 7th month of the flood in the "Mountains of Armenia" which we've decided is someplace called Ararat on or near the border between Iran and Turkey. Today's announcement would have a theme-park built around the biblical story of Noah and the Ark placed in Grant County in northern Kentucky.

Having seen the press conference, upon my return to Kentucky I intend to pen a letter to my friend the governor. I heard him explaining this Ark-thing as an economic development venture. I'm trying to recall if bringing the Presbyterians to Louisville in the 1980s was a similar economic development venture. There are some tax rewards to be sure, but does respecting the views of one religion over another, something the United States Constitution prohibits, merit such an investment on the part of the taxpayers? The governor said he would invite other denominations with similar plans to make their pitch for similar projects. It makes me feel the earth move under my feet - actually more of a slippery slope down which I do not want to go.

If we are to maintain the so-called "separation of church and state," words which, by-the-way, do not appear in the United States Constitution, should we not avoid entanglements such as this one, where taxpayer dollars are being used in what appears to be a "respecting the establishment of religion," words which, by-the-way, do appear in the United States Constitution.

Further, Section 5 of Kentucky's fourth (and present) Constitution, under the heading "Right of Religious Freedom" offers the following language:

No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

I'm not an attorney so maybe I simply do not know what I am talking about. I've been in that situation before. But I am a Christian who feels that my religious practice should be just that - mine, and by extension, so should everybody else's practices be theirs. I'm not much of an evangelizer even though the Bible says I should be. But that is a problem between me and my God and not me and my state. And that's the way I think it should be. There should be a separation of my civil practices and my religious practices - a separation of church and state. They should neither overlap nor interfere with each other. Nor should they overlap or interfere with others' practices or non-practices of their own beliefs.

If the government is to fund this religious undertaking in the name of an economic development project, we should also reap the benefits of taxing the property, income, and other assets of the park just as we would any other piece of property. And, maybe we are. Someone needs to make that clear.

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.