This month, the second coming of Noah’s Ark officially opened to the public. It is conveniently located in Williamstown, Kentucky, 45 minutes south of the Creation Museum.
The Ark is the first phase of a vast tourist attraction, “Ark Encounter.” The centerpiece of the park is a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark, a literal interpretation of the one described in the Bible. The 100 million dollar structure was built by the Answers in Genesis ministry, headed by Ken Ham, who also built the Creation Museum.
The Ark was built from “private” donations, junk bonds, and an $18 million tax break by the state of Kentucky. The parcel that The Ark sits on was purchased by Ham from the city for $99. According to Newsweek, Williamstown declared the ark site and the surrounding 1.25 miles a tax increment financing (TIF) district. A TIF is a special form of development elegible for tax incentives, originally established for development of “blighted” areas (LBL can find no evidence that Williamstown is a blighted area). As such, 75 percent of sales and real estate taxes generated within the area will go back to fund Ark Encounter. Ark workers must also pay an employment tax that goes directly back to the Ark coffers.
Unlike the neoArk, the actual Ark was built entirely by Noah and his family and friends, without the help of either monetary donations nor Mesopotamian tax breaks of any kind. Noah, focused entirely on the task at hand, neglected to employ the services of some pretty high-powered attorneys to advise him about how to receive optimal financial gain from the endeavor.
The Ark has been accused of being discriminatory in two main areas:
The Ark does not hire gay people to work there. According to Ham, Answers in Genesis applicants must sign a sign a statement saying they are Christian and profess Christ as their savior. Ham did not address the issue of people who are in the question as to their sexuality.
The Ark, finite in size, has been accused of not being able to house every single species of animal/etc that actually exists on the planet. Ham has responded that, contrary to what scientists believe, there aren’t millions of species. The original Ark was relatively small and all life was onboard, so that proves that there are only enough species to fit inside.
Life in the Boomer Lane also wonders of Ham has addressed the tiny animal issue. Some species are so small (fleas, gnats, and those things that swarm around your face and try to get up your nose) that Noah would have had a tough time making tiny little cages for them, building materials being fairly crude at the time.
Ham predicts that up to two million people will visit Ark Park each year, roughly equivalent to the number of fast food emporiums that are sure to spring up in the area. It is not clear whether gay people will be excluded from working at any of these.
It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to see where this might all be headed. Ham is sitting on a potential goldmine, thanks to the state of Kentucky. There could be another museum/theme park devoted to the birth and the crucifixion. A huge part of biblical Bethlehem could be created in Kentucky (within easy drive of The Creation Museum and Ark Park), with special emphasis, of course, on the manger. And the site of the crucifixion would provide an even bigger draw. Both sites would have what the originals did not: MacDonald’s, toilet facilities and souvenir shops.
It’s a win-win. The faithful get to experience up close and personal what, until now, they could have only fantasized about from reading their bibles. It’s a biblical take on the Las Vegas model of reality. Ham gets to become a mogul in the process, leaving televangelists in the dust by creating a new, evermore lucrative way to serve the faithful.
The only loser is the gay population, especially those who consider themselves Christians. They are not only excluded from employment at Ark Park (and at the Creation Museum), but they must deal with the fact that, while many followers of their religion have an interpretation of the bible which welcomes dinosaurs, it does not do so with them.