Take action now! The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority is expected to give approval tomorrow (Tuesday, July 29) of major tax incentives for a proposed $172.5 million Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County.
Ark Encounter is a project of Answers in Genesis, which describes itself as an “apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and which created the Creation Museum in Boone County about 40 miles away. The museum’s founder, Ken Ham, famously debated Bill Nye earlier this year. “God has burdened AiG to rebuild a full-size Noah’s Ark,” Ham wrote on his website.
The plan calls for a 510-foot wooden ark , reportedly to cost $24.5 million alone, as part of the 800-acre Ark Encounter park to open partially constructed in summer 2016. As of February, the group had only raised $14.4 million. The park is also to include a “pre-flood themed area,” live animal shows and a “Tower of Babel” featuring a theatre and “first-century village.”
A Kentucky program allows eligible tourism attractions a 25% rebate on sales tax collected for such items as admission tickets, food, souvenirs, etc., over a ten-year period. The rebate might total as much as $18.25 million.
If the tourism board votes yes Tuesday, as expected, final approval would be sought within two months. The state first granted preliminary approval in 2011 for up to $43.1 million in sales tax rebates over 10 years, with Gov. Steve Beshear’s very open blessings. Answers in Genesis withdrew the appication after funding delays and has had to reapply.
Public help has already included a $62 million municipal bond offered from the city of Williamstown, where the park is to be located. Bloomberg News reported that tourist attractions have defaulted on such bonds as Williamstown offered, with the added risk of legal challenges based on the state/church entanglement.
Please phone or email the tourism department now!
If you wish, use any of the language below. If you live in Kentucky, please be sure to identify yourself as a Kentucky taxpayer:
As a Kentucky taxpayer and resident, I strongly oppose granting public tax incentives for the pervasively sectarian (and financially overblown) Noah’s Ark Encounter, whose purposes are avowedly fundamentalist. Please vote against preliminary approval of tax incentives for Answer in Genesis’ religious proposal. It is deeply offensive to me as a Kentucky citizen to read Answer in Genesis’ rationale for this theme park: that “the Ark is a reminder of God’s judgment upon a sinful world. It can also serve as a picture of salvation.” The State of Kentucky has a duty under and secular Constitution not to aid and abet religious ministries, and should stay above the fray, ensuring that it does not appear to be granting preference for bible literalism at the expense of its citizens.
Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize an avowedly Christian fundamentalist project based on a wacky literal interpretation of Genesis. A “yes” vote will open the state up to protracted litigation. Please safeguard taxpayer dollars by keeping state and church separate.
Thank you for taking action now!