Out there in Kentucky … because, where else? … a Noah’s Ark theme park, Ark Encounter, created by a group called Answers in Genesis, is set to open this July. The centerpiece of the park, like Disney’s Cinderella’s castle or Epcot’s globe, is a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark.
Um, okay … but, since the group behind Ark Encounter has initiated a discriminatory hiring practice, which is a polite way of saying, No Gays, No Atheists, No One But Christians, another group, the Tri-State Freethinkers, has erected a billboard saying Ark Encounter “celebrates the destruction of humankind, minus whoever was on the ark" and calls the site a “genocide and incest park” that “[celebrates] 2000 years of myths."
Ark Encounter documents state that “employees must oppose abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, and trans rights” in addition to, well, here’s Ark Encounter’s statement of faith:
"The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God."
The Creation Museum has also come under fire for antigay discrimination because they also require employees to sign a pledge that “makes applicants promise to follow… orthodox Christian beliefs, including opposing same-sex marriage and believing all answers exist in the Bible.”
And this whole mess begins with the man behind Answers in Genesis: Ken Ham. He hates The Gays; in 2015, Ham argued that following the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, the United States is “under judgment from God”;
“One of the signs of even God judging a nation and withdrawing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, one of the signs is the sign of homosexual behavior, as it says in Romans 1, and I believe we’re seeing that in this nation, I believe this nation is under judgment.”
“If you abandon Genesis’ literal history of marriage and say marriage can be two men or two women or whatever you want, well, why not abandon clothing?”
Well, that could be fun? But let’s get serious for a moment. Ken Ham, and his people, and his theme parks and museums, can believe and promote whatever they want, but they are asking taxpayers, all taxpayers, to pay for their arks and myths.
In 2014, Answers in Genesis applied for, and received, $18 million in tax breaks from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority to build Ark Encounters; that funding was briefly revoked by the governor after news broke of the park’s discriminatory hiring practices which made them ineligible for tax breaks.
But, Answers in Genesis appealed the board’s decision through a federal lawsuit, arguing that Ark Encounters’ tax exemptions were denied based on the theme park’s “religious purpose and message” and U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove agreed, writing that the attraction is “neutral, has a secular purpose, and does not grant preferential treatment to anyone based on religion.”
And, this may be a stretch, if they raise $150 million they’ll build their own theme park … maybe right next door to the Ark.