I’m afraid this article on the Ark Park and their plans for expansion is a little too subtle. It’s main thesis is that the people behind Answers in Genesis are glorified carnies, working to rake in the bucks from the rubes, while pushing an oddball version of Christianity. Ken Ham is talking out of both sides of his mouth: to his co-religionists, he declares his collection of carnival rides to be a sacred mission for the church, but when he’s talking to anyone else it’s a commercial enterprise that deserves state support because it will bring in jobs.
Except that it doesn’t.
But the project’s single largest source of funding was actually $62 million in junk bonds floated by the town of Willamstown, population less than 4,000, home to the Ark Encounter and the county seat of Grant County, which faced bankruptcy this spring.
“In terms of revenue for the county, we don’t get too much from them,” says the county’s chief executive, Stephen Wood. The Ark Encounter negotiated a vastly discounted 30-year rate on property taxes in 2013 under a previous administration. “I hate it, but that’s the deal,” says Wood.
A town smaller than the one I live in can float $62 million in bonds? I do not understand economics.
And what few jobs it does create have some rather restrictive limitations.
As a condition of employment, the museum and ark staff of 900, including 350 seasonal workers, must sign a statement of faith rejecting evolution and declaring that they regularly attend church and view homosexuality as a sin. So any non-Christians, believers in evolution, or members of the LGBT community — and their supporters — need not apply. (Although, due to less stringent hiring requirements for contractors, an actor who allegedly operated a gay porn site was hired to portray Adam in one of the Creation Museum’s original videos.)
The article is fine on explaining how the Ark Park is a tourist trap constructed with subsidies of dubious legality, but once again, the bad science isn’t adequately highlighted. I guess I’m going to have to do it.
I’m attending the 2017 Midwest Zebrafish Meeting in Cincinnati next month, and on Friday, 16 June, before the meeting starts, I’m planning to visit the Ark Park, take pictures, put together some commentary and rebuttals, etc. Anyone else care to join me?
Unfortunately, one other thing I learned from the article is the cost of admission: $40 freaking dollars per adult. They really are trying to fleece the flock. I’ll go once to catalog the lies, but never again.