The creationist ministry that built the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky has unveiled plans to build the 800 acre tourist attraction at a cost of $172 million. The ministry is planning on $37 million in tax incentives to make the Ark Encounter profitable. Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, has endorsed the plan amid concerns of using state money to further a profit making religious enterprise. In response to complaints the governor said, "The people of Kentucky didn't elect me governor to debate religion. They elected me governor to create jobs."
The biblical theme park is to contain a life-size NoahÂ’s Ark, Tower of Babel, a 500-seat special effects theater, aviary, and other bible-inspired attractions. Answers in Genesis, the ministry behind the Ark Encounter, claims the theme park will create 900 new jobs. However, people like Sandhya Bathija, a spokeswoman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has pointed out that Noah did not use taxpayer money to operate the original Ark.
Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, claims the law is on their side. Because federal courts have upheld state incentives for organizations affiliated with religious groups as long as they are not discriminatory. They claim anyone can visit or work at the park without regard to religion, race or national origin.
You could make light of the Ark Encounter, as many do, but the use of taxpayer money in the project is disturbing. Where do you draw the line? Some people might think these people are just profiteers using believers to turn a buck. The Ark Experience theme park, complete with special effects, really seems strange; tax money or not. It appears as though making a profit is more important to the ministry than their religion. Thankfully, there are Christians and non-believers who find this park offensive as well as against ethics and principle.