I’m sure you’ve heard of the numerous flood legends found in cultures around the world. Whether it’s the Australian aborigines, the American Indians, Fijians, or back to the time of the Babylonians, these flood legends that abound have elements similar to the Noah’s Flood account in Genesis.
These legends with similar elements even relate to the event of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.
At the time of Babel, people would have been very familiar with the account of the Flood, handed down to them from their grandfather (or great-grandfather) Noah and his family. Then as the family groups dispersed from Babel, they would have taken that Flood account with them. But as the Flood account was told and retold, elements of it changed. Aspects of these various flood legends reflect the truth of the actual history that’s in the Bible—the account that has never changed.
Our own experience and account of the recent events in AiG building a life-size Noah’s Ark in northern Kentucky (south of Cincinnati) have a parallel to the ancient legends. There is a modern-day connection to Babel and how people pass around myths and legends. The truth concerning the construction of our massive wooden structure is being twisted or ignored outright, as secular bloggers, atheist organizations, and media (and even some Christian reports) have told and retold their stories about our Ark project.
As I read these media stories and blogs, I do see elements of truth (such as facts concerning basic information, like the location of the Ark Encounter, its size, and so on), but mostly I see a lot of myths. It reminds me of how the flood legends around the world have twisted the original account—while there are elements of truth in them from the real account, entwined is a lot of fiction.
We are now seeing new kinds of Ark myths spreading across the world. Let me give you just a few examples of these modern-day legends:
Legend: The Ark Encounter is being built using tax dollars. FALSE. No unwilling taxpayers will see their tax dollars used to build the Ark. The money involved concerns sales tax that will be collected from people who voluntarily visit the completed Ark when it is fully operational.
With excellent attendance and the generation of tourism dollars for Kentucky, Ark Encounter might have the opportunity to have the sales tax it collects refunded to a maximum-approved amount over 10 years through the state’s legislation.
Legend: It is illegal for the Ark Encounter to hire only those people who can sign its statement of faith. FALSE. While the Ark Encounter (under construction) has not yet determined what its hiring policies will be, or whether different levels of employees may have different requirements, we point out the following:
It is well established in federal and state law that religious organizations are permitted to give employment preference to members of their own religion. Since the Ark Encounter meets the criteria, and is owned and operated by a Christian organization, it is allowed to avail itself of these provisions of law just as every other religious corporation and entity in Kentucky does.
This approach, of course, just makes sense. Without this important exemption in the law on hiring, no church or religious organization would be able to maintain its identity or any consistency of message.
Federal law is supportive of the Ark Encounter. That includes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Act prohibits discrimination in hiring practices, it specifically carves out an exception for churches and religious organizations, which are permitted to give employment preference to adherents of their own religion.
State law is also supportive. Kentucky Revised Statute Section 344.090 specifically provides: “[I]t is not unlawful practice for . . . a religious corporation, association, or society to employ an individual on the basis of his religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, or society of its religious activity.”
Answers in Genesis and its Ark Encounter are just like every other religious group. There is nothing unique or special in regard to employment of staff. Those who hold to a different view can’t cite a specific, applicable state or federal law or statute that would support their position.
Legend: The possible refund of state sales tax collected at the opened Ark Encounter is a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state.” FALSE. This myth has already been debunked by an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, who told “USA Today” in 2010 that the state’s Tourism Development Act should be non-discriminatory toward the Ark Encounter. This ACLU lawyer told the national newspaper that “courts have found that giving such tax exemptions on a non-discriminatory basis does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, even when the tax exemption goes to a religious purpose.”
Legend: The Creation Museum, the Ark’s sister project, is failing (and thus the Ark Encounter will, too). FALSE. This is one of the most puzzling of the false legends. Each year the museum’s attendance and revenue have exceeded the projections AiG set before the museum opened in 2007 and when the national economy was strong. On several days this past year, the museum has seen thousands visit. Furthermore, many times our daily attendance records were broken in 2014. Overall, attendance has actually increased from the previous year.
The regional Chamber of Commerce is ecstatic to have us in the area and to see the Creation Museum bring in hundreds of millions of tourism dollars into the region at hotels, restaurants, airlines, stores, gas stations, and other tourist-related businesses.
A well-attended park adds tourism dollars to the state and generates thousands of new jobs.
Since many critics say the Ark won’t be successful anyway, then they should have nothing to fear about the refund of sales tax, which only happens if attendance hits the state’s required standards. A well-attended park adds tourism dollars to the state and generates thousands of new jobs.
Kentucky and its citizens also benefit from the state income tax collected from these new positions of employment, plus from the sales tax collected at businesses that are created in the region because of the Ark—money which will go toward funding state programs that can benefit citizens.
Now, there are many other modern-day Ark legends being spread, intended to malign AiG and the Ark project (and Christianity overall). But as we say, “Those who oppose us can rock the boat, but thank God they can’t sink this ship!”
The full-size Noah’s Ark opens in 2016. Keep up to date on the progress (including articles and a special webcast that dispel the many Ark myths) at ArkEncounter.com.