Responding to an Outraged Ark Encounter Critic

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Despite the best efforts of Answers in Genesis and its publicist to dispel many myths currently swirling on the Internet (including this week on the well-trafficked website Slate.com1) and in the mainstream media about our future full-size Noah’s Ark, AiG continues to have to respond to anti-Ark bloggers, editorial writers, and reporters to set the record straight. We also reply to misinformed laypeople who write AiG to criticize the Ark project, such as Naomi in Wisconsin recently, who stated the following (letter excerpted here):

Re: Your request for public taxpayer monetary support for your museum: I can’t believe this. I sincerely hope your request is refused. Basically, what you’re saying, is: “Give us your hard-earned money, so we can propagate our controversial, scientifically disproven dogma. Don’t forget that we are committing a Felony by implementing discrimatory [sic] hiring practices. We only hire people who fit our religious cult’s narrow-minded demographic criteria . . . [M]ay God bless you for being ignorant human doormats.”

Outraged in Wisconsin,

–N. R. K., Madison, Wisconsin

Dear Naomi,

Thank you for writing.

I must point out that you have a misunderstanding concerning the funding for the construction of our Ark Encounter—specifically the tax incentive the Ark project might receive in a few years.

Ark Encounter is not requesting “public taxpayer monetary support” (your words) from Kentucky to build our full-size Ark. No taxpayer dollars are being applied to construct it. Instead, the incentive (available through the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which is designed to use tourism to boost the state economy and add jobs) pertains to sales tax collected at the finished Ark, i.e., from the people who will actually visit in 2016 when it opens (and in the years to follow). If the completed Ark draws large crowds and thus major tourism dollars pour into the state, then the state sales tax collected at the Ark (on food, tickets, etc.)—from those who chose to visit—could be refunded (up to a limit).

No unwilling taxpayers will see their tax dollars used to build the Ark.

Thus, contrary to what you have probably heard stated in the press and in countless blogs, no unwilling taxpayers will see their tax dollars used to build the Ark. It involves 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 the state (and Kentucky also receives revenue from income tax paid by the thousands of people who will work at the Ark and at businesses that will pop up nearby), the Ark Encounter would have the opportunity to have the sales tax it collects rebated up to a certain amount. But not a dime will be paid by an unwilling taxpayer to help build the Ark.

By the way, the Ark Encounter, which was courted by Indiana, will be built in Kentucky primarily because of the refund incentive offered by the state’s TDA. The state has been quite aggressive in trying to get tourist attractions to build here so that the economy benefits and jobs are created. The incentive is performance-based (i.e., attendance must be strong at the attraction) with no risk to the state—the net gain to Kentucky, after refunding sales tax, is significant. Frankly, legislation like the TDA would be a brilliant idea for any state to adopt that wants to boost tourism and add money to its coffers.

Finally, once you have written to the groups that oppose us—like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Atheists—and criticize them for not hiring Bible-believing Christians (using your reasoning and wording, they would be “committing a felony” for excluding non-atheists in hiring), then we can discuss your comment about future hiring at the Ark. I look forward to seeing copies of your letters to these groups and then dialoguing with you further.

I hope this assuages your self-described “outrage” about the funding of the project. Also, I trust you might be open-minded enough to visit the Ark when it opens.

Sincerely,

Mark Looy

CCO

To learn more about the truth concerning the funding of the Ark and also the hiring practices for religious organizations, go to ArkEncounter.com.

Footnotes

  1. This week, Slate.com repeated the false claim (so prevalent on the Internet) that the Creation Museum’s attendance is falling (and by implication the Ark Encounter will fail as well). This myth is one of the most puzzling of all the false Ark claims. Each year, the museum's attendance and revenue have exceeded the projections AiG set before the museum opened in 2007 (and a time when the national economy was strong). Overall, the museum’s attendance has risen, even this past year. On some days this year, we have set attendance records. The local 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 to the region at hotels, restaurants, airlines, stores, gas stations, and other tourism-related businesses.

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