Joy to the World — The Ark Is Approved

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

The last time we looked in on Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) and his proposed Ark Encounter project, he was Looking for More Tax Breaks.

As you know, ol’ Hambo is the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, , famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Now we have an update, which we found at the website of NBC television station WLWT in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from ol’ Hambo’s operations across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky. Their ungrammatical headline is: Grant [County] ark park get preliminary approval for tax rebates. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A state tourism board gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for up to $18 million in tax rebates for a proposed full-sized replica of the massive ark as described in the book of Genesis. … If the rebates are approved, the project’s owners – Crosswater canyon, a nonprofit subsidiary of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry – would receive up to 25 percent of the $73 million anticipated cost of the project. The owners would get that money over 10 years only after the ark is built and open to the public.

Preliminary approval! That means ol’ Hambo can start construction. The angels in heaven must be singing. Then we’re told:

Project co-founder Mike Zovath said organizers plan to use the rebates to invest in more attractions, including a replica of the Tower of Babel and a walled-city modeled after Biblical times – except it would include modern restaurants and shops that Zovath compared to “Downtown Disney.”

That makes sense. If they don’t spend the money on more attractions, they might have to use it to pay off their bondholders. Let’s read on:

The proposed state support for a religious theme park has drawn the ire of groups like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “We believe that the park is clearly a sectarian endeavor and should be ineligible from any tax incentives form the state,” spokeswoman Sarah Jones said.

Your Curmudgeon has been thinking about this issue. States don’t tax churches, so they can’t give them any more tax breaks, but a bible-based theme park generates sales taxes. Why should it be treated differently from any other tourist attraction?

Also, states routinely offer tax incentives and tax holidays to encourage industrial development. Obviously, Hambo’s activities don’t come close to being a computer factory or an auto assembly plant, but maybe a replica of Noah’s Ark is the only kind of “industry” that Kentucky can expect, or maybe it’s what they want to encourage. It’s Kentucky’s decision. Regardless of what we think of creationism, the sales tax kickback doesn’t seem improper.

The news article continues:

However, the criticisms have been ineffective. The project has the support of the state’s Democratic governor. And Keith Williams, chairman of the board that gave preliminary approval to the deal on Tuesday, said the board strictly looks at a project’s estimated economic impact on the state’s tourism industry.

Aside from the Kentucky Derby, what else does Kentucky have to attract tourists? Here’s more:

Kentucky’s state government could make money off the deal. If the project attracts enough tourists, the state could collect more than $18 million in sales taxes. That’s one of the things an independent consultant will review over the next several weeks before making a recommendation to the tourism board.

They’ll probably give it the final approval. Here’s one more excerpt:

Construction is scheduled to begin this year, with several Amish builders already committed to build the Ark’s frame. It is scheduled to open by the summer of 2016. Tickets will cost $33 for adults.

Only $33? That’s a real bargain! But if you plan to go, we suggest that you wear boots. The drool is going to be everywhere, and it’ll be deep.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Joy to the World — The Ark Is Approved

  1. Our Curmudgeon demands to know

    Aside from the Kentucky Derby, what else does Kentucky have to attract tourists?

    Jeepers, man, have you never heard of Jim Beam!?

    Two bottles of Kentucky Straight bourbon will not only cost you less than an adult ticket to Hambo’s Ark, but will damage far fewer brain cells…

  2. “Aside from the Kentucky Derby, what else does Kentucky have to attract tourists?”

    The Creation Museum, duh.

  3. waldteufel

    I must disagree with our esteemed Curmudgeon on the matter of the propriety of Hambo getting tax rebates from the state. I think it improper because all who work on the construction and later operation of the Ark Park are required to sign AiG’s statement of faith. This means the operation is steeped in religious discrimination from day one. The state is thereby endorsing Hambo’s theology, which the state has no business doing.

    I know, I know, we’re talking about a state where the droolers go to family reunions to hunt for wimmin. . . . Just sayin’.

  4. docbill1351

    I don’t care how many Amish they hire. That thing is not going to meet code for public access. No way, no how.

    At some point it’s going to be obvious that it’s a building that looks like a boat. Sort of. If you squint.

  5. docbill1351 predicts: “At some point it’s going to be obvious that it’s a building that looks like a boat.”

    But the interior won’t be anything like what the interior of the biblical ark must have been. Hambo’s ark will be spacious, well lit, and probably air conditioned. Noah’s nightmare tub was ventilated by only one window. It had to be crammed wall-to-wall with thousands of wild beasts, cruelly confined in narrow stalls, eating, pooping, and making continuous noise. An actual replica of what the bible describes would be truly hellish.

  6. What the world need’s now is more JB and maybe even some of Tennessee’s finest, JD and a lot less ol’ time religion.

  7. Megs beat me to it, but we could add that Kentucky is the only place in the world where one can make sour mash whiskey and legally call it “bourbon”. So, besides Jim Beam, there are a slew of other distilleries in Kentucky, many of which are open to the public as tourist attractions. And most of them make better bourbon than Jim Beam, IMO. (Try Old Forester — I think you’ll be pleased. Old Grand Dad is pretty good too, and of course there’s Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey.)

    Kentucky is also getting to be known for having some fine, small-scale wineries as well. One that comes to mind in Northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati) is Elk Creek Vineyards. They produce an exceptional cabernet sauvignon, for which they grow their own grapes. (Most other Midwest wineries making cabernet but they buy their grapes from California, Oregon, or Washington State.)

    At least some things in Kentucky are evolving…

  8. I should have said “but they buy their grapes from …”

    (Thanks in advance, Oh Great Voice From Above.)

    [*Voice From Above*] You should try a good single-malt Scotch.

  9. The Curmudgeon In reference to your reply to docbill1351, Bill Cosby does a really funny bit on Noah and the Ark in which he pokes fun at exactly what you’re talking about. Go to YouTube and type in Bill Cosby And have a laff. Check out his bit on Genesis also. I make no judgement as to what he really thinks, its just funny.

  10. docbill1351

    The Great and Powerful Curmie wrote: “An actual replica of what the bible describes would be truly hellish.”

    Speaking of which, everybody, if you’re ever have an afternoon to spare in London, do visit the London Museum down by the Barbican. It’s a great little museum, right there by the Roman wall, that chronicles the history of London right up to modern times.

    They have a great, living exhibit, the Roman village, that takes you back to Roman times. The place stinks of animals, hay, rotting stuff with the occasional waft of fresh bread and food cooking. They restock the village every day and all the “props” are real. No fake bread, no fake dead chickens, no fake poop. It’s a real experience and memorable.

    Did I mention the place stinks? No wonder the wealthy lived in villas out in the country!

  11. @docbill ref London Museum:

    Surely they don’t replicate the human excrement in the gutters, or do they??

  12. docbill1351 says: “no fake poop”

    I wonder who has the contract to supply that item to the museum? I have other questions, but it’s best to leave them unspoken.

  13. SC said:
    But the interior won’t be anything like what the interior of the biblical ark must have been. Hambo’s ark will be spacious, well lit, and probably air conditioned. Noah’s nightmare tub was ventilated by only one window. It had to be crammed wall-to-wall with thousands of wild beasts, cruelly confined in narrow stalls, eating, pooping, and making continuous noise. An actual replica of what the bible describes would be truly hellish.

    Ah, but people’s expectations and imagination today are far different than when “Noah” supposedly did his schtick. AC is ok, petting zoos ok, snack bars ok, ventilation ok, etc., etc. They expect a clean, sanitary, and safe environment where they can steep their kids in this myth.

    BTW, anyone seen the new “Noah” movie? Comments?

  14. Maybe the “poop contract” is where the rest of the money for the theme park will come from. They’ve surely got enuff BS to meet the supply.

  15. “Why should it be treated differently …”
    Cuz’ god – duh.

  16. While I can not think of any sensible Roman Catholic or Jew who would want to work for the ark park, they should not be prohibited from applying for jobs there. AIG has on their website a help wanted add for a CAD draftsman to work for Ark Encounter. Applicant’s must submit a recommendation from their non-Catholic Christian pastor, a salvation statement (whatever that is) and sign AiG’s statement of faith.

    There is a provision in the Civil Rights Act that permits religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion but I do not believe that tax incentives should be allowed to go to organizations who practice discriminatory employment practices.

  17. Stephen, I believe that is legal to discriminate on religious grounds. In addition, Obama never addressed the issue of faith-based groups getting tax funds while still discriminating, letting GW Bush’s pals continue their bad hiring practices.

  18. I so hope Hamster and/or Kentucky get sued silly over this.

  19. $18 million in tax rebates? The atheists were defeated after all?

  20. But the interior won’t be anything like what the interior of the biblical ark must have been. Hambo’s ark will be spacious, well lit, and probably air conditioned. Noah’s nightmare tub was ventilated by only one window. It had to be crammed wall-to-wall with thousands of wild beasts, cruelly confined in narrow stalls, eating, pooping, and making continuous noise. An actual replica of what the bible describes would be truly hellish.

    Amen. (‘Scuse me.) And just what would they have been eating, anyway? The carnivores especially. The whole thing is ridiculous, a poorly-thought-out fable. Ironically, a serious effort to replicate the Ark would inevitably make that clear (though creationists would probably whitewash it).

  21. When it comes to building a full-sized ark as a a tourist attraction……well……it takes all kinds.

    [Sorry. I just had to say it.]

  22. Ceteris Paribus

    Damn, gotta give it to Ken Ham that his entreprenureal vision will make Donald Trump just weep with jealousy at the audacity.

    It had to be crammed wall-to-wall with thousands of wild beasts, cruelly confined in narrow stalls, eating, pooping, and making continuous noise. An actual replica of what the bible describes would be truly hellish.

    So it looks like Ken is building a dual use Ark – one that can bedazzle the kiddies, and also provide a venue where an entire Kentucky clan can host their family reunion picknick in style.

  23. Retired Prof

    I’d be much more likely to buy a ticket to a full-sized replica of Sodom and Gomorrah–a good choice if Donald Trump should decide to compete with Hambo in the biblical amusement park trade. Sounds like Kentucky could supply the spiritous refreshments.

  24. @Eric Lipps wonders what they would eat. The Bible has a bit to say about that:
    And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
    Genesis 6:21

  25. As far as Kentucky tourism don’t forget Cave City where Mammoth caves are located. I did the “wild tour” many years ago and have to say it was pretty cool.
    I don’t see why AU is against the tax incentives either. So long as they aren’t calling themselves some sort of church and aren’t paying property and other taxes seems like they should get the same tax incentives that other fantasy based theme parks get.

  26. Charles Deetz ;)

    Easy engineering debunking opportunity of the ark: Find out the cooling capacity of the air conditioning it will have, then figure out how hot their ark would be without it. One could assume the load of tourists and petting zoo would be a fair minimum load compared to a fully loaded ark. It is real science Hambo could do himself, just flip the breaker on the A/C some days and see how hot it gets.