Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter has already faced a few obstacles. Last year, he was denied certain tax breaks afforded by the state of Kentucky to tourist attractions, when he demanded the right to hire only employees who agree with his religious views. He has consistently spoken in defense of his project, and maintained that it can’t be taken down.
For instance, in late 2014, Ham produced a billboard campaign for the Ark Encounter, declaring the following.
“To all of our intolerant liberal friends: thank God you can’t sink this ship.”
Now, though, the Ark Encounter is the subject of another billboard campaign — this one by a group called the Tri-State Freethinkers, which represents atheists and non-religious individuals in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. The group calls the story of Noah’s Ark one of “genocide and incest,” and declares it “immoral and highly inappropriate as family entertainment.”
Accordingly, they’re planning to erect billboards along state routes and interstates, bearing an image of Noah’s Ark, with the following words.
Genocide and Incest Park
Celebrating 2000 years of myths
They’ve started an IndieGoGo fundraiser with a beginning goal of $2,000, to place a single billboard for a month. Other goals, if donations should exceed that amount, increase the number of billboards and length of time they can stay up — and if the project should reach a lofty $150 million, the group says they’ll simply build their own “Genocide and Incest Park” to rival Ham’s project.
The group emphasizes that they recognize Ham’s legal right to celebrate and represent his beliefs via his park, but says they find it immoral and inappropriate, and disapprove of the Ark Encounter project receiving state tax incentives while employing discriminatory hiring practices.
In the first 10 hours, the project had already reached $380, and the fundraiser will be effective for a month.
What perks are they offering? For a $500 donation, a donor’s picture will be added to the billboard — drowning as the ark floats by.
Ham is, of course, used to criticism of his project. He blogged two days before the billboard protest was even announced, to discuss the opposition to Ark Encounter — opposition he terms “arkophobia.”
In the post, Ham opines that the opposition arises from rebellion against God, and from fear that the project will be successful in bringing the gospel to the masses.
“Secularists oppose the Ark because they are afraid of the Ark’s goal: to proclaim the everlasting gospel.”
You can see the Ark Encounter, which has a planned opening date of July 7, below.
— Ken Ham (@aigkenham) March 16, 2016
In January, Ken Ham won his case against the state of Kentucky, with a judge declaring, according to the Christian Post, that his project’s religious purpose and message should not exclude it from tax breaks, leaving him free to go forward with the disputed hiring practices and the project.
Ham says he’s also been criticized for building the ark using tools and materials Noah could never have had. To these criticisms, the Answers In Genesis founder responded.
…we don’t know what materials Noah did or didn’t have, as we are not told.
Each half bent (the piece lifted by crane) weighs 25,000 pounds!! pic.twitter.com/cEAI6yWOCW
— Ark Encounter (@ArkEncounter) December 30, 2015
It may sound familiar to those who watched the debate between Ham and famed “Science Guy” Bill Nye in 2014, or to anyone who has followed Ham for any length of time: it echoes a long-held argument of his: “Were you there?”
Despite Ham’s uncertainty of the types of tools Noah might have had, a slideshow of exhibit pieces for the Ark shows that the tools included will be primitive, largely stone objects. Also included in the exhibits? Dinosaurs — which Ken Ham has indeed declared were on the original Ark.
One thing Ken Ham doesn’t dispute about the Ark Encounter though: the project’s own social media feeds say that, contrary to popular portrayal, it isn’t a cute animal story.
The biblical account of the Ark and the Flood is not a fun story about an old man and lots of cute animals. pic.twitter.com/F4HYDWP5NR
— Ark Encounter (@ArkEncounter) February 24, 2016
[Image via Ark Encounter]