Kentucky Makes Taxpayers Fund Noah's Ark Theme Park

Kentucky state officials recently agreed to contribute more than $40 million in state taxpayer funds toward the construction of a Biblical-themed amusement park featuring a full-scale “replica” of Noah's Ark. Those backing the project – and who will benefit from the precious taxpayer cash – include Answers in Genesis, the fundamentalist Christian group that runs Kentucky’s infamous “Creation Museum,” where visitors are told that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and dinosaurs walked alongside humans.

The group’s latest enterprise, “Ark Encounter,” will feature a Tower of Babel and a “Journey Through Biblical History,” according to designs on its website. But just in case you were worried, the website also promises that everything will be “historically authentic.” After all, the park will provide “a powerful outreach to teach the world about God’s Word and the message of salvation!”

Oh, boy.

Despite numerous objections that using state funds to build an unabashedly Christian theme park violates the separation of church and state, both the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority and Gov. Steve Beshear (D) have supported the project, arguing it will provide much-needed jobs to the Bluegrass State.

But if you read Ark Encounter’s website, the thanks for their funding belongs to someone else entirely.  

 “Just as God brought the animals to Noah by the appropriate time (Genesis 6:20),” reads one post on Ark Encounter’s blog, “He’s providing the resources for this dynamic experience.

Exactly. As long as by “God,” you really mean the hardworking taxpayers of Kentucky.

In an editorial yesterday, The New York Times regretted that, under current Supreme Court doctrine, state support for the proselytizing theme park could probably withstand a court challenge, but that still doesn’t make the actions of Kentucky officials right:

[G]ranting tax incentives to the explicitly Christian enterprise clearly clashes with the First Amendment’s prohibition on government establishment of religion. Public money is not supposed to pay to advance religion. Kentucky’s citizens should certainly ask themselves if this is really the best use of taxpayer dollars.

If the project moves forward as planned, Ark Encounter would open in 2014 and continue receiving taxpayer dollars for the next 10 years.

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