Noah’s Ark park may ease religious requirements for workers

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The proposed Ark Encounter theme park in Petersburg, Ky. Photo courtesy Ark Encounter/A Larry Ross Communications.

The proposed Ark Encounter theme park in Petersburg, Ky. Photo courtesy Ark Encounter/A Larry Ross Communications.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky., (Reuters) – The leader of a group that successfully sued Kentucky to get tax incentives for a Noah’s Ark-themed attraction said on Saturday that the religious organization may hire individuals who do not completely share his religious beliefs.

Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, said during a tour of the 510-foot (155 meters) boat that officials are still working on the employment criteria for its Ark Encounter attraction located in the northern Kentucky city of Williamstown.

Answers in Genesis employees must sign a faith statement that includes believing in creationism, a requirement that led state officials to pull an $18 million offer in tax incentives in December 2014 and prompted a court battle.

Ark Encounter on the other hand will have a separate statement of faith that may not have the same religious requirement, Ham said.

The statement has not been finalized and will likely be made public within months ahead of its July opening, he said. He said the attraction will hire up to 40 full-time workers and 400 seasonal workers.

“It’s a separate facility,” Ham said. “But we are not giving up our right to hire people with religious preferences.”

Last month, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction saying the group could hire based on religious practices and receive incentives. The state has said it will not appeal.

Ham said he sees the park as a major economic development project for the surrounding area, creating thousands of jobs that may not need such requirements.

Construction crews must add the bow and stern to the mammoth wooden ship, which is supported on the inside by dozens of 55-foot (17 meter) wooden poles. Eventually the ark will include more than 130 displays, including Noah’s living quarters and models of animals.

Elsewhere, the site will include a petting zoo, a large restaurant and a zipline.

The incentives would go toward future attractions at the 800-acre (324 hectare) site, such as a Tower of Babel or a first-century Middle Eastern village. Developers must wait for the injunction to become permanent before seeking final approval, Ham said.

Answers in Genesis co-founder Mark Looy said more than 4,000 people have made reservations for the July 7 opening, and developers expect more than 1.4 million to tour the park in its first year.

  • Gino

    Is the state of Kentucky so rich that it can offer $18 million in tax incentives to a facility which will make it the laughing stock of the world?

  • Roy

    The answer to your question is no. We have huge deficits in our state retirement system. The real question is: should the state of Kentucky be offering tax incentives to an explicitly religious organization to help them promote their explicitly religious message?

  • Debbo

    Agreed Roy. And the answer is No!

  • NOAH’S ARK IS FICTION

    Building of this “Ark” in Kentucky is the most wasteful project in America.

    There was no real Ark.
    There was no real flood.
    There was no real Noah.
    There was no real God.

    The disgraceful stunt in Kentucky is a testament to the damage religion has done to American education.

    Americans are so uneducated they don’t even know the Noah story is a plagiarism of Gilgamesh – a known work of fiction from thousands of years ago – even the cubits are nearly identical.

    It would be like saying West Side Story is true and it was not inspired by the fictional Romeo and Juliet from centuries before. Ridiculous.

    We are talking about MILLIONS OF TAX DOLLARS spent on a Blarney Stone while 500,000 American children are growing up with TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD in their water!

    Shame on us all.

  • John

    My question is: what exactly do you think these tax incentives are? Kentucky isn’t giving anything to AiG for this park. Instead, AiG is being allowed to keep $18 million that it makes, which is just a portion of the overall taxes that it will be giving to the state as a whole. And if you still somehow think they’re ripping off the state, it’s money the state otherwise wouldn’t have anyway if AiG wasn’t building the Ark. So, your point is moot as it’s only making the state of Kentucky richer.

  • John

    Your grasp on history seems to be a bit off. Your statements imply religion has done some kind of harm to education and that the the level of education is getting worse because of religion. On the contrary, religion has only decreased in schools as the corruption and deterioration in schools increases. Just pick up or research any primers used by schools in the 1800’s or first half of the 1900’s. Religion was a major component and frequently incorporated aspect of a child’s education, and that system created some of the greatest innovators and free thinkers within the industrial age. Now schools are almost completely devoid of religion and God and are suffering more than ever. Also, there are many flood legends throughout the world, including the Epic of Gilgamesh. The biblical account is the original. And again, no one’s tax dollars are funding the Ark; it’s all privately funded. They’re only being allowed to keep a portion of the money they make (see above). God’s is…

  • yoh

    Yes they are ripping off the state. Unearned tax breaks are denying the state funds it is entitled to for such entities. Tax breaks are meant to encourage behavior to the benefit of the state. The state will hardly be richer from Ark Encounter if AiG is mired in discrimination lawsuits.

  • @John,

    Wrong.
    Religion, Creationism, Dominionism – these are the enemies of education.
    They are enemies against Science, philosophy or freedom, speech and civility.

    Human rights are under relentless attack by the catastrophic theories known as religion.

  • yoh

    What have you done for me lately?

    Religious types are currently attacking public education and trying to siphon public funds away from it. They extol dishonest garbage creationism in public education.

    Nowadays religious education is synonymous with indoctrination and deliberate misinformation.

  • Junebug

    I am a Christian but not a robot. There is nothing historically authentic about this “zoo” but true believers will flock to it – because KJV of the bible says so. IMHO, it is a private-public business not a church and should not be afforded the same State benefits.

  • ben in oakland

    I really wouldn’t go to the institute for creation research for anything, certainly not actual information. But you are quite good at repeating their unsubstantiated claims.

  • Michael Glass

    The picture of the lake in front of the ark reminds of the lake in Donkey kong. I wonder if there are any copyright issues involved in using this illustration.

  • bbeck

    Wait a minute. I think everyone might be missing the point here. AiG is going to make Bazillions. This is obliviously a water park with rides, right? There’s probably at least two roller coasters, a huge wave pool, and the ark looks like a gigantic “Conquistador” ride like Six Flags has, you know the ride, it swings back and forth and makes you feel like you’re going to throw up. Am I right guys? Souvenirs, a restaurant in the ark which serves animal shaped pancakes, Noah and Mrs. Noah strolling the park for selfies with them, and not to forget the “Curse of Ham Tavern” where I suppose they’ll serve alcoholic drinks, where you can get drunk and jump around naked in front of the kids, just like Noah. You can meet Ham’s son, Nimrod, who is portrayed as “Mighty Mouse”, King of Babylon. The LGBTs will love the Rainbow park. The possibilities are endless here.

  • Michael Glass

    Compare the picture of Lake Orangatanga with the illustration above. See http://donkeykong.wikia.com/wiki/Lake_Orangatanga

  • Mark Osgatharp

    The reason the state gives “tax incentives” – which are actually tax breaks – to any business is to encourage business that generates jobs, income and tax revenue for the state.

    There are schools all over the place which receive tax incentives and direct government funding to peddle their agnostic, atheistic, evolutionist and left wing religious doctrine, not to mention their anti-American socialist political propoganda. So if we are are going to deny tax incentives to a business because it promotes and explicitly religious message, start with these bastions of Deism and agnosticism which have systematically raped the God fearing tax payers to promote their pagan religion.

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  • Jerrod

    Tax incentives come from all citizens in the state in the form of higher costs for them and lower costs for the special pleaders, but this group is not opening jobs for everyone, only those who pass a religious test. For that reason alone tax incentives are not warranted.

  • yoh

    It takes a great deal of sectarian insanity to declare public schooling a bastion of any religious belief (by design). You are under the delusion that secular government is an attack on religious belief. You expect our multi faith nation to be beholden to tour narrow sectarian religious views. Such views are un-American. Your god never required my tax dollars. The government of the people must serve all the people, not just Christians like yourself.

    While you are at it, creationism is a religious belief. One unique to protestant Christians. Evolution is a scientific principle. One need not believe in it. It is demonstrated to be valid by the weight kg evident and research.

  • yoh

    I wonder if they can simulate the smell and pestilent qualities of a leaky wooden ship loaded with animals for a month.

    Free cholera with every visit!

  • Mark Osgatharp

    And I wouldn’t have to pass a religious test to teach in a university? ROFL!

  • Mark Osgatharp

    Yoh, I was not referencing the state school system – though I think I could make a pretty good case that it has been used to systematically teach agnosticism. If I were guessing I would say you are probably living evidence of it.

    Notwithstanding, I was referencing the universities, both private and public, which receive all manner of tax payer funded subsidies.

    These schools teach religion directly. They also cloak their religion as “science” and “history”. And yet the squeal like a pig when a non-left wing religious organization gets some sort of government boon. Since they obviously aren’t against government funding of religion their motive is apparent.

  • Mark Osgatharp

    For the record, I’m not for giving tax breaks to AIG. I’m for taking tax breaks and all subsidies from all religious institutions. But since that isn’t going to happen I think we need to quit discriminating against fundamentalist organizations.

  • yoh

    Yes I was referring to the same thing. Your little tirade is pretty far gone before, it hasn’t changed much. The state schooling system isn’t there to further belief in your faith. You can do that on your own, with your own money. We have a secular government by nature under the 1st Amendment. Secularism is not religion.

    Your assessment of how public schools teach religion is so skewed by clear sectarian and theocratic bias that you mistake religious neutrality and ecumenialism (respect for all faiths) with an attack on your religion.

    You are upset that your religious beliefs are not given deference in public education or government service. Well, tough luck. You are not entitled to it. To someone expecting some kind of undue privilege any step towards acknowledging the rights and beliefs of others seems like persecution.

    We are a nation of all faiths, not just yours.

  • Mark Osgatharp

    Yoh,

    You don’t have a clue. As I said above, I am NOT for giving tax breaks to AIG. I’m for taking away all tax support for all religious indoctrination. But as long as left wing religion gets tax support so should right wing – there shouldn’t be any discrimination.

    I don’t have any dog in the tax incentive hunt because I don’t and will not support any of the causes and will not receive nor benefit from any tax incentives. I don’t want any government support for my religion. I do want the government to quit using my tax money to promote Deism, agnosticism and left wing modernist Protestant religious dogma.

    You, on the other hand, are so brainwashed and dull you actually think that the left wing schools don’t indoctrinate in religion.

  • yoh

    Your assessment of “left wing religion” is nonsense.

    What you are calling agnosticism and deism is more honestly referred to as secularism. Religious neutrality. An absolute requirement for promotion and supporting religious freedom for all.

  • Mark Osgatharp

    “Yoh”,

    You are either dishonest or criminally ignorant. Even if we discount the religion passed off as “science” and “history” the fact remains that left wingers teach overt religion on government money and yet scream like a banshee hen when right wingers do it.

    Example: I attended a lecture at a state college in North Carolina in celebration of the birthday of Charles Darwin. The lecture I attended explained how to reconcile belief in evolution with faith in God and was given by a Roman Catholic teacher. Had it been a lecture in evolution only, it could be dismissed as bad science. But when “faith” was injected into it became an overtly religious exercise.

    Private religious colleges receive all sorts of government funding. Don’t tell me these schools don’t teach religion.

  • Debbo

    Hahahahahahahaha! That’s great bbeck! Thanks.

  • Noah also preserved Anthrax, Smallpox and Polio for us all.
    Gee, thanks Noah.

    God would rather drown innocent puppies and bunnies
    than destroy the true rulers of the earth: Viruses.

  • Yoh

    No it is not a fact that “left wing religion”, whatever that even means, is being supported by tax dollars. That is entirely your skewed view of things. I suspect you are just railing about secular education.

    As for your Darwin lecture it was a religion one, not a science one. Evolution doesn’t require belief at all, its acceptance is based on evidence and research. There is no such thing as an evolutionist. There are scientists and educated people who accept well established ideas of evolution and there are the dishonest and ignorant contrasting with them.

  • Mark Osgatharp

    “Yoh”,

    You said,

    “As for your Darwin lecture it was a religion one, not a science one.”

    Yes, that is exactly what I said and it proves my point. A State College which is supported by state tax dollars teaches religion – left wing religion. Religion which is is traditionally known as Deism.

    I rest my case.

  • yoh

    The only thing resting here is my face against my palm. Catholicism doesn’t accept creationist garbage. That is simply a fact stated. What they belt in.

    Your whole spiel about promoting deism or discrimination against fundamentalists is probably all just your own extremist skew to things. I don’t speak wingnut nor suffer from the malady of mistaking christian privilege for your rights. So I have to say, I have no idea what you are trying to accuse others of here.

  • Florida

    “Noah’s Ark is Fiction”

    And so what. Micky Mouse and Harry Potter are also fiction. Theme parks based on those two create jobs and bring in tourism dollars to Florida.

  • Florida

    You rock bbeck!

    🙂

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