(The following is a satirical news column which includes fictional events)
WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (RNS) The announcement after a federal judge’s ruling that only Christians will be hired to work at the Ark Encounter, the theme park featuring a life-size replica of the biblical vessel, has sent waves through the non-Christian religious tourism world.
While Muslims and Jews are among the believers planning visits to the theme park being built by Answers in Genesis, which also owns the nearby Creation Museum, some wondered: How could Christians colonize our shared story?
Leaders from Kentucky’s Muslim and Jewish communities told The Literalist they’re already constructing their own 510-foot-long amusement arks near the Christian boat.
“Shem, Ham and Japheth didn’t have to affirm any creeds to help their dad build and sail on his ark,” said Rabbi Noah, CEO of the Jewish Ark Encounter. “You shouldn’t have to profess Christ as your savior to board a replica either.”
The leader of the Islamic Ark Encounter, Imam Nuh, noted how the state of Kentucky gave Answers in Genesis $18.25 million in tax rebates for the project. He said his mosque already applied for the state tax rebate: “If the Christians get state-sponsored funding, so should Muslims, but we’re not holding our breath.”
Reaction to the three competing arks has erupted online, with #1Ark4All and #3Arks2Many trending on social media.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced his administration’s support for equal tax rebates for the Islamic and Jewish arks. “It’s also their religious right to restrict any Christians from applying,” the governor’s press release stated.
The intra-Abrahamic rivalry has left many local residents looking for consensus and rebuilding in this town of fewer than 4,000 people, and hoping the arrival of Morgan Freeman will bring healing. Freeman announced Thursday that he will devote an episode of “The Story of God” to the arks.
“God only built one ark for Noah and his family,” Freeman said in his somehow deeply authoritative and yet also compassionate voice. “Will the animals also have to pass religious tests?”
(Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons writes The Literalist, a twice-weekly satirical news column for RNS. His writing on faith and public policy has appeared in Sojourners, The Washington Post, The Texas Tribune and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @guthriegf)