Opponents to Ark Project Publicly Confronted
Unique Billboard Campaign Helps Refute Ark Myths
PETERSBURG, Ky., December 8, 2014 – Modern-day Ark legends are being spread far and wide by anti-Christian activists seeking to undermine the Ark Encounter project, a full-size Noah’s Ark under construction in northern Kentucky, its builder contends. In one response to these aggressive anti-Ark efforts, Answers in Genesis, the builder of the Ark theme park (and operator of the successful Creation Museum) is launching a billboard campaign this week throughout Kentucky and posting a related digital video board in Times Square New York.
The Ark Encounter will present the historicity of the biblical account of the massive ship of Noah’s time. Answers in Genesis (AiG) points out that the Ark project and its biblical messages are not only being attacked by media outlets, secular websites, and bloggers, but anti-Christian organizations are now threatening lawsuits.
“The irony is that as secularists are criticizing the Ark project and relegating Noah’s Ark to a myth, they are passing around their own Ark myths,” said AiG president Ken Ham. “These agitators (most of them outside the state) are trying to undermine the Ark Encounter by spreading misinformation and putting pressure on Kentucky officials to reject an offer of a partial refund of future sales tax collected at the finished theme park (if the park sees excellent attendance and brings in significant tourism dollars to the state).”
To counter the secularists’ efforts, AiG’s billboard campaign will inform members of the public that they can learn the truth about the Ark project at www.AnswersinGenesis.org. As some of the Ark myths have been circulated by newspapers in the state, some of the 16 boards will be seen in neighborhoods near the offices of Kentucky’s major newspapers in Louisville, Lexington, and Frankfort.
Ham further declared: “With this new billboard campaign, the attention-grabbing wording will get people to visit our website, where they will discover the truth about our full-size Ark and learn how some intolerant people are trying to keep it from succeeding. Even as our secularist friends, including Bill Nye “The Science Guy” whom I got to know as a result of our friendly debate, oppose the Ark project, we’re not deterred, for we see how God has been blessing it.”
The billboard campaign that begins this week (a Lexington board is already up) runs into part of January. In addition, a 15-second digital board will be displayed starting tomorrow in New York City’s Times Square (on Broadway between 45th & 46th streets, above the Disney Store), with 672 spots per day during this busy holiday season at this bustling square. Overall, the combined outdoor effort is expected to deliver more than 20 million impressions.
Here are examples cited by AiG of the modern-day Ark legends being spread by secularists seeking to hinder the Ark Encounter (more fully addressed on the AiG website):
Myth #1: The Ark Encounter is being built using tax dollars. Contrary to the implications found in news articles that have appeared in the Courier-Journal, Herald-Leader, and State Journal newspapers in Kentucky, no unwilling taxpayers will see their tax dollars used to build the Ark. The money involved concerns sales tax that will be collected from people who voluntarily visit the completed Ark when it is fully operational; with excellent attendance and the generation of tourism dollars for Kentucky, the Ark Encounter might have the opportunity to have some of its sales tax that it has collected refunded (to a maximum-approved amount over 10 years through the state’s legislation).
Myth #2: It is illegal for the Ark Encounter to hire only those people who can sign its statement of faith. While the Ark Encounter has not yet determined what its hiring policies will be, AiG points out the following to counter this myth:
- It is well established in federal and state law that religious organizations are permitted to give employment preference to adherents of their own religion. Ark Encounter, which is owned and operated by a Christian organization, is allowed to avail itself of these provisions of law just as every other religious corporation in Kentucky does. This approach, of course, just makes sense. Without this important provision in law, no church or religious organization would be able to maintain its identity or any consistency of message.
- While federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) prohibits discrimination in hiring practices, it specifically carves out the above exception for churches and religious organizations.
- State law (Kentucky Revised Statute Section 344.090) provides: “[I]t is not unlawful practice for . . . a religious corporation, association, or society to employ an individual on the basis of his religion …”
Answers in Genesis believes it is just like every other religious group and that there is nothing unique or special in regard to employment of staff. According to AiG, those who hold to a different view of hiring can’t cite a specific, applicable state or federal law or statute that would support their position.
Myth #3: The possible refund of a portion of state sales tax collected at the opened Ark Encounter is a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state.” This myth has already been debunked by an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, who told “USA Today” in 2010 that the state’s Tourism Development Act, which provides for the partial refund of sales tax to successful attractions, should be non-discriminatory toward the Ark Encounter. The ACLU lawyer told the newspaper that “courts have found that giving such tax exemptions on a non-discriminatory basis does not violate the establishment clause [of the First Amendment], even when the tax exemption goes to a religious purpose.”
Ultimately, AiG contends, Kentucky and its residents will benefit from the tax revenue the Ark will generate (even after the refund of sales tax), as well as from the state income tax collected from people to be hired in the region as a result of the Ark’s opening—and from the sales tax collected at businesses created in the area because of the Ark. This massive revenue for the state will go toward funding many programs to benefit its citizens.
It was the state’s tourism incentive that originally led the organization to choose Kentucky as the place to build, AiG officials reflected. This month, construction progresses at the Ark site. For additional information, see www.ArkEncounter.com
Note to Editors: For additional information or interview requests, please contact Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications at 972.267.1111 or Melany@alarryross.com.