Ken Ham has been on quite a tear against Americans United lately. The Australian creationist is all worked up because AU continues to point out the inconvenient fact that he built his Ark Encounter park, a re-creation of Noah’s Ark in northern Kentucky, in part on the backs of the state’s taxpayers.
To get caught up on the latest edition of “As the Ham Spoils,” take a quick look at this editorial I wrote for the February issue of Church & State. In it, I dared to point out that Ham’s Old Testament Disneyland wannabee gets subsidies from the state.
That made Ham mad! They are not subsidies, he fumed. He also accused of us trying to stifle free speech. I’m not sure what Ham means by that. We’ve never tried to stop Ham from building his ark, which, I should point out, is just like Noah’s except it has electricity, lights, air conditioning, central heating, steel beams, rivets, bolts, joists, nails, metal hinges and possibly wi-fi. We just had the temerity to suggest that since it’s an evangelistic project, maybe Ham and his Answers in Genesis (AiG) ministry should pay for it with private funds.
This is the closest any human ever came to riding on a dinosaur.
So an angry Ham did call-ith down the wrath of his Twitter account upon Americans United and did smote us with a ferocious blog post. Unfortunately for the dullard from Down Under, we’ve been kind of busy lately trying to stop President Donald Trump from relegating Muslims to second-class citizenship (among other things) and barely noticed.
Lo and behold, I’ve come to find out that two champions have arisen in our defense. Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger Jr., who are both professors at the University of Dayton, challenged Ham’s claim that he’s not receiving any state subsidies.
“While Ham would like readers to focus on these semantics, we should look at something else Ham says: ‘The Ark Encounter was built by donations and bond issue [emphases ours] – no state money was used,’” wrote the two on their blog. “Bond issue. It sounds straightforward. Boring even. But nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Trollingers added, “As we have reported numerous times, in 2013 the town of Williamstown – a few miles from the Ark, with a population under 4,000 – gave Ark Encounter $62 million in Tax Incremental Funding. Over the next thirty years, the Ark will apply 75% of its property taxes toward repayment of these bonds. This is a remarkably sweet deal, made sweeter by the fact that if the Ark sinks, the taxpayers and the investors (and not AiG) will be left holding the bag.”
That sort of puts things in a different light.
The Trollingers know what they’re talking about. They are the authors of Righting America at the Creation Museum,a book that focuses on Ham's other project. I haven’t read this book yet, but it looks awesome, and I look forward to getting my hands on it soon.
You might recall that the reason we even wrote about Ham recently was that a “geologist” who works at his park claimed he had proof that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. His proof turned out to be Beowulf – a work of fiction.
This was, to speak frankly, a foolish thing to say, and I pointed that out.
I’m glad Ham saw that blog post and the Church & State editorial. In fact, the thought of Ham obsessively poring over everything AU writes about him and plotting his Twitter response fills me with glee. (After all, getting all worked up about something and then issuing reckless tweets in response is the hallmark of lots of great leaders these days.)
Just for the record, I’ll say this one more time: Ham and his band of kooky creationists have the right to believe whatever they want. The pseudo-science pervading Ark Encounter is straight out of “The Flintstones,” but it’s a free country. Have at it.
Just don’t expect the people who know better to pay for it.