Creationist Ken Ham is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Ark Encounter, a theme park in Grant County, Ky., based on an alleged replica of Noah’s Ark, by unveiling big plans for an expansion.
During a recent interview with a Grant County newspaper, Ham talked about his plans to add a Tower of Babel to the park. This attraction, based on a story that appears in Genesis 11:1-9, will explain Ham’s view of how we ended up with so many languages. Bottom line: Look for more bad science. (Remember, folks, creationism is about more than just claims that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time, the Grand Canyon is the result of the massive flood described in the Bible, etc. It’s a comprehensive, unscientific worldview that addresses, well, everything.)
I recently received a press release from a PR agency Ham hired to blast the media with happy stories about his big boat. In the release, Ham carped that he’s had to work hard to respond to “the rumor that state money was used to build and open the Ark Encounter.”
That’s not a rumor, it’s a fact. Journalists, bloggers and Americans United have compiled entire lists of the forms of taxpayer support Ark Encounter received. But wait, there’s more! Ark Encounter received between $1 million and $2 million in federal aid under the original COVID-19 relief bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Blogger Hemant Mehta noted that even as Ham was pulling in a hefty PPP loan – which is really a grant because the federal government plans to forgive most of it – he was sending emails to supporters begging for contributions to save the Ark Park.
To recap: Ham built the Ark Park on the backs of Kentucky taxpayers. He denied jobs to anyone who failed to agree with him on religion. He stuck it to a small town that had been wowed by Ham’s tales of an economic turnaround. These are inconvenient facts he continually denies.
Now Ham wants to build a Tower of Babel. Will he stick the taxpayers with the tab for that too?
Just to be clear, Ham can build whatever he wants with his own money. To many of us, Ham’s anti-science views, his attacks on LGBTQ people, his assaults on secular education and his overall medieval outlook are deplorable – which is exactly why we don’t want to underwrite them. (Lately Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry has been on quite a tear about critical race theory, the latest all-purpose bogeyman for white Christian nationalists.)
When taxpayers were compelled to pay for Ham’s park, they were also made to subsidize his narrow theology and his hateful, intolerant and theocratic views. Many of us don’t want to subsidize that. To Ham we say clearly, believe what you want – but pay for its propagation yourself.
P.S. For more on the unfortunate saga of Ham’s taxpayer-backed fundamentalist boondoggle, see the excellent documentary “We Believe in Dinosaurs.”