Religious Minorities

New Film Shines A Light On Creationist Ken Ham And His Taxpayer-Supported Ark

  Rob Boston

I recently had the opportunity to see an interesting documentary about creationist Ken Ham and his long-running campaign to overthrow Darwinian evolution.  

The film, “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” centers mainly on the development of Ham’s “Ark Park” attraction in northern Kentucky and how it, um, “evolved” from an idea on paper to construction.

As you might recall, the park features what Ham claims is a replica of Noah’s Ark. That’s not really true, though. The Book of Genesis tells us that Noah’s Ark was built of gopher wood and pitch, while Ham’s version is full of modern amenities such as steel beams, nails, electricity and wi-fi. Nevertheless, Ham is using his big boat to persuade people that mainstream science is all wrong and that the Earth, far from being ancient, is a mere 6,000 years old.

Filmmakers Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross don’t try to tell you what to think about the creation theories put forth by Ham and his Answers in Genesis ministry that runs the Ark Encounter. They don’t have to. The two interviewed several AiG employees who, given ample rope, quickly tied themselves up in knots. For example, the AiG staffers’ explanation for how enormous dinosaurs managed to fit in the ark is especially novel (and eye-rolling): Noah took baby dinos, you see. (And remember, this is what they want to teach our children in public school science classes.)

Americans United would not have opposed Ham promoting creationism and building his ark with privately raised funds. But, as the film makes clear, his biblical theme park got generous subsidies from taxpayers. I briefly appear in the documentary to talk about why AU opposed taxpayer money funding a religious ministry. We argued that since the ark project is clearly evangelistic in nature, Ham should have paid for it with voluntary funds. Instead, Ham insisted on sticking the taxpayers with the bill for his evangelism (and bad science).

“We Believe In Dinosaurs” highlights the ongoing struggle between advocates of modern science and those who would have our educational system and larger culture buckle under to a narrow worldview anchored in fundamentalist Christianity. But lurking beneath the film’s central message is a reminder that religion does best when it relies on voluntary contributions, not money coerced from taxpayers, to fund its projects.

The documentary is playing film festivals but may receive wider distribution soon. If you get a chance to see it, please do so. You can learn more about the film here.

P.S. A few days ago, Ham issued a tweet advising people to stop taking their children to public libraries because there might be LGBTQ-friendly books there. No matter what else we do, let’s keep this man and his extreme views far, far away from our public schools.

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