In 2014, curious tourists will be able to flock to Kentucky to immerse themselves in Bible stories--courtesy of a $150 million dollar
theme park. Named the Ark Encounter, the project includes a full-scale
mock of up Noah's giant vessel and petting zoo (two of each type of
animal?) along with Old Testament icons the Walled City, the Tower of
Babel and the Red Sea.
The scale of the project--it will create
900 jobs and, when completed, will attract 1.6 million visitors a
year--suggests that "theme park" is indeed a proper term for the Encounter. But
the site stresses that it isn't simply an amusement park. It will be
fun, yes, but it will mainly focus on providing a family focused
adventure "while learning about history." (True to their mission
statement, the Ark itself will be all-wood version "based on the
dimensions provided in the Genesis Chapter 6.")
Beshear officially announced
the proposal on Wednesday. Although it
appears that Ark Encounter's purpose is to educate visitors about
Biblical stories, the developers behind the park, the non-profit
Answers in Genesis, will--according to the Louisville Courier-Journal
--seek state tax incentives that could subsidize
up to 25 percent of the project's total costs.
questioned about the church-state separation issues that the project may
raise, Gil Lawson, of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
told Talking Points Memo
that the law the establishes a tax incentive for the park is a neutral
one: "We look at these applications without any regard to religious
issues. They stand on their own, and it depends on if it's adequate
financing and does all the things the applicant says it will do.
Religion does not play a role in this."
Here's a larger-version sketch of the Ark Encounter concept:
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