Ark Encounter Is Now Selling Rainbow Umbrellas (Take THAT, Gay People)

Last year, Creationist Ken Ham announced that Ark Encounter would be permanently lit up in colors at night. It was his attempt to “take the rainbow back” from those damn LGBTQ people.

He announced today that the Ark’s gift shop would start selling rainbow umbrellas. Because gay people can’t have everything, y’all.

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This… is not the best way to convince people you’re against LGBTQ rights.

So, to recap, Ken Ham thinks LGBTQ are sinning so hard that he wants to stick it to them by lighting up Ark Encounter in different colors and selling a rainbow umbrella. He believes rainbows are a symbol of a Godly act of genocide, and we should all start worshiping the Christian prophet who has two dads.

I don’t think he’s thought this one through…

Two Atheists Visited Ark Encounter and This Is What They Saw Inside

Seth Andrews recently visited Ark Encounter with fellow atheist Matt Dillahunty, and he brought along a video camera and a giant backpack full of sarcasm. As is so often the case, the place was fairly empty when they went.

Do yourself a favor and watch their experience. If nothing else, you’ll save yourself a $40 entry fee + $2.40 in sales tax + $0.50 for the safety fee + $10 for parking.

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I’ll take issue with one thing Seth said. He points out near the end that there are better uses for $100 million than this boat. I would agree. Still, I’m not a fan of the argument that says people who spend money in one way are wrong or immoral because they could’ve done something more noble with it. By that logic, just about everything optional we spend money on can and should be donated to a greater cause. If we’re making that criticism of Ham, we ought to make it of everybody, everywhere. But we don’t. We seem to only say it about people we disagree with. (Atheists raised plenty of money to hold two Reason Rallies in Washington D.C. over the past several years, but I wouldn’t spend much time thinking about criticism from Christians if they said the money should’ve been donated to charity instead.)

Ham fundraised for this project because he felt this was a way to spread his faith. We can criticize the junk bonds he sold. We can criticize the way he screwed over the local taxpayers to get sweetheart deals. We can criticize the bad “science” inside the boat. We can criticize the effect this boat may have on the minds of young people. But I have no doubt about Ken Ham‘s intentions, and it doesn’t bother me that he raised and borrowed money — even an obscene amount of it — for his pet project.

(via TheThinkingAtheist)

Ark Encounter Receives $1.8 Million Tax Rebate Check from Kentucky

The state of Kentucky will give Ark Encounter $1.825 million as part of a tourism-related tax rebate based on attendance and sales in its first year.

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The money comes from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, which said in 2014 that the Ark was eligible for the program allowing tourist attractions to retain 25% of the sales tax collected for things like tickets, souvenirs, and food over the first decade of business. In Ark Encounter’s case, based on estimated sales and other factors, that made them eligible for up to $18.25 million over that time.

Answers in Genesis had to fight to get any of it. That’s because the rebate was designed for for-profit businesses that play by the rules. Ark Encounter, however, was a Christian ministry that required employees to agree to their Statement of Faith (which says the universe is only a few thousand years old and gay people can’t get married). A lawsuit was filed over it, but U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled in 2016 that Ark Encounter couldn’t be excluded from the rebate program over their religious beliefs. As long as they were bringing tourists to the state, the judge said, they ought to be eligible for the money.

To put that another way, a Kentucky judge — who was appointed by President George W. Bush and once served as a legislative assistant for Senator Mitch McConnell — found a way to make a Christian ministry eligible for tax incentives funded by taxpayers.

Because Republican Governor Matt Bevin was now in charge, as opposed to the previous governor, Democrat Steve Beshear, the state didn’t appeal the ruling.

The rebate was then suspended this past summer. That’s because Ken Ham, in an effort to avoid paying a local safety fee worth $0.50-per-ticket, “sold” the for-profit Ark Encounter to a non-profit ministry he also runs.

That broke the rules of the tax rebate, which only applied to for-profit attractions. So Kentucky officials said the deal was off.

Ken Ham had screwed himself out of $18.25 million over the next decade because he didn’t want to pay a local safety fee worth about $700,000 a year. #CreationistMath.

But then he sold the Ark back to his for-profit business, and the tax rebate was reinstated.

After all that, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports today that Kentucky has finally sent the first check to Ken Ham’s baby.

Ark Encounter… will get a $1.8 million tax rebate from Kentucky this year as part of its 10-year tourism tax incentive agreement with the state.

… Ark Encounter, which opened in early July 2016, generated more than $2.28 million in sales taxes in its first year, according to the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

That total doesn’t include the several weeks from this summer when Ark Encounter was technically a non-profit, but that’s irrelevant. Ark Encounter was never going to get more than $1.825 million a year (over ten years), and they hit that mark this time around.

We don’t know what this means in terms of first-year attendance since the sales taxes apply to more than just tickets. It’s not just a question of doing the math. But I’ve said before that I don’t think there’s going to be a huge bump in the future. This isn’t the sort of museum that requires multiple visits or changes its attractions. It’s a one trick pony.

But Ham’s boat would have to sink quite a bit to avoid getting the same amount of money from the state in future years.

(Thanks to Dan for the link)

Jim Helton: Ark Encounter Is a Disaster (But It Won’t Shut Down Anytime Soon)

At a recent conference, Seth Andrews spoke with Jim Helton of the Tri-State Freethinkers about the disaster that is Ark Encounter.

Jim has led multiple protests against Ken Ham and the Ark for promoting myth in the name of science, exaggerating (or lying about) the benefits to the community, and pulling all sorts of shady accounting tricks to get tax breaks they don’t deserve.

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Near the end of the video, Jim puts to rest all those claims by atheists that the Ark will go bankrupt or close down. It’s not going anywhere. It’s making money. The bigger problem here is that the money they make isn’t trickling back to the schools, city, or state. At least not at the rate Ken Ham and his team led everyone to believe it would.

(via TheThinkingAtheist)

New Ads for the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter Push Spectacle Over Science

Creationist Ken Ham just released two new commercials advertising the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter — they’re coming soon to “many cable channels” — and neither of them should make people want to visit the attractions.

The Creation Museum ad features curious children saying things like “I wonder why this tomato is red” and “I wonder what makes dirt so dirty.” Those are interesting questions… that never get answered.

Eventually, one girl asks, “I wonder if the Garden of Eden was real.”

CuriosityStifledAdCM

Why are tomatoes red? It has to do with the pigments chlorophyll and lycopene. And natural selection. Which is another way to say there’s a scientific explanation for it. Which is another way to say the Creation Museum doesn’t answer this question.

Why is dirt dirty? Because it’s dirt, dammit. Whatever that question means, there’s some fascinating science involving dirt’s power that, again, you won’t find in the Creation Museum.

And the last question — the main question — is both sad and silly. Sad, because this child has a wonderful curiosity that’s about to be stifled by people who think giving her a simple (false) answer is the best way to satisfy her mind. Silly, because just showing an exhibit of the Garden doesn’t prove it’s real. That’s like going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to find out if Diagon Alley exists.

The second commercial, for Ark Encounter, doesn’t even pretend it’s based in science. The entire selling point is “It’s big.”

The best part about the ad? Saying to yourself “That’s what she said” after the grandpa proclaims “It can’t be that big!”

Even afterwards, though, when the couple visits the Ark, we see them staring at it from the outside, eating in the restaurant, pointing at something, and walking around.

You never once see an exhibit. In other words, science isn’t on display here. Answers in Genesis is merely selling the spectacle of it all.

They could’ve saved a lot of time and effort by just setting fire to a giant pit filled with $100 million. At least people would have interesting discussions afterwards.

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