Noah's Ark Theme Park Gets Final Go-Ahead In Kentucky

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Things are about to get Biblical in Kentucky. On Thursday, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority gave final approval to grant $40 million in tax rebates to build a biblical theme park called "The Ark Encounter."

The controversial museum, backed in part by Mike Zovath, a co-founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry which previously built Kentucky's 70,00 square-foot Creation Museum, got the funding after months of back and forth over the legitimacy of a religious attraction being funded by a state government.

No matter, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority voted unanimously to grant more than $40 million in tax rebates for the project, which is scheduled to cost $172 million (visitors to the Ark's website see a "donate here" tab).

Zovath told the Associated Press: "This was the last real hurdle for us as far as I'm concerned." Zovath's purpose, he claims, is to dispel doubts about the biblical event.

The project will include a replica of the Tower of Babel, lecture halls, shops, theaters and, of course, a petting zoo (will there be 2 of every animal?) and live shows. ABC News reported in December, when plans were first announced, that the ark will be taller than a 3-story building, the deck longer than 35 tennis courts, and would be big enough to fit 600 train cars inside.

A consultant who reviewed the proposal for the state's Tourism board said that the project will probably draw 1.4 million visitors per year. That's what Governor Steve Beshear is aiming for, at least. He hopes the park will employ some 600 to 700 people and will bring in $250 million in the first year alone. For those who are counting, the Creation Museum has drawn more than 1 million visitors since it opened over 3 years ago.

But Americans United for Separation of Church and State have something else to say. The company's executive director, Barry W. Lynn, told the AP that Kentucky "should not be promoting the spread of fundamentalist Christianity or any other religious viewpoint. Let these folks build their fundamentalist Disneyland without government help." He added: "This misguided project deserves to sink." (Get it?)

Zovath's response: "The more they try to paint us in a bad light, the more opportunities we have to explain the project."

Check out the plans in a video below:

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