Eddyville, KY

Opinion

Ark Experience and a flood a coincidence?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - Updated: 2:13 PM
By Jody Norwood

It’s hard not to note that the same week the Ark Experience opens in the north end of the state, a flood hits the western side.

I’m not sure if there’s a bigger message there from up on high, but I’ve got my own displeasure.

As a Christian and Kentuckian, I’m not a fan of the theme park.

The $100 million representation of Noah’s Ark opened Thursday in Williamstown, just north of Kentucky’s golden triangle and south of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Owners expect to tap into nearly $20 million in tax breaks over the next decade, according to reports by CNN and other media outlets.  

The money comes through the Department of Travel and Tourism with the blessing of Gov. Matt Bevin, who found enough time to promote the not-a-boat in between removing acknowledgements of his current political rival’s mother from state buildings.

Ark Encounters will also get the benefit of reduced property taxes.

There are two separate issues on why that’s a horrible idea.

The first is the First Amendment, and in the early days of the country to avoid combining religious beliefs with political ones. We did pretty good at keeping things separate until after the Civil War, and then disregarded that completely after the 1950s.

To me, it’s a completely selfish reason for wanting to keep religion out of lawmaking: I want to be the ones to teach my kids about religion, not the government.

What they believe and their spiritual well being is just as important as any other learning or health. And it should be up to the family to set those values, not a politician.

By giving money — my money, your money, anyone who pays taxes — the state is advocating a religious belief. The second reason is also a personal one.

I dislike the idea that people are cashing in on my religion to make money. And that’s what the Ark Experience is about, using a spiritual belief to rake in handfuls of cash.

Ticket prices range from $28 for children to $40 for adults, plus taxes (some of which goes back to the park) and parking.

That money in part goes to pay for all the stuff Noah had on the original Ark — the big screen televisions, zip lines, interactive displays and snack bars — in addition to paying for employees.

The money also goes to provide all the other things the Bible advocates, like live entertainment, a 900-seat auditorium and a 1,500-seat restaurant.

But a chunk of it goes back into the pockets of the owners, who have various for-profit and non-profit corporations having stakes in the theme park.

So far, in all the news stories and promotional materials, I’ve yet to read anything about the Ark Experience funds going to what the Bible advocates: helping people. There’s plenty on how they plan to expand and how the millions are being spent, but not a word on how those profits are going to start a food bank or house the homeless or provide medicine for the sick.

We’re only a week in, but hopefully if the rains do continue, they’ll float it down the Ohio out to sea.

 

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