Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anderson Cooper 360 Tackles Noah's Ark

Anderson Cooper conducted an interview with Ken Ham and Barry Lynn about the new amusement park that is being built in Kentucky centred around Noah's Ark. The transcript is here and the story begins about a third of the way in. Here is an excerpt:

Its purpose primarily is to try -- on the Web site of Answers in Genesis, it says this -- to convince the world, including those of us in America, that there is a literal truth to the Bible. And that includes the literal truth of the story of a worldwide flood and Noah's Ark.

So, it would be very -- I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who looks at this project and doesn't see this as a ministry. And that's precisely what's wrong with the government of Kentucky, the state, helping to subsidize it.

COOPER: Mr. Ham, are you trying to convert people here?

HAM: You know, first of all, it's not Answers in Genesis that owns the Ark Encounter. The Ark Encounter is a profit organization. Answers in Genesis is just a member. You need to understand that.

And, secondly, the -- the government of Kentucky is not subsidizing the Ark Encounter. They have an economic incentive program available for anyone. In fact, they can't have viewpoint discrimination, as Barry Lynn would like to have.

And because of the economic incentive program, we, like anyone else, if we fulfill the criteria of that -- and there are five criteria -- it doesn't involve the state endorsing any particular religion or anything like that.

In fact, the Ark Encounter is not a religion. It is a theme park. It is centered around biblical history. And -- and the state is not going to have viewpoint discrimination just because it's a theme park centered around biblical history.

LYNN: No, no, but, see, that is fundamentally wrong.

The truth of the matter is that this park, whether it's partially private or partially for-profit, it is promoting the one thing that the other groups getting subsidies don't promote, and that is a specific religious viewpoint.

Aside from the legal issues, I was horrified just a few weeks ago when the governor, Steve Beshear, of Kentucky stands up there with folks from this Ark park and basically gives his blessing to what -- let's just call them unorthodox ideas from Answers in Genesis.
As much as I disagree with Barry Lynn most of the time, he has a point here. This is a particular point of view that is being expressed and Lynn is correct that it entails at least tacit support for an initiative that is purely religiously based, whether or not Ken Ham wishes to acknowledge this. This makes Ham's response somewhat naïve. The Koran carries within it history as well, but no one would construe an amusement park based on the Koran as being anything other than Muslim-based.

As far as the legal end of things is concerned, if Ham is correct that they really have met all five of the criteria, then there is little that can stand in the way of the incentive program.

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1 comment:

  1. It seems many are misunderstanding the tax incentive Kentucky offers for tourism. It's not a subsidy, but a rebate, if certain performance-based requirements are met. It only offers the rebate if the tourism business has proven itself to be beneficial to state revenues.

    Some media outlets are apparently mistaken, but others seem to stubbornly stick to their mistake, even after corrected.