Monday, November 18, 2013

Slate Opines on Ken Ham, The Ark Encounter and Junk Bonds

Mark Joseph Stern has a piece in Slate that examines the new financing plan that Ken Ham and the Ark Encounter (Ark-n-Park) are enacting to raise money for the endeavor.  He writes:
Before Ham can usher in a new era of mass destruction “to separate and to purify those who believe in Him from those who don’t,” as he wrote in his newsletter to supporters, he’ll need to actually build his ark—and three years after first announcing the project, he hasn’t even broken ground. The project’s first phase will require $73 million in total, and $24 million just to commence construction. (The state of Kentucky generously offered to toss in $37.5 million worth of tax breaks, though those will expire in 2014.) The next phases will require $52.6 million. Thus far, Answers in Genesis has raised $13.6 million—just 10 percent of an optimistic estimate of the total cost. For a while, Ham maintained public silence on the delay.
Then he hatched a plan. As Josh Rosenau reported here, Ham came up with the idea of selling bonds to investors to finance the remainder of the project.  Why is this a problem? 
As Answers in Genesis readily admits, the bonds “are not expected to have any substantial secondary market” and are “not an obligation of AiG.” Somewhat alarmingly, the bonds are unrated, an indication that they’re extremely risky—and almost impossible to resell. High risk, higher yield: These, in essence, are creationist junk bonds.
It is difficult for me to believe, in the current financial climate, that a large number of investors are going to go for this.  Further, as Stern reports, the way the bonds are structured, if the enterprise never gets off the ground, investors will lose everything they invested.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.  If it were me, and I had money to invest, I would certainly steer clear. 


  1. According to AiG, it took Noah 75 years to build the ark. So, there's still plenty of time, right?

  2. And Noah didn't have to rely on venture capitalists to do it, either!