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Kentucky approves state funding to expand Creation Museum

posted by Grace Yukich

Should the state be in the business of funding private religious projects, even if they could boost the well-being of local economies? According to an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority recently allocated more than $40 million in tax incentives for a planned expansion to the controversial Creation Museum: The Ark Encounter, a theme park designed to demonstrate the literal truth of the biblical story of Noah’s ark by featuring a full-size replica of the ark including live animals, was conceived by the same conservative Christian ministry that built the Creation Museum. Even Kentucky’s Democratic governor supports state funding for the project, arguing that it will bring 900 jobs to the area. Of course, as the editorial points out, “public money is not supposed to pay to advance religion.”

If the museum was instead an effort to demonstrate the historicity of certain stories in the Koran, would the state be willing to offer similar funding? What about a museum funded by an atheist group purposefully designed to demonstrate the falsity of the Bible and other religious texts?  Even if the state would fund these hypothetical projects—if religious neutrality were possible—is this really an appropriate use of public money?

Read the NYT story here.

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One Response to “Kentucky approves state funding to expand Creation Museum”

  1. avatar Mark Looy says:

    Here is a letter to the editor of the Times to correct its misrepresentation of the Ark project’s funding:

    Editor: A May 30 editorial leads readers to the wrong conclusion about the proposed Ark Encounter attraction in northern Kentucky. Taxpayers, contrary to what was stated, will not see their money used to build or operate the Ark Encounter. No money will be taken out of the state’s budget to fund the Ark.

    If the Ark meets attendance goals and sees tourism dollars flow into the state, it will receive partial rebates on sales taxes paid by its visitors. At the end of an operating year, the money going back to the attraction will be from those who chose to visit; no unwilling taxpayer will subsidize the Ark. Thus, there is no establishment of religion. Neither is anyone being forced to visit and hear about the history of the Earth according to the Bible, including its account of the Ark.

    It’s too bad the Times wasn’t able to better fact-check its piece.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Looy
    CCO
    Ark Encounter/Creation Museum

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