WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. – It’s an attraction of truly biblical proportions.
An “authentic recreation” of Noah’s Ark is under construction in Williamstown, Ky. And it’s huge: 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and eight stories high.
The Ark Encounter project is the brainchild of Ken Ham, who runs a ministry dedicated to spreading Creationism, a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He believes God created the world in six days and six nights and rejects the idea that Earth is 4.5 billion years old.
When the ark is finished, people can pay to see it. Tickets for adults start at $40. Ham called the ark an “evangelical tool.”
“We didn’t build this just to be entertainment like Disney, we built it for a religious purpose,” Ham said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have built it.”
The state of Kentucky backs the project and is prepared to give $18 million is sales tax incentives. Job applications have flooded Ark Encounter, but there’s a catch.
Employees must sign a statement of faith that disavows homosexuality, same-sex marriage and premarital sex. Ham said they must also believe in Genesis and Jesus.
Some critics believe the state’s support of the project violates the separation of church and state, including Baptist minister Bob Fox.
“I believe, as a Baptist, in the separation of church and state and I don’t think that the state ought to be involved in promoting any particular religious views,” Fox said. “There’s kinds of laws called ‘Sharia,’ where people have used legislation and the government to promote a religious faith, and I think we as Christians need to be careful that we continue to be Christian, and to be Christian in the context of the United States.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said the state doesn’t discriminate against any worthy economic project.
Ham projects that up to 2 million people will visit the ark each year.
Here’s the description of the project from Ark Encounter’s website:
Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. Ark Encounter is situated in the beautiful Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington on I-75. From the moment you turn the corner and the towering Ark comes into view, to the friendly animals in the zoo, to the jaw-dropping exhibits inside the Ark, you’ll experience the pages of the Bible like never before.