The plan to build a life-sized reconstruction of Noah's Ark is underway, but it is not without controversy.
Yahoo News reports that the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis is planning to open a themed attraction in Williamstown, Kentucky, with the Biblical flood and Noah's Ark as its central attraction. However, the project is being hampered by a federal court lawsuit after the developers had their second application for an $18 million sales tax rebate rejected.
The rejection of the tax incentives follows after developers announced they would only hire fundamentalist Christian workers. The state rejected the second application for the multi-million sales tax rebate because of "religious indoctrination." Now the builders are suing federal court so they can have the incentives re-instated and released after the park opens.
In 2011, the state approved the tourism tax incentive for the project. Unfortunately, the ark lacked the funds to complete the development more quickly. The delay meant that the builders of the ark had to re-apply for the tax incentive but were rejected a second time around.
The project has hope in the election of a Republican governor who will take office in 2016. The candidate has said that he would support the rebate if he won the seat.
Fox News reports that now that Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin will take office in 2016, the tax rebate would be considered as good as done. Bevin is expected to drop the court defense and reinstate the tax rebate program for the Ark project.
Nevertheless, the controversies don't stop there. The group behind Answers in Genesis has received a lot of flak, especially from secular groups, for espousing the belief that the world is a mere 6,000 years old.
One of the critics is TV star Bill Nye, who has said the project can misguide young people from appreciating science. Nye does not believe that Noah's Ark ever existed. If it had, it would have been destroyed by the sea.
But the huge, 510-foot-long ark is only the first phase of a large religious-themed park. The long boat itself costs USD 90 million. The bow and stern will be constructed soon.
Ham says: "We make no apology about our Christian message. ... We have never hidden the fact that our purpose is to spread the truth of God's word and its life-changing gospel message."
Using Genesis 7:7 as the premise, the Ark Encounter's grand opening date will fall on July 7, 2016 when the public can begin entering the Ark. For more information on the Ark Encounter, visit the Answers in Genesis website here.