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So Noah Built an Arky, Arky…

New Noah’s Ark in Ky. aims to prove truth of Bible

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah’s followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.

It’s an expansion of the ministry’s first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.

“The ark is really a different approach” than the museum, Mark Zovath (the project director) said. “It’s really not about creation-evolution, it’s about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis.”

Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum’s dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.

State officials are banking on the park’s success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.

Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.

“Noah didn’t get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn’t either,” the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.

Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.