Politics

A Noah’s Ark attraction built by the group Answers in Genesis is ready to open in northern Kentucky. The group held an open house for media and donors Tuesday at the $100 million park near Williamstown, Kentucky.

The long-awaited Ark Encounter theme park is based on the Old Testament story. The centerpiece is a 510-foot wooden ark, filled with exhibits based on descriptions in the Bible.

Ark EncounterRick Howlett | wfpl.org

Its construction has rankled opponents who say the attraction will be detrimental to science education. They’ve also criticized the group’s faith-based hiring practices, which were at the core of a legal battle over tax rebates awarded, then withdrawn by the state.

That case was won by Answers in Genesis. Founder Ken Ham says a federal judge rightly ruled that religious preference in hiring is legal.

“It makes sense,” Ham says. “I can’t think of Planned Parenthood employing someone like me in there. Or I can’t think of the American Atheists wanting to employ me as the head of the American Atheists.”

Ham says up to two million people could visit the ark in its first year. It will open to the public Thursday. 

Ark EncounterRick Howlett | wfpl.org

Among the thousands of spectators on Tuesday was donor Al Masselink, who traveled from Phoenix, Arizona with his family for the occasion.

Masselink says he had his doubts when Ham announced plans to build the park.

“But he’s pulled off so many other wonderful….the Creation Museum, he’s got so many wonderful books and articles and publications out that if someone had a chance it was him,” Masselink said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.