James Maxwell Koffler*
When I first read that Williamstown, Kentucky [a state], was going to be the bond issuer in a multi-million dollar bond offering to finance the building of a replica of Noah’s Ark, I thought that it was a hoax. Unfortunately, it is true. This convergence of forces is sure to have Jefferson and Madison rolling over in their graves as two of the things that they distrusted most were “stock-jobbing” and the commingling of religious and state funds.
Apparently the founder of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham, is in the market to expand his land of make-believe, to include a theme park built around the “Ark Encounter.” The Executive Summary for the Ark Encounter (available on this linked page) states that the project hopes to “rebuild” the Ark as well as, eventually, the world before the flood as told in Genesis. The first attraction will be a model Noah’s Ark containing live animals. If that creation is successful then they might build the Tower of Babel, and a frightening Children’s Area where youth can “play in and learn about God’s creation.”
While I am all for this being created, so long a s the animal’s are treated well, the government should not be helping to fund this. To recapitulate, a governmental entity subject to the restraints of the Establishment Clause under the theory of incorporation is sponsoring municipal bonds to fund a project so that visitors to the Ark “will have a saving encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ[.]” I do not think that any religious individual should be thrilled to have a municipality helping to fund the first step towards building a theme park for “the greatest story ever [s]old.” Having the government actively involved in tipping the scales towards a particular religious belief in the marketplace sets an extraordinarily bad precedent.
On the other hand, here is hoping that Stamford, Connecticut chooses to help me fund my “Trek to Tartarus” where kids can learn how Hades ran the Underworld.
*James Maxwell Koffler is a L.L.M. candidate at New York University School of Law, class of 2014, and a staff editor on the Journal of Law & Liberty.