Another AiG Government Bailout

When Answers in Genesis chief Ken Ham isn't dealing with employees being zotted by lightning, or getting schooled on theology by a college student, he's trying to build an amusement park centered on Noah's Ark. He wants it to be full-sized (assuming they're right about how long a cubit was), he wants it to be built by Amish carpenters (just like Noah’s was), he wants a mock first-century village, he wants to charge admission, and, as Daniel Phelps reports at Panda’s Thumb he hopes taxpayers as well as private citizens will cover part of the bill.

The project has already been promised a tourism-related state tax rebate and state road crews will widen the road leading to the park, but apparently the campaign to raise capital for construction has not been meeting expectations (neither has Creation Museum attendance, reportedly). So Ken Ham is looking for a new way to scare up money. He sent out an appeal to the Answers in Genesis mailing list offering people a chance to buy bonds to fund the park, bonds issued by the city of Williamstown, Kentucky.

This isn’t quite TARP, but the bonds will be a small government bailout for AiG, using the city’s borrowing power to cut the cost of loans to build the creationist theme park. That probably doesn’t violate the First Amendment, according to a church-state attorney I ran this past, though he observes, “Bond financing is quite complex, and the analysis can differ based on what precise type of bond financing we are talking about here.”

The bit of this story that I find endlessly amusing, though, is the way Ham explains this move. Instead of admitting that people who know how to read a business plan are staying away in droves, he writes:

Ken Ham: “In large part because of AiG’s strong biblical stand against the Obamacare legislation … AiG pursued a change in the Ark Encounter funding structure”I put the full letter below, but that underlined passage is the only explanation offered for this need to solicit money from small investors. And it just makes no sense at all.

First, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t mandate coverage for abortion. Indeed, since 1979, Kentucky law has forbidden insurers from covering abortion without the purchase of a separate insurance rider. My guess is that Ham is referring to the law’s mandate that insurers cover contraception, and claiming that birth control is actually abortion. This is a fairly common argument advanced by the radical religious right, since by defining pregnancy to begin at the moment of fertilization, rather than at implantation, and they can claim that birth control pills (including Plan B) cause abortion (PDF) by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg. Federal law and the medical community see it differently, but being at odds with the science is nothing new for Ham.

Second, there’s no logical link between Obamacare makes me pay for abortion (or Obamacare makes me pay for birth control) and therefore we’re selling municipal bonds. I contacted a specialist in birth control regulation at the Guttmacher Institute, hoping that she could explain what Ham might possibly have meant; she couldn’t fathom how municipal bonds would have anything to do with abortion or birth control coverage. At this point, I can’t rule out the possibility that he just wants to distract people from the fact that they’re way behind schedule for the park and can’t raise money to build an amusement park based on mass extinction, including the drowning of all but eight human beings.

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Josh Rosenau
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Josh Rosenau is a former Programs and Policy Director at NCSE.