The New Yorker:

A creationist offers a tour of a giant pretend Noah’s ark in Kentucky, which stands to earn eighteen million dollars in tax breaks thanks to the new Speaker of the House.

By Oliver Whang

One criticism of Mike Johnson, the new Speaker of the House, is that he doesn’t have much experience in Congress, but that’s not strictly true. Johnson was once the lawyer for a pretend Noah’s ark, and during that time he gained some conceptual experience with many animals, including a congress of salamanders. The ark is in the horse country of northern Kentucky, and it was built to the specifications given by God to Noah in Genesis. That’s three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high, or five hundred and ten feet by eighty-five by fifty-one. In the words of a cartoon giraffe featured on the side of a bus that transports visitors to the ark, “It’s SOOOOO big!”

Ark Encounter, as the attraction is known, was opened in 2016 by a Christian-fundamentalist nonprofit called Answers in Genesis. It was the vision of the group’s young-Earth-creationist founder, Ken Ham, and cost more than a hundred million dollars. Kentucky offers a tax incentive to big tourist attractions; for Ark Encounter, this could add up to ongoing rebates totalling eighteen million dollars. But in 2014 the state blocked Ark Encounter’s incentive; the organization, it turns out, requires its employees to make a “statement of faith,” which labels homosexuality an abhorrence and rejects modern science. At the time, Johnson was an attorney for the religious legal-advocacy group Freedom Guard, and he sued on behalf of Ham and Ark Encounter, claiming that the State of Kentucky had engaged in religious discrimination. Johnson said that the suit was about “the free exercise of religion.” The state lost.

Go to link