Kentucky Gives Creationist Theme Park 75% Tax Discount


Written by Marie Diamond, a ThinkProgress blogger

In May, ThinkProgress reported that Kentucky approved a $43 million tax break for Ark Encounter, a Bible-themed amusement park that religious organizations are building outside Williamstown. Now the state is giving the creationist project another kickback in the form of a 75 percent property tax discount over the next 30 years:

Mayor Rick Skinner said the offer is laid out in a memorandum of agreement that will be followed by a formal tax-increment financing deal with Petersburg-based Ark Encounters LLC in coming months.

The tax deal is in addition to almost $200,000 given to the company by Grant County’s economic development arm as an enticement to keep the project located there, along with 100 acres of reduced-price land.

And thatís not counting the state’s promise of $40 million worth of sales tax rebates and a possible $11 million in improvements to the interstate near the project that would be financed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that “the array of state and local incentives worry some people, who aren’t sure they will pay off in the end.” That group includes local officials like City Council member and former Mayor Glenn Caldwell who worries that residents might “be burdened with additional costs because of this project.”

Proponents of the project, including Gov. Steve Beshear (D) say it will create up to 900 jobs and attract 1.6 million tourists in its first year. However, as TPM notes, “those numbers were based on a feasibility study, commissioned by Ark Encounters LLC, that state officials reportedly never actually saw.”

The multiple tax breaks for the amusement park come at a time when Kentucky families are struggling from eight rounds of state budget cuts over the past three years. That includes cuts to education at all levels, a pay freeze for all teachers and state workers, and reduced funding for Medicaid.

The state already has a Creationism Museum, and the complementary amusement park includes biblical exhibits like the Tower of Babel and a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark…complete with dinosaurs inside (which creationists believe co-existed with early man). It’s slated to open in the spring of 2014.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

Related Stories:

Austrian Man Wins Right to Wear Pasta Strainer in License Photo

Most Beauty Queens Believe Evolution Shouldn’t Be Taught in Schools (Video)

Tennessee Legislator: Einstein Would Have Supported Creationism (Video)

Photo from jimforest via flickr creative commons


Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Separation of church and state!!!!!

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer6 years ago

Jack W
You fought in Nam yet the very thing you and every American soldier fights for you would deny others because you don't believe in what they say. Sorry but those who fight to keep America free fight so that every American can enjoy the freedoms so many gave their all for. You sound like the shooter in Norway or the sovereignists who shoot the cops when they pull them over or members of the Bush administration who thought dissent was treasonous and that blind allegiance was required.
(May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. Dwight D. Eisenhower ).

"all you liberals attacking the Christian religion." The religion that is being discussed in this forum is not a religion that even Jesus could recognize because nothing these churches preach can be found in any of the teachings of Jesus. They preach greed, ignorance, intolerance and a complete disdain for those less fortunate. Jesus words at the Final Judgment will say it all... "Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”"

My new blog:

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago

This organization and any and all religious organization should pay taxes.

Leslie H.
Leslie H6 years ago

Are they going to get a profit from the park? Then they don't get a break as a religious institution.

You know what will bring more money and people to my state? Better education and better jobs (more then 900). The better our infrastructure at all levels, the more people will want to come and LIVE in our state and provide way more money than tourism dollars--property tax, sales tax, spending at local shops, income tax--all for decades.

AAARRRGGHHH. Sorry, this is a bit of a sore subject....

David F.
Barbara F6 years ago

Jack W., if you hate everyone on this website, why are you here? Have you nothing better to do with your time than spew venom at those with whom you disagree?

I would like to address your points individually:

1. You claim that "your country is going to the dogs..." The last time I checked, the country was not owned by you. There are over 350 million of us who share ownership in this country.

2. You claim that Liberals are attacking Christianity. I am both Christian and Liberal. I am attacking no one or their religion. Everyone is free to believe what they wish.

3. You claim it is hard to be a Christian, then attack Jesus Christ because he asked us to do something you can't -- love our enemy. You want to kill everyone, including those of us who read and post here. At this point, I question if you are a Christian. I was never taught to hate anybody for any reason. I may not like their actions or agree with their principles, but to kill them? I think not.

4. You want to join the group that kills people and runs the country like the Nazis did? It sounds to me more like a Middle-Eastern type of mindset than a Christian American value.

I don't know if you received an overdose of agent orange, or if you are just a f*****g a**hole, or both. Either way, you need professional help. I actually feel sorry for you with so much pent-up anger and hate. Life is too short to spend it fueling the fires of hate and destruction. I sincerely hope you get the help you need and se

Thomas C.
Thomas Camoin6 years ago


Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

I can see both sides of this deal if it will provide Jobs and tourism it will be good for the state and comunity. However I think the studies should have been looked at closely to determine the numbers were accurate. Giving that buisness a tax break is no differant from giving one to a water park, distribution whearhouse or a factory. all the state is wanting to do is creat jobs.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Jack W. Do you not realize that fascism is already here, regrettably, it is you and your right wing Christian "friends". Possibly, Mahatma Gandhi once said it best.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.~ Gandhi

You need not worry about those of us, you need to look within.

DH C, Spoke about the Christian Right becoming Americas Taliban, while I take exception to the use of the Taliban as an example of absolute evil, I do agree with his point.

DH C when on to point out that fortune tellers must pay taxes, I suppose all charlatans should, including the Christian church and its appendages, such as this "amusement park".

Albert Schweitzer was quoted in saying:

Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.

Mitch D arrived straight to the point with his statement about a fictional Theme Park dedicated to Allah, alerting us to the fervor that would arise if it were to receive the same tax benefits as todays Christian parks and churches enjoy.
On June 16th, 1858, in Springfield, Mass., Abraham Lincoln stated in a speech, what was to become a self fulling prophesy : "A house divided against itself cannot stand".

What you propose, no, promise is just that, the destruction of America. You and many like you are prepared to destroy America in order to, in your mind, to save her.

Mark Alan Dellavecchia

Actually Jack W., The Nazi-fascists you talk about were right-wingers and anything but "Liberal." One of my biggest current fears, is that this country will embrace some nut-job tea-bagger like Bachmann or Palin and we will have our own Fuhrer to contend with.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

"First they came…" is a famous statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The text of the quotation is usually presented roughly as above. There is some disagreement over the exact wording of the quotation and when it was created; indeed, the content of the quotation may have been presented differently by Niemöller on different occasions.

Leanne Hildebrand

This is just beyond comprehension - over 100 million dollars to promote a dangerous fantasy. That comes out to over $1 million dollars per job created - do ya think they might have come up with a better way to create jobs for that kind of money ?? If I were a Kentucky tax payer I'd be up in arms !!!!

The state is basically subsidizing a church - pardon me, but isn't that illegal ?