The state of Kentucky has withdrawn a tax break worth $18 million from the Ark Encounter, a creationist museum built by Answers in Genesis, alleging that its ownership was transferred to a nonprofit affiliate without notifying or receiving permission from state officials.
Back in June, Answers in Genesis transferred ownership of the museum to Crosswater Canyon, LLC, a nonprofit group.
“From an IRS perspective, it’s a flow-through from Answers in Genesis through Crosswater Canyon,” Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, told popular science educator Bill Nye during a visit to the Ark Encounter. “So it’s viewed as a not-for-profit, but we set it up as a for-profit so that we pay property taxes so that we help the community.”
In a letter to the museum’s law firm, state officials wrote, “The owner of the Ark Project, upon which the tax incentives is based, is an ‘eligible company’.”
“If Crosswater Canyon, LLC, a non-profit legal entity is now the owner of the Ark Project, then the owner of the project has not been established as an eligible company.”
The Ark Encounter opened in Williamstown, Kentucky in July 2016.
The $92 million project is a full-scale model of Noah’s Ark, 510 feet long and 81 feet high, and reinforced with concrete and steel.
The various exhibits, which include dinosaur replicas inside cages, were built by Amish craftsmen.
The museum also contains exhibits with a science-like aesthetic discussing the young Earth beliefs about the Ice Age as a result of Noah’s flood and climate change being a local phenomenon.
Answers in Genesis told CNN that the museum would attract over 1 million visitors in its first year and bring in $40 billion in revenue.
It ended up drawing only 645,000, frustrating state tourism officials.
Ken Ham blamed the lack of attendance on atheists and the secular media.
“Sadly, they are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking,” Ham said.
“Why so many lies and misinformation, simply because we are in a spiritual battle, and the intolerant secularists are so upset with such world-class attractions like the Ark and Creation Museum that publicly proclaim a Christian message?”