Yahoo! News visited the Creation “Museum” this summer to behold the glory of a 600-year-old man riding vegan dragons onto a giant boat a few thousand years ago. In their report — besides the obvious gawking at the freak show — they give us the latest update on the “groundbreaking” for Ark Encounter, Gov. Steve Beshear’s answer to unemployment and dignity in Grant County.
As we began suspecting last year — due to horrid fundraising, groundbreakings pushed back over and over again, and the lack of a refund policy on their website — “Ark Encounter” might never actually be built, or at least nothing resembling their original $175 million plan, while Ken Ham & Co. take what they’ve raised and invest it in their Creation Museum.
And according to what our old friend Mike Zovath at AiG told Yahoo!, we feel no need to alter our interpretation of the situation:
But in June, in an interview in the Creation Museum’s “Noah’s Cafe,” Ark Encounter vice president Michael Zovath told Yahoo News that the group no longer has a date in mind for the construction to begin. It has been unable to raise sufficient amounts of money, despite pleas to the Creation Museum’s visitors to donate to the project.
“Fundraising is really tough,” Zovath said, blaming the recession. “It’s not moving so fast as we hoped.” The private LLC that is building the park would need to raise another $20 million before it can break ground, he said. So far, it’s taken in $5.6 million in donations and $17 million in private investments.
That $5.6 million looks even worse when you factor in that Answers in Genesis hit the $5 million mark all the way back in February. Assuming they can keep that pace, they will reach their goal for groundbreaking in approximately 2028 (yes, we did the math).
But there’s even more bad news for cult leader Ken Ham in the story:
To add to the bad news, the Creation Museum is having its lowest attendance year yet. Last fiscal year, 280,000 people visited, compared to 404,000 the first year it opened in 2007.
That’s funny. Because I tend to recall Ken Ham spending millions of dollars recently on billboards promoting the “museum,” plus new exhibits and space there. So you have declining revenue at the Creation Museum… plus a groundbreaking for Ark Encounter that keeps getting pushed back to eternity… and about $5 million raised for the park, given directly to AiG with no refund policy if it doesn’t get built… and about that same amount of money poured into the fading Creation Museum by AiG.
And then you have the hundreds of acres of land in Grant County that AiG has bought (and been given by local government to create dino-jobs), which the state has already allocated $2 million in infrastructure improvements for, with $9 million more to come. You know, to accommodate the 2 million people a year that will come to Ark Encounter. And if Ark Encounter doesn’t get built… well, that land with greatly improved infrastructure will certainly sell for a better price, won’t it AiG?
So you have investors and taxpayers potentially conned, but what’s the worst con of all happening here? The Yahoo! story’s ending points the way:
But many visitors—even the littlest ones—seemed very familiar with evolution.
When I visited in June, a girl who looked about 10 years old rushed up to an exhibit that showed a giant hummingbird. Next to it, in shadow, were three other creatures—a pterodactyl, a bat and a small finch. “Look, this is evolution!” she said, pointing at the four creatures.
Her mother jerked her head around and walked up behind the girl. “You know what, honey? Those are just other animals that are designed to fly,” she said, pointing at the exhibit’s description.
“Oh,” the little girl said, embarrassed she’d gotten it wrong.
Yes, there’s also that. Maybe one day in the distant future, even an embarrassed Gov. Beshear can admit he was (actually) wrong, too.