If there’s one thing we know about Creationist Ken Ham, it’s that he loves attention. He craves it. He doesn’t care if you’re criticizing him; he’ll let you do it, then tell his followers it’s just another example of Christian persecution.
It also means he welcomes people who take pictures or videos inside the Creation Museum or Ark Encounter. That’s free publicity, after all. I’ve been to the Creation Museum twice myself and took a bunch of pictures — and posted them online — without a problem. When Ark Encounter opened last summer, we sent Tracey Moody to broadcast live from inside the attraction, and that was fine too. Let’s give Ken Ham credit for that — he’s not afraid or ashamed of what’s inside his buildings and he welcomes those who broadcast his exhibits to the world.
That’s why it’s so strange to watch what happened to Rick Sare when he visited Ark Encounter on Sunday. Sare makes daily videos using Google Glass and a phone, and since a bunch of his buddies had visited the Ark Park already, he thought he’d do the same.
As you watch his video, he’s not like a typical atheist criticizing the exhibits or explaining why they’re wrong. He’s actually intrigued by what he’s seeing and has plenty of good things to say. At one point, he even comments:
They did put money into this attraction, though. It’s definitely worth stopping by. So if you’re out traveling across America and you want to see an awesome roadside attraction, this isn’t too bad.
He’s exactly the type of visitor Ham should want at Ark Encounter. He’s not a fundamentalist Christian. He’s just someone who wants to explore the country, heard this place was interesting, and came to check it out for himself. Almost the entire video serves as a lengthy commercial for the place.
During his visit, Sare also has conversations with multiple staffers, without incident. They’re sweet. They ask him what he’s videotaping for, and he answers honestly that it’s for his blog. No problem. He’s not bothering the other visitors. He’s just enjoying himself as he observes the various exhibits.
But then, near the very end of the video (around 12:10), a security guard pulls him aside to tell him he needs to stop videotaping and delete the footage because it’s not allowed.
Sare says he’s not going to delete the footage he has — and adds that he’s broadcasting live, which makes deleting the footage impossible anyway — so then he’s kicked out for good. There goes $42.50.
My first reaction was to ask what he did wrong. He wasn’t bothering anyone. He wasn’t being sneaky. Plenty of staffers saw him videotaping without incident. So what gives?! The guard had no good explanation.
The only answer I can come up with is that Sare was inadvertently videotaping some of the video animations that play near the exhibits, and maybe Ark Encounter didn’t want those clips getting out… but that’s also strange since I’ve seen plenty of videos of those clips in the past. (Tracey even took a video of how they handle poop on the Ark.)
If that was the reason, couldn’t the guard have been more explicit about it? What a way to treat a paying customer who was giving you a great review…
Just before he’s kicked out, Sare tells his viewers, “I will talk to you all later… Avoid this attraction!” Back in his truck, Sare still can’t believe what happened. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
It’s Sunday night as I’m writing this, so Ark Encounter isn’t open for me to get their take on this, but I’ll call them in the morning to hear their side of the story. As it stands right now, though, it looks like Ken Ham found a way to turn a potential fan and enthusiast into another critic. All because he wanted to give Ark Encounter free publicity.
***Update*** (9:10a): A phone number for Ark Encounter directed me to a voice mailbox that was full. So I sent an email message asking for further explanation. I’m still waiting for a response.
***Update 2*** (3/8): See the response from Ark Encounter in the comments.