A number of articles have shown that Ken Ham‘s Ark Encounter is failing in one key way: It hasn’t provided an economic boost to the very communities that sacrificed so much to have them build the attraction in their backyard.
Ken Ham wants to push back against that narrative (for obvious reasons), and he’s finally figured out how to do it. Instead of taking responsibility for his underwhelming Ark, or offering an excuse like it’s too early to see economic growth resulting from the attraction, he’s blaming atheists for the negative publicity.
Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure. 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.
If people like me writing a few sentences at a time can get in the way of an entire county’s economic recovery, then maybe Ham’s business plan was bad to begin with…
To be sure, Ham points out some valid concerns about an article in the Lexington Herald Leader. Reporter Linda Blackford quoted an owner of a “Snack Shack,” Matt Griffith, who said customers hadn’t been coming in like he had hoped. In fact, we’re told, he “closed it down for three months over the winter,” presumably because of that low attendance.
Ham got in touch with Griffith, who told him that’s not true. In an email to Ham, Griffith wrote:
Very interesting that she put that “we closed down,” because that was something she asked me about. I explained it was due to the sewer lines needing replaced. So I guess she somewhat skewed what I said.
That’s no small mistake on the reporter’s end. But notice there’s no denial of Griffith’s statement that “those hordes have not yet appeared.”
Another person Blackford quoted was Bren Murphy, a coffee shop owner who said Ark visitors “don’t get to her shop.” But, in a Facebook post Ham cites, Murphy said the Ark doesn’t bear all of the blame:
Since opening in October 2016 I have had a wonderful flow of visitors with approx 4% of my recorded sales being from Ark Visitors. This is NOT the ARKS fault.. this is NOT the cities fault… it IS ALL OF OUR faults for not doing what is necessary to make the RIGHT NOW changes that need to be made so that everyone wins…
So the Ark isn’t entirely to blame. But it’s not helping in a huge way either.
(I’ve reached out to Blackford to see if she has a response to those comments.)
Her article, however, noted a lot of examples of how Ark Encounter is basically fleecing the city of Williamstown and Grant County. Ham didn’t respond to most of those, so I assume that means they’re accurate. Ham also bragged about high attendance over the past weekend, though it’s hardly indicative of what’s normal. Of course they’re going to get more people through the doors over the summer. It’s the rest of the year when we should all have doubts about their attendance, and we won’t know until next month (at least) what their actual attendance has been for the past year.
Keep in mind that’s just one measure of success. The other is whether local business really are thriving. There just aren’t many owners saying “My business is doing great because of Ark Encounter.” There are planned hotels and restaurants, but until they’re up and about and filled to capacity, who knows if they’ll be a worthwhile investment. And let’s be honest: A few places getting a few more customers isn’t really anything to celebrate.
None of that justifies a $100 million Ark that miseducates people.
But Ham’s still blaming his critics.
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 attraction like the Ark (and Creation Museum) that publicly proclaim a Christian message. They will resort to whatever tactics they deem necessary to try to malign the attractions.
We don’t need to make up reasons to condemn the Ark. The pictures of the exhibits and Ham’s own words provide more than enough proof that these people have no idea what they’re talking about. We know they’re spreading lies. The economic impact is a different story, and the jury is still out on that… though the evidence we have so far doesn’t indicate that Ark Encounter has been worthwhile for the nearby communities.
We’re not going to stop pointing that out. Ken Ham can blame us all he wants, but his team promised Williamstown and Grant County the moon and the stars when they wanted help building their Ark with as little of their own money as possible. It’s now up to Answers in Genesis to deliver on that promise.
(Thanks to Dan for the link)