Ken Ham: Local Reporter Who Covered Ark Encounter’s Failures is “Arkophobic” July 16, 2019

Ken Ham: Local Reporter Who Covered Ark Encounter’s Failures is “Arkophobic”

For years now, the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Linda Blackford has been writing about Creationist Ken Ham and his various attractions. No one understands the local issues at stake better than she does because she’s frequently reported on the Ark’s impact on businesses.

So when she watched the documentary “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” which shines a light on the people who work for the Ark as well as its critics, she isn’t just mourning the misinformation and lack of science. She’s mourning the tax dollars that go to the Ark and the relatively anemic response from the pro-science side (or at least our inability to prevent the Ark from having any influence).

It’s depressing to watch Ham instruct a room of children what to say if anyone suggests the earth is actually millions of years old. “WERE YOU THERE?” they shout in unison. It’s sad to see a handful of atheists gamely protest the park on a barren corner of I-75. It’s depressing to see science dismissed as merely an anti-Christian fad, or the footage of Vice President Mike Pence dodging questions about whether he believes in evolution, and think about our government’s dismissal of climate change science.

It’s also sad to see [geologist Dan] Phelps mourn his inability to stop state tax dollars from being used to subsidize the Ark. That, of course, is the crux of any outrage we should feel. People are free to believe anything they want, but in a country founded by those trying to escape religious dogmatism who made the separation between church and state a pillar of our society, it’s very trying to see Kentucky’s limited tax dollars being spent on this fundamentalist Disneyland.

It’s a fair-minded reaction, and I say that as one of those atheists who has protested on that barren corner of I-75.

But maybe the most depressing part of his article is one in which she speaks to a local business owner:

… One of the most poignant scenes in “We Believe in Dinosaurs” is at Elmer’s General Store, a performance venue and ice cream shop in downtown Williamstown, where the owners eagerly await the promised hordes of tourists with ice cream cones and a bluegrass band.

The day after I watched “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” I called Elmer’s, and owner Elmer Virgil picked up the phone.

“We’ve been closed for a year now,” he said. “There just weren’t enough people from the Ark.”

Yikes. Virgil was counting on an influx of tourists… but couldn’t keep his business running because Ken Ham overpromised and underdelivered.

It’s that anecdote more than anything that had Ham writing up a Trumpian tweet storm this morning:

This newspaper @heraldleader should be renamed the Lexington Herald Mis-Leader Tabloid. Sad that the editor would stoop so low and publish the tabloidish opinion column (a hit piece) by a reporter (Linda Blackford @lbblackford), that is nothing but…

…anti-Ark @ArkEncounter — with name calling and misinformation in an opinion piece filled with anti-Christian propaganda. Fake news at its finest! Because the Ark Encounter is so successful, greatly impacting Northern Kentucky tourism and contributing millions & millions of…

…dollars to the county, why has Blackford decided over the years to do all she can to spread untruths and use personal attacks to try to denigrate this Christian attraction? Seems she must be angry at the success & the newspaper must think stooping to new lows helps sell…

…papers. Blackford knows very well that no state funds have ever been used to build this attraction. Even in their opinion pieces, reporters should accurately report news. The reporter is Arkophobic & Christianophobic

Just because the rest of us live in a world where dinosaurs don’t have saddles and the Flintstones isn’t a documentary doesn’t mean we’re “Arkophobic & Christianophobic.” (By that logic, everyone who works for Ham is factphobic and repulsed by reality.)

But the anecdote with Virgil isn’t made up. She called him! That’s what he said! If Ham doesn’t believe it, then by all means, he can take a picture of himself, today, alongside the booming crowds in Elmer’s General Store. (Here. I found it for you.)

And yes, the state decided to reward Ark Encounter with more than $18 million in sales tax rebates — a reward usually reserved for secular tourist attractions. That’s millions of taxpayer dollars that shouldn’t be going to a religious ministry that refuses to hire Jews, atheists, LGBTQ people, or even progressive Christians. (A lawsuit to block the move was unsuccessful, and the Ark received the first check for $1.875 million in 2017.)

Ham’s argument has always been that a tax rebate isn’t the same thing as “state funds.” But it’s a distinction without a difference.

Still, it’s ironic how angry he is over the mere thought that people are spreading misinformation when telling lies about established truths is literally the core of his ministry.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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