When I heard last night that Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum were set to reopen on Monday, June 8 — in a couple of weeks — I thought it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen… but it’s not like they were alone. Kentucky’s governor said that museums and libraries and other attractions could all open back up on that date (with guidelines to come later) while some retail stores and restaurants would open this week.
So Creationist Ken Ham wasn’t doing anything unusual. Then again, he announced the re-opening by suggesting it was the only way for people to hear God’s Word:
For the past few weeks these facilities have been quiet with no sound of adults, teens, or kids excitedly learning about God’s Word. These world-class exhibits that proclaim the truth of God’s Word and the gospel have been quiet. We have been commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”… We can’t remain silent.
It should go without saying that virus doesn’t care about your “silence.” And it’s not like these Creationists haven’t had other ways to spread their misinformation. (After all, they just launched a streaming service.)
But here’s something more concerning: If you visit the Ark’s website, there’s a page that describes safety precautions they’re taking in the wake of the pandemic. All staffers, we’re told, will wear masks. Many will wear gloves.
Then there are the recommendations for visitors…
… Kentucky guidelines recommend that we strongly encourage our guests to wear a face covering for their mouth and nose when appropriate unless under age 2 or for medical reasons as per CDC guidance.
That’s good advice!
It’s too bad they’re not going to follow it.
Today, Ham said in a video that wearing masks would be completely optional for visitors, and that everyone should “respect” strangers who choose not to wear one.
… we’re just telling you what the state wants us to tell you, and that is, it’s highly recommended that you wear masks, but it’s not required, okay? And our guest services aren’t going to tell you you have to wear masks when you come. That’s your decision, for what you do, and we hope that those that don’t wear them and those that do wear them will respect each other, because that’s where it’s at…
Someone’s asking, “Do we need to wear masks?” It’s not a requirement, no. Read up on what we say. The state is asking us to recommend masks, so we’re being obedient to what the state is asking, but it’s not a requirement. You won’t be asked to wear a mask. So there will be those that will and those that won’t, and they need to respect each other, too. But again, we’ll be doing social distancing…
So the state is saying masks are important, and Ken Ham is parroting that line because he has to, while not-so-subtly insisting that you don’t have to wear one. If you have COVID, you are free to visit the Ark and spread it far and wide — employees and other visitors be damned.
This isn’t about “respect.” It’s about understanding the seriousness of this virus. It’s not surprising that people who dedicate their lives to rejecting science are rejecting science, but it’s completely irresponsible that Ham would brag about putting people back to work when he’s also putting them in harm’s way by not even requiring the most basic of safety precautions.
Many grocery stores won’t allow you to come inside unless you’re wearing a mask. But in a couple of weeks, Creationists are going to open their monuments to misinformation to the very people most likely to spread the virus because they’re too selfish to wear protective equipment. And Ham would rather take their money than do the bare minimum to take care of his employees and other visitors because, as he says in the video, they’re struggling financially.