Kentucky Republicans have decided to put the profits of a creationist museum ahead of the education of their state’s children, and that just about says it all.
At the very start of 2016’s legislative year, Kentucky conservatives introduced a bill, SB-50, that would keep schools closed until the end of August in order to allow the state’s brand new “Noah’s Ark” museum to eke out a few more weeks of the tourist season. Priorities!
Writer Dan Arel has been following the situation, in all its mind-numbing stupidity, for the better part of a year. He writes:
As I reported back in August of 2015, Kentucky Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset had proposed such a bill to help extend the vacation season to bring more attention to the forthcoming Ark Encounter.
“Grant County is set to become a major tourist destination due to the presence of the Ark,” Thayer said. “But there won’t be many families from Kentucky visiting in August if we continue with the current calendar.”
And while other states have set their school schedule around economic issues, you’d be hard-pressed to find a state do that to satisfy the bottom-line of a single man.
Meet Ken Ham, the right-wing creationist famous for his creation museum and infamous for getting absolutely demolished in a debate with Bill Nye. He and his giant Ark have Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature wrapped around his finger.
Lately, Ham has been so busy hurling hatred at gay people that one might forget that he makes most of his money by running a religious-based creation museum and associated ministry in Kentucky. In the past few years, Ham has set his sights on expanding his museum to feature a “life-sized” mock up of Noah’s Ark. After a ton of fundraising – and a few charges of tax fraud – Ham opened his Ark in November, 2015.
To give you an idea of how obnoxious Ham can be, this is how he chose to announce his big Grand Opening ceremony set to begin this summer:
“We are so excited that the construction progress and schedule landed on this 7/7 date. Genesis 7:7 states that Noah and his family entered the Ark. So it’s fitting we allow the public to enter the life-size Ark on 7/7.”
Ham’s enablers in Kentucky want to extend the park’s “vacation season” to September. They hope this will bring in more money, but what they don’t mention is that almost none of it would be coming back to the state. Ham, for all of his religious-speak, is primarily a huckster. He continues to label his for-profit “ministry” a tax-exempt church, and therefore pays little to no taxes. Keeping kids out of school so their parents can buy tickets for Ham’s park does nothing but make students in the state more ignorant, residents poorer, and Ham richer.
Schools, obviously, are not happy, either. As Ham continues to count his dollars, teachers and principals are left scrambling for a way to salvage the potentially lost time. One principal was hopeful that the bill wouldn’t pass, but conceded if it did, it would be a disaster. “It may help tourism, however, I think it could potentially hurt many Kentucky children.”
Given the fundamentalism promoted by Ham’s anti-intellectual “museums,” it’s safe to say the principal is being too generous. This has all the makings of an educational disaster.
Feature image via Christian Post screengrab