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Noah’s Ark and the Sanctity of Private Property

The subject of a proposed religious theme park in Kentucky brings up an issue near and dear to the heart of libertarians: the sanctity of private property.

There is some controversy over the proposed construction of a $150 million Noah’s Ark theme park on 800 acres near Interstate 75 in Kentucky. The theme park – to be called Ark Encounter – is a joint venture between Answers in Genesis and Ark Encounter LLC. The former group already opened a $27 million Creation museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, in 2007.

The proposed park, to be completed by 2014, will feature live animals, event venues, a children’s play area, a replica of the biblical Tower of Babel, a 500-seat special effects theater, a reproduction of a first-century Middle Eastern village, an aviary, and a 500 by 75 foot wooden ark to replicate the biblical Noah’s Ark. The project is expected to create more than 900 jobs, attract 1.6 million visitors in the park’s first year, and have an economic impact of $214 million in the first year alone.

As expected, religious groups generally hailed the project even as other groups that focus on church-state issues had a problem with the project. Contrary to critics of the theme park who think the educational message of the park is “unscientific” and “embarrassing for the state” or that any jobs created would be “low-paying” and “transient,” Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, seemed to raise two main arguments against the proposed park: First, Lynn pointed out that when Noah launched the Ark the first time, he was not looking for government funding. Second, he said that while the Constitution doesn’t prevent someone from putting up a water park, it does prevent people from putting up a religious one, such as Noah’s water park.

But both of Lynn’s points are misguided.

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