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Protesters outside, faith and inspiration inside, at opening of Ark Encounter in Williamstown

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Opening day at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown included a protest and a counter-protest just outside the gates, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the first paid visitors to see the massive structure.

Byung Kap Jeong of Busan, South Korea and his wife, Hyun Sook Moon at the opening of the Ark Encounter (photos by Mark Hansel).

Byung Kap Jeong of Busan, South Korea and his wife, Hyun Sook Moon, who now lives in Colorado at the opening of the Ark Encounter (photos by Mark Hansel).

Visitors from across the country and around the world lined up to wait for the buses that would take them on the short trip to the 510-foot Ark and other exhibits.

When the bus rounded a corner and the Ark came into view, visitors spun in their seats and marveled at the sheer size of the structure.

Byung Kap Jeong is vice president of the Korean Association of Creation Research and teaches at Kosin University in Busan.

He has taught Creationism and the story of Noah’s Ark for more than 30 years, but said he did not really appreciate the story until he came to the Ark Encounter.

“I knew that Noah’s flood was real and I have lectured about it several times to students, but I realize now that it was much more than I expected,” Jeong said.

Jeong’s wife and family live in Colorado and he was planning to visit them this year. He has a friend that works for Answers in Genesis, so decided to check out the Ark Encounter while he was here.

“I think all the people should come here to see what happened at the time, even if they are not Christian,” Jeong said. “This can change their world view and make them believe that the Ark and the Bible are real.”

Left to right, Angela, Jacob, David and Tom Ericson came from Maryland to visit the Ark Encounter

Left to right, Jacob, David, Angela and Tom Ericson came from Maryland to visit the Ark Encounter on opening day.

Angela and Tom Ericson, from Columbia, Maryland, are longtime supporters of Answers in Genesis.

They have purchased a plank and a peg to help fund the Ark Encounter and have contributed to the Apologetics ministry.

They toured the Ark Thursday with their sons, Jacob and David, while their daughter, Anastasia is at Camp Infinity, a nearby STEM retreat with a Christian world view.

“We bought our tickets in January as soon as they went on sale,” Angela Ericson said. “I think they have done a great job and I can’t wait to see the subsequent phases. They did something from a very sound Biblical world view and it’s something wholesome that our kids can come to.”

A slideshow that provides a preview of the Ark interior is available here .

The Mowbray Family, Katie Sue, Amy Beth and Lily-Beth Anna, made the trip from Worcester, Massachusetts, to see the Ark.

Katie Mowbray said the family has been following the construction online and thought they would need an “extreme makeover” to get it finished on time.

“It’s bigger and more amazing than I could ever imagine,” she said. “To see it in real life and realize this is possible is so cool. For me the really neatest thing is seeing the kinds of animals and realizing that this could have worked.”

Protester lined the Interstate ramp on opening day at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown

Protester lined the Interstate ramp on opening day at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown

Not everyone shared the enthusiasm of those that visited the Ark.

At the end of the Interstate 75 ramp leading to the Ark entrance a group displayed signs protesting the attraction.

Jim G. Helton president of Tri-State Free Thinkers and Regional Director for American Atheists, said the group is opposed to the Ark for several reasons.

“We are raising scientifically illiterate children in Kentucky and that is dangerous,” Helton said. “They are telling people evolution is not true and that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that is absolutely false.”

Members of the group held up signs describing the attraction as “Genocide and Incest Park,” and a “Taxpayer Funded Flood of Ignorance.”

Helton said that while the state money will come in the form of rebates from sales tax at the park, not direct tax dollars, as a religious-themed attraction the Ark should not receive incentives.

“This is unacceptable and a clear violation of church and state,” Helton said.

“We know the Creationists are going to go to the museum, no matter what we do, but we want to appeal to the general public.”

A group of counter-protesters, led by Eric Hovind of Florida-based Creation Today offered to purchase tickets to the Ark for the picketers.

For more information about the Ark Encounter, including drone video, photos and ticketing options, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. Ben says:

    Wow, that’s really stretching the idea of “separation of church and state”. First, that phrase isn’t in the constitution, but the idea is covered by a few Supreme Court cases and it was based off of the concepts of Roger Williams who was Baptist. The first admendment talks about the state not establishing a state religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. So suggesting that the Ark “park” be subjected to a separate set of rules simply because it’s religiously based is silly and would likely run afoul of the language of the first admendment because you could argue it was “prohibiting free exercise thereof” by putting up barriers that wouldn’t apply to a secular business.

    As a side note, agnostics are clearly that, agnostic (they don’t believe and most don’t care). While Atheism is essentially the religion of humanism. Many of them seem to have also made a religion out of combatting any other religion (especially Christians, they seem to really hate Christians. I guess we are just the biggest target here in the US).

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