by William Trollinger
It has been exactly ten years since Williamstown, Kentucky, underwrote $62.5m worth of bonds that made possible the building of Ark Encounter. This anniversary seems the perfect opportunity for Ken Ham to (finally) apologize for the fact that his big unseaworthy boat has not come close to producing the attendance numbers and economic impact that Answers in Genesis (AiG) promised in seeking support from this little town.
Of course, Ken is a busy guy, fighting the atheists and secularists who, as he said on Facebook this past weekend, “are becoming increasingly intolerant of Christianity—in fact, trying to outlaw the Christian worldview in many places.” (Interestingly, the current book-banning campaign “target[s] stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” and not stories by and about Christians. Oh well: for Ken, this is apparently the good sort of intolerance.)
Because he is so busy warring against the forces of evil, I wrote the following letter in his behalf. And Ken, there’s no need to thank me. Just sign your name and send it along to the Williamstown powers-that-be and enjoy the good feelings that come with a sincere (albeit ghost-written) confession!
September 26, 2023
Dear Williamstown City Council:
Greetings from the gigantic fundamentalist tourist attraction on the other side of I-75! It has been a decade since you so generously underwrote the $62.5 worth of junk bonds that made it possible to build Ark Encounter . . . and you not only underwrote the bonds, but you also agreed that 75% of what Ark Encounter would have paid in property taxes would instead go to paying off the loan. Yes, I know that I go on and on and on about how government is hostile to Christianity in America, but wow, this was a fabulous subsidy. Thank you, Williamstown!!
Of course, I know very well that you said yes to providing us with this wonderful windfall in good part because of what we said in the Ark Encounter feasibility report that we provided you. As I know you will recall, we told you that our attendance numbers would an “estimated average of 1.6 million visitors” in the first year. More than this, we told you that these attendance numbers would simply keep going up. And for July 2022-June 2023, our “scientific” formula projected an attendance of 2,177,737.
Oops!! We have never even made it to one million paid visitors in a year. Here’s a breakdown from this past year (and yes, that busybody Dan Phelps makes it his business to collect and publicize these numbers, instead of allowing us to come up with our own numbers, which I can tell you would look much better!):
- July 2022: 110,098
- August 2022: 83,638
- September 2022: 68,301
- October 2022: 74,864
- November 2022: 39,125
- December 2022: 37,959
- January 2023: 14,724
- February 2023: 23,020
- March 2023: 66,390
- April 2023: 70,700
- May 2023: 82,585
- June 2023: 111,256
- TOTAL: 782,660
Yes, yes, yes – I know. This total is only 36% of attendance we told you we would have this year.
So that’s why I am writing. I am so sorry that we “misled” you so badly. Sure, some of this is on you. You should have conducted a closer analysis of the information we gave you. But I don’t want to play the game of blaming the victim (that is, you!) Instead, I want to own the fact that what we told you in our feasibility report was, well, false. Sorry about that!
Speaking of blaming the victim, I am also sorry for saying that the reason Williamstown has not enjoyed an economic boom is that Williamstown is on the wrong side of the interstate. Of course, your town was on the wrong side of the interstate when we were selling you on underwriting the bonds, which was NOT a point we brought up during our sales pitch. Oh well, that’s capitalism . . . but again, sorry about that!
All this said, I hope you keep in mind that we at AiG are soldiers in the Christian army saving America from the radical Marxists (not exactly sure what this means, but we know that these folks are bad!), from the hordes of LGBTQ militants storming the cultural gates, from the Critical Race Theorists (not exactly sure what this means either, but we know that these folks are bad too!), and from the vaccine-crazy climate cultists.
That is to say, members of the Williamstown City Council, we are on your side (unless, of course, you belong to any of the aforementioned groups or are liberal)! So we are confident that you will forgive us for misleading you. And in turn, we will pray for you and your local economy.
Your brother in Christ –