by Daniel Phelps
Daniel Phelps is a retired environmental geologist for the commonwealth of Kentucky. He has also taught part-time in Kentucky’s Community College system. His work to expose the pseudoscience behind Ham’s Ark Encounter was featured in the award-winning 2019 documentary, “We Believe in Dinosaurs.” In 2021 the Paleontological Society – the world’s leading scientific organization devoted to studying invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology, micropaleontology, and paleobotany – awarded Phelps the prestigious Strimple Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in paleontology by someone who does not make a full-time living from paleontology. Phelps is founder and president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society.
In late 2022, I began receiving, almost daily, “sponsored posts” in my Facebook feed for the Ark Encounter that were sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (NKCVB). The NKCVB is partly funded by a tax charge when hotel rooms are rented in Northern Kentucky. Since the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are Kentucky tourist sites, the mere advertising of these sites is not objectionable. However, the wording describing the Ark Encounter is objectionable. The “sponsored ad” (see Figure 1 below) and working on the the NKCVB website https://www.meetnky.com/about-us/ is troublesome. The advertisement states that the Ark Encounter is “a full-sized replica” of Noah’s Ark, indicating that the NKCVB agrees with Answers in Genesis that the Ark actually existed. Obviously, one cannot have a “replica” of something that never existed.
I was about to ignore this as just another inane thing that Answers in Genesis (AiG) has received from a taxpayer supported government entity. However, I noticed that the NKCVB has the imprimatur of Destination Marketing’s Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Accreditation Program and The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (actually the IGLBTQ+ Travel Association). This seemed very odd, given AiG’s stances on diversity and sexuality. Thus, I sent the directors of NKCVB, Destination Marketing, and The International GLBTQ+ Travel Association the letter below via email on January 2, 2023, and, after not hearing from any of the three organizations, again on January 18. I know my email reached all three organizations received my message because of “out of office” replies.
I also sent an additional email on January 20, concerning a political rally at the Creation Museum cosponsored by AiG and a minister advocating the execution of women who have had abortions. As of February 7, I have not heard from the organizations. They have all had plenty of time to address my concerns.
Does the NKCVB have the integrity to alter the wording of the descriptions of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum? Back in 2007, the NKCVB changed a rather bigoted description of the Creation Museum after public outcry (see https://ncse.ngo/tourism-agency-charged-improperly-promoting-creation-museum). Will they remove the description of the Ark A a “replica”?
The support of the pro-diversity organizations for AiG’s claims and bigotry is, at the very least, disturbing. Will these organizations have their seals of approval removed from the NKCVB site because of AiG’s bigoted positions? When phony environmental groups support polluters, it is often called “greenwashing” and “green-scamming.” Is the support of these two groups for the NKCVB an example of “diversity-washing” or “pinkwashing”? Why is AiG’s bigotry being ignored by these groups who supposedly support diversity?
Below is the text of the email I sent, first on January 2, 2023:
Dear Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, and The International GLBTQ+ Travel Association,
Back in 2007, I was involved in a dispute with the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (NKCVB, https://www.meetnky.com/about-us/) because your website described the Answers in Genesis (AiG) Creation Museum as a “museum that will counter evolutionary natural history museums that turn countless minds against Christ and Scripture.” This slur against real science museums was nothing less than astounding. Fortunately, this dispute was resolved after a short time and after several newspaper articles and resulted in your organization using less offensive language on your website description of the Creation Museum (see: https://ncse.ngo/tourism-agency-charged-improperly-promoting-creation-museum ).
Recently, I have been receiving, numerous “sponsored” advertising on my Facebook feed concerning the Ark Encounter, another attraction owned by Answers in Genesis (Figure 1). The advertisement states that the Ark building is “a full-sized replica”, apparently promoting AiG’s fallacious claim that the Ark was a real part of human history. Disturbingly, this is stated without even considering that one cannot have an “exact replica” of something that never existed. Could this language be changed without making the NKCVB appear to support AiG’s fundamentalist Christian claims? Since the NKCVB is in part supported by Kentucky tax money, I argue that such a change would be for the best.
I was also surprised to see the seals of both Destinations International DEI Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion and The International GLBTQ+ Travel Association on the NKCVB website. The imprimatur of these organizations is surprising considering the positions held by AiG, a religious ministry who owns both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I would like to hear how, in light of AiG’s positions, this approval is given to the NKCVB. I can understand the NKCVB doing some advertising for the Creation Museum and Ark since thy are local attractions. I do not understand how Destinations International DEI Diversity and The International GLBTQ+ Travel Association can possibly support this in light of AiG’s horribly bigoted views.
AiG’s Statement of Faith (https://answersingenesis.org/about/faith/) makes all of their employees agree before hiring to numerous bigoted, homophobic, and transphobic positions. (See specifics below.) With regards to diversity, the Statement of Faith states: “The concepts of ‘social justice,’ ‘intersectionality,’ and ‘critical race theory’ as defined in modern terminology are anti-biblical and destructive to human flourishing.” Even more hateful is the portion of AiG’s Statement of Faith where homosexuals are equated to people committing incest and bestiality. See also, https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/05/08/answers-in-genesiss-statement-of-faith-becomes-more-strident/
Besides the offensive material in AiG’s statement of faith, there have been many other incidents. In 2014 the Creation Museum received an Allosaurus dinosaur skeleton from neo-Confederate and former board member of the League of the South white supremacy advocate Michael Peroutka (see: https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2014/05/dinosaur-fossil.html). Last October the Ark hosted a talk by White Christian Nationalist Tony Perkins (see: https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2022/09/extreme-right-wing-Christian-nationalist.html ). I also encourage Destinations International and The International GLBTQ+ Travel Association to view the multitude of YouTube videos posted by AiG, many of which bully gays and transsexuals (see: AiG’s YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/@answersingenesis).
I am a white, heterosexual male, but I know bigotry and hate when I see it. AiG has ghastly positions with respect to diversity, inclusion, and sexuality, and should not be receiving the imprimatur of anti-bigotry and anti-discrimination groups. Please let me know why your seals appear on the NKCVB page.
From AiG’s Statement of Faith:
- “The concepts of ‘social justice,’ ‘intersectionality,’ and ‘critical race theory’ as defined in modern terminology are anti-biblical and destructive to human flourishing (Ezekiel 1:1-20; James 2:8-9).”
- “The only legitimate marriage, based on the creation ordinance in Genesis 1 and 2, sanctioned by God is the joining of one naturally born man and naturally born woman in a single, exclusive union as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other and has commanded that no sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, abuse, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:24; Matthew 5:27-30; 19:4-5; Mark 10: 2-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Hebrews 13:4).”
- “Gender and biological sex are equivalent and cannot be separated. A person’s gender is determined at conception (fertilization), coded in the DNA, and cannot be changed by drugs, hormones, or surgery. Rejection of one’s biological sex (gender) or identifying oneself by the opposite sex is a sinful rejection of the way God made that person. These truths must be communicated with compassion, love, kindness, and respect, pointing everyone to the truth that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking his mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1-2; Psalm 51:5, 139: 13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 1:20-21, 19:4-6; Mark 10:6; Luke 1:31; Acts 3: 19-21; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 3:28).”
Editor’s note: As anyone who takes the time to check these verses out, AiG has taken proof-texting to a new level. That is to say, these verses don’t actually make the biblical case that they claim. Just see the verses that they claim are against social justice, intersectionality, and critical race theory.