Atheists planning to protest at public opening of Ark Encounter - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Atheists planning to protest at public opening of Ark Encounter

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The $100 million, life-sized replica of Noah's Ark opens to the public Thursday, but not everyone is welcoming the state's newest tourist attraction.

A group of atheists and free-thinkers is planning to protest the Ark. They believe it sends the wrong message.

Ed Hensley and his family plan to be there, but they will not be joining the thousands of fans.

“We're going to the protest,” Hensley told WDRB News.

The Hensley's are part of the Tri-State Atheists and Freethinkers.

They'll be holding signs bashing the Ark project and its promotion of the flood story.

“We're opposed predominately because it's a story of genocide. It is, therefore, a celebration, an amusement park, that celebrates genocide,” he said.

“And killed by God, who is supposed to be our perfect moral example,” added Hensley’s wife, Mikel.

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, which built the Ark, told supporters on Wednesday that opponents are trying to silence the Christian message.

“This is so major, it is going to have a major impact, because we are Christian, and we're going to get the Christian message out, and that's what it's all about," Ham said. "It's prejudice against the Christian message."

But opponents say they're also protesting the tax incentives the park is receiving, a rebate on sales taxes of up to $18 million.

They say it violates separation of church and state, though a federal judge has ruled otherwise.

“We think that the judge's decision is wrong, and we hope that it's appealed,” Hensley said.

The Hensleys say they know they'll be outnumbered by the flood of Ark supporters on Thursday.

But it's important, they say, to set an example for their daughter.

“I don't think the flood story, either from a scientific, historical or moral standpoint, is a good thing to teach children,” Mikel Hensley said.

“It will cause Kentucky's children of the future, and current children, to doubt science,” Ed said.

The group plans to gather outside the park on Thursday at 10 a.m.

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