The Booming Business of...Creationism?
Creationism is proving to be a lucrative business for those religious Americans who take the Bible's Genesis story literally. There seems to be a growing demand for museums on a mission to debunk evolutionary theory and promote the belief that life was created by God as laid out in Genesis.
The New Jersey group behind the website Creation Science Hall of Fame is putting its efforts into opening a brick and mortar creationist attraction along Interstate 75 in northern Kentucky, according to the Courier-Journal.
Progress in Kentucky will be determined by how much and how quickly the group can raise capital through donations. Terry Hurlbut, secretary and treasurer of the group, told the Courier-Journal that they're hoping to raise $2 to $3 million to begin construction. Like the group's website, the planned museum will honor those deemed notable believers in creationism, including Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Samuel F.B. Morse, Louis Pasteur and George Washington Carver.
A recent Gallup poll showed that 46 percent of Americans believe in intelligent design, with that belief negatively correlated to education level, and the planned Creation Science Hall of Fame museum is entering a crowded field.
Just 90 miles from the proposed site lies the massive 70,000 square-foot non-profitCreation Museum, featuring depictions of an earth where dinosaurs and humans co-existed. The museum's theory of natural history is largely discounted by every major scientist, academic and expert on record.
Answers in Genesis, the group behind the Creation Museum, is planning an equally ambitious exhibit namedArk Encounter, a Bible-themed amusement park complete with a 500-foot by 80-foot depiction of Noah's ark.
Though the Creation Museum saw a dip in attendance last year to 280,000, down from 404,000 visitors when it opened in 2007, the group was still able to obtain $43 million in tax breaks from the state of Kentucky based on projected attendance.
In the same year, nearly $50 million in funding was cut from public education in Kentucky, notes Forbes.
Florida lawmakers have also been kind to creationists. In 2006, they passed property tax exemptions for the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, where the "world of the Bible comes to life," according to the attraction's website.
Despite these theme parks' non-profit status, some attendees take issue with their entry fees being used for evangelizing purposes. Others are turned off by the high entry prices in general. While families can go to the Creation Museum and see fake animals at a cost of $30 for adults and $16 for children, they could just as easily go to the nearby Cincinnati Zoo and see real animals for less.
For the Creation Science Hall of Fame, the money-making aspect of the project is on hold for now. Organizers hope to be up and running in five years.