Answers in Genesis CEO and President Ken Ham has responded to criticism directed at the Ark Encounter project by stating that those who ask why the money isn't used to help poor people instead are really objecting to the Gospel message.
"Nearly every time I post an update on the exciting Ark Encounter project, there seem to be those habitual complainers who claim the money should be spent on the poor instead and not be 'wasted' this way," Ham said earlier this week on his AiG blog.
"The Ark project (like the Creation Museum) will in a professional, powerful, and gracious way present the truth of God's Word and the Gospel. Sadly, even some people claiming to be Christians complain about the Ark project and that the money should be given to the poor instead. Such people either don't understand or don't seem to care about the millions who will be reached with the most important food in the universe —the spiritual food of the saving Gospel — the very message that their eternal life depends on," he added.
Ham pointed out that there are a number of other costly projects taking place in the U.S. at the moment, such as the man-made "lazy river" at Louisiana State University, yet they do not receive the same criticism.
He added that people do need to help the poor, and noted that he has encouraged people to give to relief efforts following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal. AiG's Vacation Bible School program has also provided hundreds of thousands of meals to children around the world, Ham said.
The life-size Noah's Ark replica project is being constructed in Williamstown, Kentucky, and is scheduled to be completed by 2016. The Encounter's official website shows that close to $19.5 million has so far been collected out of a goal of $29.5 million for the project's completion.
Ham has repeatedly spoken out against those he calls "naysayers."
"Despite all the naysayers, and the enormous amount of false information certain people and organizations have spread about this project — it is moving ahead nicely toward the opening in 2016. We just praise the Lord for this," he said in an update on the project in April.
The AiG President has also maintained that, despite false information in the media, AiG is not looking for money from the state to build the Ark Encounter, but has filed a lawsuit asking to be included in Kentucky's tax rebate program.
The lawsuit is in response to Kentucky imposing conditions such as prohibiting religious preference in hiring workers for the project, a decision that Ham said is against the law.
"The state's new conditions are clearly illegal. We can cite both federal and state laws that permit religious preference in hiring, like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That's why atheist groups can and do discriminate in their hiring," he explained back in December.
In his latest blog, Ham said that AiG's mission is to "proclaim the absolute truth and authority of the Bible with boldness, relate the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and world today, and obey God's call to deliver the message of the Gospel."
He added that while meeting the physical needs of the poor is important, "it is even more important to help meet their spiritual need — the need to come to know Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world — because lives and eternity hang in the balance."
Ham continued: "The Ark Encounter will help us do that in a powerful, non-threatening way by simply sharing the truth of God's Word with visitors at the Ark concerning the historicity of Noah's Ark, the Genesis Flood, and other authentic accounts of history revealed in the Scriptures, including the account of redemption weaved throughout the Bible."