A life-sized homage to Noah's Ark has been at the center of controversy in Kentucky after it was revealed the creationist Christian ministry responsible for the structure received hefty tax incentives for the project.
The fundamentalist ministry known as Answers in Genesis opened the Noah's Ark theme park on July 7 with the stated purpose of stimulating the local economy while educating visitors on the biblical story they believe to be a historical event.
The massive structure is 510-feet long, and is allegedly based on the actual measurements of the legendary ship used to shelter select creatures from a flood in the Book of Genesis.
Noah's Ark Kentucky Theme Park Is Worth Millions
The Ark Encounter was built with the help of $18 million in tax incentives, which Answers in Genesis received in 2014. AiG president Ken Ham said the Ark cost over $100 million to make.
The theme park made history when it was listed as the largest freestanding timber-frame structure in the world. Ham says the Ark is part of his organization's fight against secularism.
"In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it's time for Christians to do something of this size and this magnitude," he said in a statement.
He continued: "The Ark is a reminder. [It is] to remind generations of the truth of God's Word. It's our way of presenting this to the world."
Kentucky Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton was present for the official ribbon cutting ceremony along with 43,000 supporting donor families from across the United States.
"We are so blessed that this great, great attraction was built here in Kentucky," he said. "It's just an honor to have this here. We hope to see millions come to Kentucky to see the Ark Encounter."
One of the first visitors to the establishment was former children's television star Bill Nye "the Science Guy", who called the scientific exhibits in the theme park both inaccurate and disturbing.
Nye is among the critics who have slammed Answers in Genesis for taking tax incentives for a project that is unscientific in nature. The television personality debated Ham on evolution in 2014, which attracted millions of online viewers.