CINCINNATI – Two billboard companies have rejected proposed advertisements from an atheist group that mock the Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter project and describe the ark replica as a “genocide and incest park.”
Tri-State Freethinkers is an organization based in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio that is committed to countering what they describe as the “nonsense” of religion. In March, the group launched a fundraising campaign to counter the Ark Encounter—an evangelistic, full-size replica of Noah’s Ark being built by Answers in Genesis in northern Kentucky.
“Scheduled to open in Williamstown, Kentucky on July 7, 2016, the park celebrates a biblical parable of genocide and incest,” the atheists wrote on their fundraising page. “While they have a legal right to celebrate their mythology, we find it immoral and highly inappropriate as family entertainment. Help us remind the surrounding community and potential patrons that the biblical story of Noah’s Ark is immoral and should not be encouraged as a family fun day.”
The Tri-State Freethinkers designed billboard ads that feature a whimsical picture of Noah’s Ark along with the label, “Genocide and Incest Park: Celebrating 2,000 Years of Myths.” Late last month, however, the billboard company the atheists hoped to do business with—Lamar—backed out of the deal.
“We default to accepting most all copy, but if there’s something we deem not appropriate then we don’t run it,” said Tom Fahey, manager of the Cincinnati office of Lamar, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It seemed more inflammatory in nature than anything else.”
Undeterred, the atheists reached out to a mobile billboard company with their proposal. However, that company turned them down too.
“Is it really this hard to find an advertising company in Kentucky willing to take $10,000 from science advocates?” the Tri-State Freethinkers posted on Facebook last week. The group also posted a press release on Tuesday with the heading, “Godless Billboards Blocked in Kentucky.”
“We were surprised that the mainstream media covered the story of us simply stating that we were raising money to put up the billboard,” Tri-State Freethinkers president Jim Helton said in the release. “When the story hit the local press, Lamar backed out. They were unwilling to work with me to try to find a solution that would have resembled anything close to our original concept for the billboard.”
In the release, the atheist group mentioned that they are also “trying to put together a protest on July 7” to counter the Ark Encounter grand opening.
“We find this story immoral that’s in the Bible, and highly inappropriate for children,” Helton said in a YouTube video that shows him standing in front of a portrait of Charles Darwin. Later in the video, he tosses a Bible to the ground and urges atheists and freethinkers to contribute to the fundraising campaign.
In an interview with radio host Bill Cunningham, Helton explained why they refer to the Ark Encounter as a “genocide and incest park.”
“I don’t know how else to describe it,” he said. “In the story of Noah’s Ark, God drowns everybody. … That is textbook genocide. I see no other way to describe it. And then He repopulates the earth through incest.”
However, the Scriptures outline that both Noah’s sons and their wives were on the ark, so no incest occurred (Genesis 8:16). Where the Bible does mention incest, such as the notation of the actions of Lot’s daughters multiple generations later (Genesis 19:30-38), it was not to endorse their behavior, but to record the sinful nature of man throughout history—even after the flood, pointing to the need for the Savior and for men to be born again.
Scripture also states that Noah, who is called a “preacher of righteousness,” pleaded for 120 years up until the flood for men to repent of evil, but they refused, and mocked the notion of consequence or punishment. The Bible repeatedly outlines that God has no pleasure in the death of any man, but desires that sinners would repent, turn to Christ, and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4): “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, described Tri-State Freethinkers as intolerant and aggressive.
“In 2 Peter 3, the Bible speaks of such scoffers who deliberately reject Creation and the Flood,” he wrote in a blog post. “What we experience from these modern scoffers, must be just a fraction of the scoffing Noah must have endured. All but his own family had rebelled against a Holy God who had every right to mete out righteous judgment because: ‘Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).’”