-- Two billboard companies have refused to run an advertisement ridiculing the Ark Encounter, a Noah’s Ark-themed amusement park being built in Williamstown, Kentucky, according to the group that whose ad was rejected.
The atheist group Tri-State Freethinkers, which commissioned the advertisement, says it has been turned down by billboard companies Lamar and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC, despite $10,000 having been raised to fund the project. The proposed billboard would have critiqued the park by branding it, “Genocide and Incest Park: Celebrating 2,000 years of myths.”
"We tried with everyone we could think of, and these were [billboard] companies that originally were in agreement to do business with us," Jim Helton, the president of Tri-State Freethinkers, told ABC News today, speculating that fear of a scandal pushed the companies to drop the ads. "We're just looking for someone to take our money."
Tri-State Freethinkers has been in existence for three years, according to Helton, and now has 1,500 members.
Ark Encounter is the brainchild of a group called Answers in Genesis, which also runs an establishment in Petersburg, Kentucky, called the Creation Museum, an institution that promises to “bring the pages of the bible to life,” according to its website.
Dinosaur bones, as well as dinosaur statues, are featured prominently in the material for the Creation Muaseum, and a webpage on the Answers in Genesis site is devoted to refuting the evolutionary theory about dinosaurs from the perspective of a biblical interpretation and instead saying that dinosaurs and people lived together. Ark Encounter, its follow-up project, boasts having received over $31 million in donations to fund the "life-sized" replica Ark.
Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham, who has been criticized for his perceived anti-science beliefs and alleged prejudicial hiring practices, paid for a billboard of his own in 2014 to defend the construction of Ark Encounter.
“To all of our intolerant liberal friends, thank God you can’t sink this ship,” the billboard read.
Helton said he has not given up trying to find someone to display the ads, and said he hopes that the media attention surrounding this controversy helps him to find someone who will take his business.
"The beliefs propagated by Ham and his group are fundamentally anti-science. They're teaching children that science and evolution aren't true," Helton said of why his group wants to publish the ads. "They are teaching kids that dinosaurs were vegetarian until original sin."
The Ark Encounter did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment, but Ham took to Twitter today to attack Helton and his group.
"The secularists aren't out for free exercise of religion but to impose their anti-God religion on the culture," he wrote.
The billboard companies, Lamar and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC, did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.