In July 2016, an entire amusement park devoted to Noah’s Ark is set to open in Kentucky. Owned and built by Ken Ham (his other contribution to humanity is the Creation Museum) the Ark Encounter is a business investment catering to the young-earth creationists of the Bible Belt.
However, the Ark Encounter’s journey has been far from smooth sailing.
First announced in December 2010, the ark park called for an estimated $150 million in funding. It initially got help from the state of Kentucky, in the form of tax incentives and rebates, but inconvenient things like the Constitutional concept of the Separation of Church and State got in the way. Delays and complications led some of the park’s early investors to head for the door – while the Ark Encounter LLC was initially only 20% owned by the rest of Ken Ham’s corporate pyramid, with the other 80% presumably covered by private investors, it’s now wholly-owned by Ham’s elaborate corporate structure
With funding in the can, in the technical sense, Ham did what anyone would do: He blamed Obama. Because Obamacare would, allegedly, require Mr. Ham to provide abortifaciants to his employees – something he was absolutely not going to do – he had to forego certain vague streams of investment that would’ve solved everything.
Instead, Mr. Ham would have to resort to lesser methods of fundraising – selling junk bonds.
To help cover the costs of building the Noah’s Ark theme park, Mr. Ham proclaimed a private bond offering. Investors could loan money to the construction cause, get interest back for the life of the bond, and then the principal of the bond back when it matured.
Bonds are known for their stability in the investment world: They’re a great way to invest money, get a low by sure interest rate, and watch the investment grow without much of a doubt that it’ll still be there when all is said and done – bondholders are among the first in line to get paid if the bond’s issuer goes bankrupt.
Ham’s bonds, however, were nothing like that. One of the terms and conditions attached to Mr. Ham’s bonds limited the bonds to the ark park venture – if the theme park didn’t pan out, bondholders were prevented from seeking payment from Mr. Ham’s other businesses, like his church, Answers in Genesis, or the Creation Museum. If the park turned out to be a flop, bondholders would be screwed.
But another term attached to the bond allowed Ark Encounter to call the bond back before it matured – effectively cutting off the interest payments and returning the principal of the bond to the holder. This allowed Ham to cut his expenses, if business went well and he didn’t need the money from the bond, anymore. If the park turned out to be a success, bondholders would be screwed.
In other words, the creationist junk bonds that Ham had come up with had a tag on them that said, “you’re damned if we lose, and you’re damned if we win.” Either way, Ham gets what he wants – money to build an ark that he can use to survive the upcoming flood sent by God to punish us for letting gays marry, or something.
[Post image via Shutterstock]