This has already been covered by several “bloggers,” so I’ll be brief, because the entire story is told by Mark Joseph Stern at Slate. If you haven’t been in Ulan Bator for a year or so, you’llknow that Ken Ham is supplementing the Creation Museum with a new theme park called “The Ark Encounter.” It features not only a mock-up of that fictional vessel, but a fake Tower of Babel, “a ride through the plagues of Egypt,” and even a petting zoo.
Happily, the Ark Encounter is encountering financial woes, which, according to Stern, Ham blames on Obamacare, which somehow has, by requiring birth control in medical programs, would violate the religious convictions of Ham’s employees.
To raise the dough, then, Ham is tendering an offer of junk bonds that, according to financial experts, are risky:
The solution? “A private bond offering through a 501(c)(3) that will allow us to claim the exemption to supply abortifaciants.” Under its previous financing scheme, Ark Encounter was just another LLC. Now it’s transformed itself into an official religious nonprofit, one eligible to seize the perks that come with the title.
In an executive summary sent to its supporters, Answers in Genesis makes the bonds sound like a decent investment. The group is offering bonds with 7-, 11-, and 15-year maturities, at yields between 5 and 6 percent. A 7-year bond starts at $250,000, while an 11-year bond begins at $50,000.
Tempting as those rates may seem, there’s a small catch. As Answers in Genesis readily admits, the bonds “are not expected to have any substantial secondary market” and are “not an obligation of AiG.” Somewhat alarmingly, the bonds are unrated, an indication that they’re extremely risky—and almost impossible to resell. High risk, higher yield: These, in essence, are creationist junk bonds.
. . .I asked Jie Yang, a professor of finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, for his opinions of the bonds.
“I would agree that these bonds are very high risk,” he told me. In addition to their lack of rating and a secondary market, the bonds are callable, meaning Answers in Genesis can collect on the bond at any point before it has matured. (The buyer has no such privilege.) Moreover, the bonds are secured only by the revenues and assets of the Ark Encounter project, not by Answers in Genesis itself.
“Should the project be unsuccessful,” Yang notes, “AiG holds no responsibility in meeting the interest payments of these bonds and the bonds may default.” If the project falls through, in other words, investors won’t just lose their interest payments: They’ll lose their entire investment.
Well, this isn’t useful news to most of us, as we’re not investing in that project anyway, but it does highlight the fact that interest in a literalist theme-park may be waning. And Christians who are still interested in the bonds can be assured that they’re back by the full faith and credit of Lord Jesus himself.
Flood geology: the dumber animals get inundated while smart humans run for high ground. But why aren’t whales down there in the fossil record with the dinosaurs?