Pennies from heaven | Tapping into Christian tourism
With the summer season in full gear, still looking for a places to go? How about boarding a life-sized re-creation of Noah’s ark? Or viewing the crucifixion at a Christian theme park in Florida?
Here are some religious tourism sites in the United States:
Holy Land Experience: Karl Bushong, an ordained minister and one of several actors who portray Jesus at the Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park and church owned by the Trinity Broadcast Network, baptizes a young visitor to the park in Orlando, Fla. The park, which bills itself as a living, biblical museum, includes replicas of a Jerusalem street market and Calvary's Garden Tomb, where many believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Crucifixion of Jesus: Visitors to the Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park and church owned by the Trinity Broadcast Network, take in a wax replica of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Building an ark: The steel frame of a re-creation of Noah's ark, whose construction had been stalled for 19 years, glows in the lights of nearby Route 40 in Frostburg, Md., in April. The facility opened in July.
Inside the ark: Visitors tour the Ark Encounter, a $100-million, 510-foot-long re-creation of Noah's ark in Williamstown, Ky. Ark Encounter is the brainchild of Australian-born creationist Ken Ham.
Opening ceremony:An opening celebration is held at Ark Encounter, which was built with the help of state tax incentives.
Creation Museum: The Creation Museum, which discounts evolutionary science for the biblical creation story in the Book of Genesis, in Petersburg, Ky., includes a serpent representing the one from the biblical Garden of Eden.
Garden of Eden: Adam and Eve are represented at the Creation Museum. Though attendance at the controversial museum has declined steadily since its opening in 2007, the museum plans to triple in size over the next three years.
Book of Genesis: A display at the Creation Museum, which discounts evolutionary science for the biblical creation story in the Book of Genesis, attributes the introduction of sin and suffering into the world to Adam's eating from the tree of the knowledge.
Museum of the Bible: Construction continues on the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible, set to open November 2017 just three blocks south of the National Mall in Washington. Funded by the wealthy family of Hobby Lobby founder David Green, the $400-million museum will reportedly house 40,000 artifacts.
'The Story of Jesus': Randall Whaley portrays Jesus in "The Story of Jesus," a seasonal Passion Play performed by a cast of more than 200 volunteers and 100 animals, in the Hardee County Cattlemen's Arena in Wauchula, Fla.
Full house: A crowd of hundreds watches "The Story of Jesus," which has been produced and directed for more than a quarter-century by local pastor Mike Graham.
'USO girls': Volunteer actresses dressed as World War II "USO girls" wait to take the stage for a patriotic pre-show before "The Story of Jesus."
'Miracle of Christmas': Denver Taylor, portraying the Roman guard Julius, prepares to ride his horse through the crowd at a show titled "Miracle of Christmas" at the Sight and Sound Theatre, the largest faith-based live theater company in the U.S., in Lancaster, Pa.
Holy Land : A deteriorating sign is nearly all that remains of Holy Land USA, a biblical theme park that closed in 1984 in Waterbury, Conn.
Graffiti-covered cross: Graffiti covers a stainless steel cross at the former Holy Land USA. The park drew as many as 40,000 visitors annually in the 1960s.