Meet the Press   |  April 20, 2014

Meeting America: An Issue of Biblical Proportions

NBC News' Kevin Tibbles reports on why a replica of Noah’s Ark is causing both excitement and skepticism about such a large display of faith in the public square.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and we are back. a hollywood take on the story of noah 's ark starring russell crowe has grossed tens of millions of dollars over the past few weeks, and in northern kentucky a huge replica of the ark is due to be built along with a christian theme park . in today's "meeting america" segment, kevin tibbles tells us why there's enthusiasm but also skepticism about a large display of faith in the public square .

>> reporter: the season of renewal has arrived in the foothills of the eastern kentucky mountains. here in williamstown, with its 4,000 people and two dozen churches, they like to call it city close and country quiet. but there is a buzz in the air about a proposed construction project of biblical proportions just up the road.

>> i think it's huge. i think people would definitely come to see that.

>> reporter: as she studies her bible over a morning cup of coffee, kelly eisler is clearly enthusiastic.

>> you think this never happens, so the fact they're actually making it into something that is real life for us, kind of opens up that imagery of wow, this actually happened.

>> reporter: it is noah 's ark. not a scale model like this one, but a massive life-size replica. part of an attraction planned by answers in genesis, a christian organization that believes in a literal interpretation of the bible .

>> make yourself an ark.

>> reporter: noah is quite a popular figure these days. the ark also appears in the hollywood blockbuster starring russell crowe and many pairs of animals. estimates suggest the ark encounter park will cost some $150 million to build. in the kitchen, bill greg readies for the easter rush. he's a fan of the ark project. it's expected to employ as many as 900 people.

>> there is a separation of church and state , but they've not presented it as a church. they've presented it as a theme attic park.

>> it's kind of a sucker punch to know my tax dollars are like helping to prop this up.

>> reporter: chris baxter's not sold. kentucky has granted answers in genesis to build the ark park.

>> i pass over a lot of potholes. i know a lot schools that could use some bonuses for teachers. instead, we're going to build the mickey mouse version of a bible story , and that is a little depressing to me.

>> reporter: commotion rains just across the ohio river in daryl's pet shop . he says he doesn't often think about the separation of church and state , but he believes in it as he does in god.

>> to mmato, tomato, what is it. if that's a theme park , it's an acceptable reason to give incentives. if it's strictly religious, i don't think you can give money.