Skip to comments.Museum group sued by fellow creationists
Posted on 06/17/2007 12:56:37 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
There is trouble in paradise, with a fight of biblical proportions raging between a Kentucky-based creationist group and the Australian group from which it sprang.
Three days after the Memorial Day opening of Answers in Genesis' $27 million Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, a group called Creation Ministries International filed suit in the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Among other things, the suit claims the Kentucky group stole subscribers for its Answers magazine by claiming that the Australians' Creation magazine was "no longer available."
The suit is the most public move in what has been a growing rift between groups that are spreading the same Garden of Eden creation message on opposite sides of the globe.
Both groups believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, that the earth and everything else was created in six days around 6,000 years ago.
But in the last several years, they have increasingly feuded about finances and power.
Now each is accusing the other of acting in an "unbiblical" fashion -- a serious charge for people who believe that the Bible is God's infallible word.
"All I'll tell you is those allegations are totally preposterous and untrue," Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, said in a brief interview last week. "The Bible tells you not to have a lawsuit against your brother, so you can see who's obeying the Bible and who's not."
But a retired Australian judge who chaired a committee that investigated the dispute issued a 40-page report in April that laid all the blame on Ham and his organization.
Clarrie Briese, a former chief magistrate of New South Wales, wrote that the evidence was "overwhelmingly supportive" of CMI. He added that AiG and Ham "will doggedly continue to deny any wrongdoing on their part."
Ham, an Australian who came to the United States in 1987, has told an Australian newspaper that he considers the committee to be "a kangaroo court."
Although money is at the root of the lawsuit, personalities and power apparently play a large role in the rift.
Jim Lippard, an Arizona atheist and blogger who has been following various creation groups since the early 1990s, characterizes Ham as "a very charismatic and forceful person."
"My impression is that AiG is Ham's organization," Lippard said in an interview. "He wants to run it his way, and if anyone else wants to interfere with that ... he will do whatever he can to get that person out of the way."
Ham, 55, was born in Queensland and taught high school science there. He quit in the 1980s to establish a creationist organization that later became known as the Creation Science Foundation.
Twenty years ago, the foundation sent Ham to California, where he joined the Institute for Creation Research.
In 1994, Ham arrived in Northern Kentucky -- chosen for its proximity to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and a sizable portion of the nation's population -- and started Answers in Genesis.
The name was adopted by the Australian organization, which later changed its name again to Creation Ministries International.
It is CMI that is suing AiG.
In Kentucky, Ham began planning for his Creation Museum. The first order of business: building a financial base.
He spoke at churches. He conducted seminars. He launched a popular Web site. He started a radio program that eventually would be carried on 860 stations across the country.
All this allowed him to create a mailing list of people who were willing to give money. When the museum opened, it was paid for. Mark Looy, another AiG leader, said the average contribution to the $27 million effort was a little more than $100.
The high-tech museum features dozens of professionally done videos and displays that depict animatronic people and dinosaurs living side-by-side.
It opened to large crowds of believers, a smaller group of scientists and atheists who were protesting, and worldwide publicity.
But trouble with CMI had already been brewing for some time.
Dr. Carl Wieland, 57, a physician who began Australia's first creationist group in 1977, runs the Australian group. He and Ham worked together in Australia and have co-authored books on creationism.
Their relationship, at least on the surface, continued to be good until 2004, the Briese report said.
Then Wieland and others sent a letter to the U.S. group, saying AiG seemed top-heavy in administrators, and was vulnerable because of a growing focus on Ham instead of the ministry's message.
The letter suggested reforms that would have reduced Ham's power.
The Briese report includes excerpts from a recording of Wieland's side of a telephone conversation with Ham around that time, in which Wieland warns his old friend that "the whole thing is heading in the direction of a Ken Ham ministries rather than Answers in Genesis."
The report also details a complex and confusing series of events in which the board of CMI came to Kentucky, signed an agreement that gave extraordinary powers to the U.S. group, then returned to Australia and fired Wieland.
Ham's organization got the right to change and edit any materials written by the Australian group, to switch authors' names, and to set prices on creationist literature it purchases from CMI.
"That really gave away the whole ball game," said Lippard, the blogger.
But the Briese report said it soon became clear to board members that they had not realized what they were signing. They resigned, turning the Australian group back over to Wieland.
Australia's only national daily newspaper, The Australian, has picked up on a sordid part of the Briese report: It says that Ham has questioned the timing of Wieland's second marriage -- to a woman who once was Ham's secretary -- only two weeks after divorcing his first wife. And it says that Ham is collaborating with an Australian who was excommunicated from his Baptist church because he once accused Wieland's wife of witchcraft and necrophilia.
"I think to some extent CMI is bringing that up just for the unseemly aspect of it," Lippard said.
Last week, Ham criticized Briese, noting that Briese is a member of CMI, and saying his conclusions were drawn up before his committee met.
In an interview, Wieland defended Briese, who is best known in Australia for exposing a high-level legal scandal in the mid-1980s.
"He is as well known as John Sirica of Watergate fame in terms of someone who was sort of thrust into their role, someone who made a public stand against the highest officials in the land," Wieland said.
CMI has been open about its disagreements with Ham's group, posting the Briese report and related documents on its Web site.
AiG has sent e-mails to supporters defending itself, but its Web site apparently ignores the Briese report and the whole CMI controversy.
The AiG Web site did, however, have two articles about an earlier Briese inquiry into charges that an atheist author had leveled against creationists. When a reporter asked Ham last week how he could criticize Briese for his recent report while touting his work on the earlier one, Ham said he thought articles about the earlier report had been removed from the site. The next day, they were gone.
Early Friday, AiG issued a statement saying the CMI accusations are "baseless and without merit."
"CMI's interest appears to be more about scoring points by publicizing the conflict, rather than taking a biblical approach to conflict resolution," the statement said.
Wieland said he still hoped for Christian arbitration with Ham. But, he said, CMI was left with no choice but to sue.
"At the end of the day ... there has to be right-doing," he said. "Things can't just be swept under the carpet."
For atheist Jim Lippard's blog, go to http://lippard.blogspot.com.
For the Answers in Genesis site, go to www.answersingenesis.org.
That raises a question that perhaps many have. Are there any museums that promote and illustrate a Creationist version of science and archeology?
Um...the Creationist Museum mentioned in the article?
* 7 Wonders of Mount St. Helens Creation Museum Silverlake, Washington
* A Key Encounter Nature Theatre and Planetarium Key West, Florida
* Akron Fossils and Science Center Akron, Ohio
* Ark Museum & Dinosaur Park Nashville, Tennessee
* Biblical Archeology and Anthropology Museum Ridgecrest, Calfornia
* Big Valley Creation Science Museum Alberta, Canada
* Creation Adventures Museum Arcadia, Florida. Customized activities for small groups such as fossil digs and canoe trips.
* Creation Evidence Museum Paluxy River, Glen Rose, Texas. It has a new building under construction.
* Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently under construction by the Answers in Genesis ministry
* Creation Studies Center South Florida
* Creation Truth Foundation Field Museum, Oklahoma
* Creation Truth Ministries Traveling Creation Museum Alberta, Canada
* Genesis Expo on Portsmouth Hard of the UK by the Creation Science Movement
* Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum
* Grand River Museum Lemmon, South Dakota. September 2002 the Grand River Museum purchased a new building.
* IBSS Museum Project the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies
* Lost World Museum Phoenix, New York
* Mt Blanco Fossil Museum Lubbock, Texas
* Museum of Creation and Earth History Santee, California by the Institute for Creation Research.
* Museum of Earth History Eureka Springs, Arkansas
* Noah’s Ark Museum Uzengeli Village, Turkey
* Wyatt Museum Wyatt Archeological Research Inc Tennessee
The list is taken from CreationWiki - I don't know if Kent Hovind's "museum" is on there or not, and obviously some of their information is out of date. Were I not banned, I'd change it, but ah well.
More at http://lippard.blogspot.com/2006/11/john-mackay-and-answers-in-genesis.html
Sound to me like this will be a case of survival of the fittest creationists.
If there was ever an illustration of a ‘tempest in a teacup,’ this is it! And a teacup that is just about ready to be rinsed out for the last time. :)
I didn’t realize there were so many people in the world that believe this 6,000 year old earth nonsense.
“God, please save the fools and idiots of this earth who look on your creation and can see nothing more than a flat earth. Help them wake up to the fact that the Genesis account of the creation of earth was merely an allegorical story meant for a primitive man who could not understand the mechanisms by which you brought life into being. Please God shut these people up before they do more damage to the faith by driving more people into the arms of atheists who may not believe in you, but at least have eyes open to see the wonder of the science you created. Please open their eyes to the fact that the search for truth and knowledge are not against the will of God. Amen”
“Sound to me like this will be a case of survival of the fittest creationists.”
LOL. Short......but oh so funny. Thanks.
I’ve met Ken Ham, only briefly; it is a shame, he did seem genuine.
I am not taking sides!
I see you’re relatively new to Free Republic. Welcome.
If this story depresses you, I’m afraid the latest polls will only depress you further; a majority of Americans believe in creation and/or doubt evolution, and 90% claim a belief in God.
I find your philosophies on religion (your ‘prayer’ here, and other things you’ve written) to be rather...unorthodox.
At least we have something more reliable to believe than evolutionary thought which cant make up it’s mind on just how old we are...
Not only do we believe that God could have created the world in 6 days, He can destroy it in a matter of minutes. Good thing He’s giving us time to search for the truth. Ask Him, He’ll show you more than you can imagine.
Oh, Gosh! Creative differences?
Not a good sign.