Inside the Creationist dispute
Inside the Creationist dispute
Column by Kevin Eigelbach - Cincinnati Post - 6/27/07
Last week, The Post reported on a lawsuit an Australian creationist group is pursuing against its American cousin, the Boone County-based Answers in Genesis.
The lawsuit details AIG's alleged attempts to steal magazine subscribers from Creation Ministries International.
According to CMI, though, it's also part of AIG's ongoing attempts to destroy it, an organization AIG worked with closely for two decades.
It's all detailed in a 40-page report by Clarrie Briese, a former chief state magistrate in Australia, and a member of CMI.
The report is a must read if you want a behind-the-scenes look at the foremost proponents of the idea that God created the universe from nothing in six days, 6,000 years ago.
Briese chaired a committee that CMI formed to investigate allegations that AIG had made. AIG didn't cooperate with the investigation.
After looking over about 700 pages of evidence, Briese found no wrongdoing by CMI, but lots on the part of AIG.
In his view, the dispute began in August 2004, when officers of both groups asked Answers to reorganize, in part to make the ministry less dependent on its founder, Ken Ham.
The reformers also wanted to address the problem of low staff morale at Answers.
According to Briese, in a letter to the Answers board, then-Answers COO Brandon Vallorani wrote, "Ken's track record with staff has been To Put It Mildly less than desirable. He is perceived to be harsh and unforgiving .... There is an unhealthy fear of Ken."
Until the reform attempt, the two ministries had excellent relations. They had common board members, they shared articles, they even shared the Answers in Genesis name and the same Web site.
But that all changed quickly.
AIG in America fired Vallorani, its second-in-command, and gave him a payout on condition of silence, according to Briese.
When Ham sees a threat to his dominant position in the worldwide creationism movement, he retaliates, Briese wrote, and that's what he proceeded to do to CMI.
Ham's a persuasive guy, as those who have talked with him can attest. Vallorani evidently learned that first-hand.
"I just got off the phone with Ken," the report quotes Vallorani as saying in an e-mail. "I have just been 'spun' to agree with him on every point. I watched it happen. I felt it happen. I can't believe it happened. Now I don't know up from down." In October 2005, Briese found, Ham persuaded the Australian group's board of directors to sign documents that gave virtual control of CMI to AIG.
Briese concluded that, had the board known what they were signing, they never would have done so, because the documents were too damaging to CMI. That board later resigned after CMI management and the creationism community in Australia protested.
Ever since then, CMI has tried to get Answers to nullify or renegotiate those documents, but Answers won't do it.
AIG also misled subscribers to the CMI magazines into thinking that they were not available anymore, while signing them up for subscriptions to AIG's new magazine, Answers. This caused massive financial damage to CMI, Briese found.
I remember when we interviewed Ham for a story about the new magazine.
Did he mention the CMI magazines that already existed, or that AIG was co-opting those subscribers? No, he didn't.
Briese found evidence of other, dirtier retaliation as well. I'll write more about that next week.
Staff reporter Kevin Eigelbach writes on religion for The Post. Reach him at email@example.com.