June 2007 edition, Volume 1, Number 1
Cover Story

Fellow Christians Aggrieved by Business Practices of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis

by CFR Staff
May 27, 2007


The Marketing of Bedrock

The Creation Museum: Faith and Science at the Crossroads

The Trouble with Fred and Wilma: Why the Creation Museum is Bad for Christians

Aljazeera Covers the Creation Museum Grand Opening

Dr. Carl Wieland, Managing Director of Australia based Creation Ministries International says "We have had a lot of angry former subscribers (still only a tiny fraction of the 35,000 or so that were misled) contact us saying that they are not only relieved to find we and our magazine still existed, but angry that they had been given the impression by clever wording that the magazine was no longer available in the United States, period.”

Creation Magazine

Mark Looy of Answers in Genesis extolled the integrity of Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham at the Creation Museum Grand Opening

At the grand opening ceremonies of the Creation Museum this Saturday in Petersburg, Kentucky, Answers in Genesis Chief Communications Officer Mark Looy waxed eloquent as to the personal character of Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham.

“Integrity.” Looy said. “Ken Ham is an example of Christian integrity.”

His former business partners and fellow Christian Creationists, Australian based Creation Ministries International, use different words to describe the business ethics of Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis non-profit corporation.

The dispute among these ideological allies centers around the tactics used by Answers in Genesis to terminate the American distribution relationship it had with Creation Ministries International to distribute that organization’s Creation Magazine. The magazine has been produced by the Australian group since the late 1970’s. In the early 1990’s, Ken Ham established a separate corporation in the United States to distribute Creation Magazine. When the Answers in Genesis non-profit ministry was established in 1993, Ham transferred the assets of this corporation into this new ministry.

By 2005, Answers in Genesis was distributing new editions of Creation Magazine every month to 35,000 American subscribers on behalf of the Australian group. Cleverly, Answers in Genesis maintained the subscriber list, refusing to share it with the Australians.

Dr. Carl Wieland, Managing Director of the Australian based Creation Ministries International, who has known Ken Ham for over two decades, was shocked at what transpired next.

“ The planning for their own magazine to replace ours in due course was underway already in 2005, well before they announced they were dropping ours. They sent out (without telling us) a survey to subscribers which said that they were contemplating a 'revamped Creation magazine'. The leading questions in the survey were clearly designed to elicit the results obtained, and clearly referred to a replacement magazine (e.g. asking subscribers, 'would you like to see more articles by the following authors', when the multiple choices included none of the regular Australian authors).”

Answers in Genesis had its own magazine, Answers, waiting in the wings to replace Creation magazine.

Wieland continues his story:

“In that same year 2005 AiG applied, without telling us, to register the name 'Creation' in the magazine section of the US trademark law. (The original name for their magazine was intended (and announced) to be 'Creation Answers'.) When the examiner knocked back their original application, to bolster the application by demonstrating their use of the mark in trade, they attached two copies of our magazine. They refused to drop the application when we suggested to them that it was not appropriate to register someone else's magazine name. They only dropped the application, knowing it was unwinnable, after we objected formally via trademark attorneys on the grounds that it was our mark, our magazine. (We turned down their suggestion that we should permit them to continue with the application and they would transfer it to us upon our payment to them of thousands of dollars for the costs they had incurred in the process of registration.)”

Ham disputes Wieland’s statement.

Ken Ham, at the Grand Opening of the Creation Museum

“They are not telling the truth,” he told Christian Faith and Reason in an exclusive interview. He went on to add that the Australian group failed to share the PDF files of the March 2006 issue with Answers in Genesis.

Wieland gives no credence to Ham’s description of events:

“It is true that we INITIALLY refused to show them the PDFs. In all the years of the distribution arrangement, this had never been part of the arrangement, and they never once asked to see the PDFs prior to printing; Ken Ham had, including for this edition, seen the text of EVERY article in advance. And we gave them a formal written undertaking that the magazine issue contained nothing negative about AiG or any of its staff. Nor did it.”

“ We were legally hamstrung by the 'agreement' our former directors signed and therefore needed to 'buy' a few days to get our formal letter out to prevent being further ensnared. However, at the time they announced on their website (without informing us) that they had dropped the magazine, we had already relented in writing, saying we would show them the pdfs, subject only to some further discussion, including asking them to undertake (just as we had undertaken re the magazine) not to attack us on their website. By that time the (identical) Australian edition had already been published and there was time for its contents to have leaked out to the US office, which then chose to drop it. It will be clear why, and it has nothing to do with our refusal (which as indicated had already been recanted, and the negotiations were proceeding).”

Wieland feared that Ham and Answers in Genesis would follow through with some bare knuckles marketing techniques. His fears turned out to be well founded.

“We were afraid that we would be cut off from our subscribers and that we would have no way of letting them know. We did have a free web booklet offer in that March issue (available to any subscribers anywhere in the world) which we felt would be one way of getting at least a small % of US email addresses to use to contact US subscribers in the event that they did cut us off from them, which we had all the indications about and which did happen.”

“We were stunned that they cut subscribers off of the March issue when theirs was only ready to go in June, so they missed out on a whole issue - but in hindsight, that was the only way for them to avoid US subscribers seeing the obvious reality about the rebranding. By doing things as they were done, the truth could be kept hidden from most of them.”

The unpleasant actions by Answers in Genesis left some former Creation Magazine subscribers in the United States surprised and confused. As Wieland tells it:

“ We would stress that we have no problem with the notion of fair competition, our deep distress is that they repeatedly refused to contact the former subscribers openly, as we requested, to tell them of their options. We have had a lot of angry former subscribers (still only a tiny fraction of the 35,000 or so that were misled) contact us saying that they are not only relieved to find we and our magazine still existed, but angry that they had been given the impression by clever wording that the magazine was no longer available in the US, period.”

Since the events unfolded, Wieland and the Australian group have been pressing Ham and Answers in Genesis to resolve the dispute in a manner consistent with Christian principles.

“We have had a formal enquiry into the matter by a committee of eminent Christians (including several with senior legal experience) in this country. The results may be made public in short order if there is not a settlement soon, which we hope there is at last, despite AiG's rejection of binding Christian arbitration.”

Bringing up the topic to Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham yields an abrupt and aggressive response. After the question was posed in the Christian Faith and Reason interview last Friday, Ham unceremoniously hung up the phone.

The matter still stuck in Ham’s craw the next day.

When Christian Faith and Reason Managing Editor Michael Patrick Leahy shook his hand and thanked him for the exclusive interview when the two met briefly at the Saturday Grand Opening, Ham’s response was curt.

“I don’t appreciate you bringing up the Creation Ministries International issue yesterday,” he blurted out, then walked away with no further comment.

Apparently, the only news that Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis want to be heard about their organization is news they originate and control.

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